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Sharpie -- Writer's Poke #415

I was nine years old when Times Beach, Missouri was evacuated. Times Beach had 2,000 people, which was just about the same number of people that lived in my town; something happened, and all of a sudden, the people no longer had a town to call home. The evacuation was permanent. 

This incident stuck with me for a couple of reasons. One, the town was a town just like mine. And two, Times Beach was the exit right before the exit to Six Flags St. Louis. I knew right where it was, and so I felt in some way connected.

I used to study road atlases the same way some kids studied baseball cards. When the next year’s road atlas came out, I flipped to Missouri. Times Beach was no longer listed. The Interstate exit had been removed; it was like the place had never existed. 

What was there? What had happened to the town? The people who lived in the town? I longed to go there, but I never had the opportunity. Every time we drove to Six Flags, though, I thought about Times Beach and wondered if it was fenced off and guarded. If someone did sneak in to visit, would they get sick and die? And could a similar accident happen to my town? What would I do if I could never return home again? 

Today, Times Beach has been gone for 30 years. It is now apparently safe to visit the location, and a State Park has taken the place of the town.  For some reason, I’d still like to visit, but I’m not sure why or what it is I think I’d discover if I did.

What is permanent?

“Nothing is permanent.” -- Buddha


  1. I guess I would agree with Buddha if he had restricted that to "Nothing in mortality is permanent". As it is, I think he claimed as fact something about which he had insufficient knowledge.

    Did you share with anyone your feelings about Times Beach at the time?


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