Visitors to Hermann can’t help but feel a hearty welcome as they enter the riverside village. With careful attention to detail, beacons of the town’s rich heritage act as gracious greeters—kindly inviting you to explore the town’s history and enjoy the entertainment that abounds here. Stay awhile in Hermann to uncover the past’s stories shared in the celebrated area memorials.
One such prized landmark is a combination of memorials in a beautiful park setting. The River Memorial and the Gerald Engemann Memorial Garden are both public spaces that honor the community. When you next travel on the Christopher Bond Bridge into the town of Hermann, look to the foot of the bridge and notice treasured authentic steamboat pieces amongst the purposeful landscape design—defining so much about the town of Hermann.
The River Memorial, or Steamboat Memorial as it is commonly referred to, is an interactive homage to the history of life on the river. It sheds light on the river’s influence on the industrialization of this area in Missouri. The park, open daily, greets visitors arriving on Highway 19 or 100 East. With its informational displays and astounding waterfront views, the River Memorial extends a perfect opportunity to stop in with a snack and enjoy seeing eagles fly over the water. The antique paddle wheel is an ideal Hermann spot for pictures, too!
The park itself is located on the grounds of a 1960’s vacated motel that was in a sore state of disrepair before overhauling the land to make way for the new site. Parts of the original River Memorial (initially it was displayed across the street) necessitated moving with the construction of the Bond Bridge. The Memorial was disassembled with key parts salvaged—namely the paddle wheel, the mock whistle, and the stacks. This park required substantial landscape engineering and tied the whole historic area together, laying the way for continued revitalization and preservation in Hermann.
The Memorial was always intended to acknowledge the river men from this region. A plaque from the original 1976 Memorial states, “This replica of a pilothouse is erected in memory of the great steamboat crews of the past, many of whom called the Port of Hermann their home. It is only now that we may truly measure their contributions to the progression of navigation and the development of our nation.” This plaque has been reinstalled on the new Memorial site on the northeast corner.
Gerald Engemann Memorial
During construction of the new River Memorial grounds, a critical Hermann community member, Gerald Engemann, lost his life in an unfortunate accident. Celebrating a fallen community figure requires the need to move beyond sorrow and remember that person for all of the good they created. The friendships and accomplishments of a man devoted to his family, church and community often take more than a headstone to be recounted adequately. Gerald’s memory lives on in an integral part of the full picture of this place. He has become memorialized, not merely of metal or stone but as part of the space itself. The Gerald Engemann Memorial Garden captures this sentiment well.
More Than A Park
As the River Memorial recognizes steamboat history and the Gerald Engemann Garden represents an ambassador to the town of Hermann, you’ll find this visit on your trip through Hermann to be particularly educational and moving. With access to a path that crosses the Bond Bridge and benches allowing for catching a gorgeous sunrise view (just as the old world sailors did)—the park is a product of sincere community effort, with committed craftsmanship and labor.
Parking to view the River Memorial and the Gerald Engemann Memorial Garden is convenient and additionally provides parking access for the Deutschheim State Historic Site. Its multi-use purpose becomes evident during the holiday season as the lighted Christmas tree display is located here for all to enjoy. And remember, this park is open every day—make it a priority to stop in and pay your respects to the history and founders of present-day Hermann.
The River Memorial and Gerald Engemann Memorial Garden are meaningful enhancements to the Hermann tourism offerings. To find out more about Hermann-area Memorials, Museums and Historical Sites, or lodging for an extended stay, browse our website at VisitHermann.com.