Get a bang out of visiting this Mississippi River Hills area south of Hannibal in Pike County
The DuPont Reservation Conservation Area was the site of an explosives factory from 1892 through 1932. The E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company produced dynamite and nitroglycerin for lead, zinc and coal mines in the tri-state area and oil fields in Oklahoma. To reduce the chance of a chain explosion, should one of the buildings blow up, the company built separate facilities in different valleys. To our knowledge, none of the buildings ever blew up, but a number of old foundations remain scattered throughout the area to remind visitors of its industrial history.
In 1938, the owners donated 1,122.8 acres to the Conservation Commission. Since then, land purchases increased the area’s size to its present 1,320 acres. Composed of upland and bottomland timber, old fields and grassland as well as plantations of walnut, cottonwood, tulip poplar and bald cypress trees, the area borders the Mississippi River.
A concrete boat ramp gives visitors access to the river, and it’s a good place to enjoy the peace of the river and do a little fishing. Anglers will find good populations of catfish, crappie and big river fish. Next to the boat ramp is a primitive campground, also with great views of the river. The campground has camping pads, fire rings and a disabled-accessible privy. Backpackers can float or walk in anytime except during firearms deer and turkey seasons. Hunters will appreciate good populations of deer, squirrel and turkey.
Within the reservation lies DuPont Forest Natural Area. This 80-acre tract is a mixed upland hardwood forest and small limestone glade lying within the Lincoln Hills Section of the Glaciated Plains Natural Division. Basswood, northern red oak, white oak, chinquapin oak and sugar maple are common overstory trees. This natural area doesn’t have a designated hiking trail, but experienced hikers will find a beautiful, challenging hike through the forest. The rugged terrain offers breathtaking views of the river and supports a wide variety of songbirds and wildlife.
DuPont Reservation CA and DuPont Forest NA are beautiful anytime of year, but especially in the spring when the redbuds and dogwoods bloom. Plan to visit them again in the fall when the sugar maples glow yellow and orange among the oaks’ ruddy hues—evoking a different burst of color from a different time.
—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by David Stonner
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler