Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city...
Sorry, I never can resist a Labyrinth reference when our destination is difficult to find. Particularly when it involves crossing the grate bridge in Forest Park, which Phoenix would tell you is extremely treacherous.
The Art Museum has a missile defense system, apparently.
So today we are in search of Indian Tree. What you are going to want to do is find this gravel path that is between the back of the Art Museum and the North/Living World entrance to the St Louis Zoo. Instinct will lead you to the bike path that skirts the edge of the Kennedy Forest, but that's the wrong path. The right one looks like this:
For my mom's sake, I won't say what we have nickname this particular path. I'll just say that if you're in the Kennedy Forest, it's probably wise to be with another person or large dog, and don't dawdle.
I have a long stride that kills my friends, so the best I can tell you is that you're going to want to go about 350 tall person paces down the path until you come to a placard on the left and a meditation bench on the right.
If that placard is tl;dr, this is an Osage Orange sapling planted inside an old oak tree, purposely bent to point east, to symbolize a new beginning for the Osage Nation and harmony with other cultures.
Onward! As with the Indian Tree, it's difficult to explain the location of the Friedrich Jahn monument, but if you spend a lot of time in Forest Park you have probably seen it. This will probably only make sense to a St Louis native. Basically, if you were coming in the Hampton entrance to the park and were heading toward the Art Museum, you would find this monument if you went straight ahead on the gravel path (do not attempt this in an automobile) rather than turning left towards the Living World Zoo entrance/Art Museum. Or you could drop of the back of the Art Museum side parking lot and run down the hill.
If you have seen this monument before, you have probably wondered about the subject. When I first came up with the idea of this blog last year, this was going to be one of the first entries. Credit goes to Danger for discovering the answer to the question, "Who was Friedrich Ludwig Jahn and why is he known as the Father of Systematic Physical Culture? For that matter, what is Systematic Physical Culture?"
The answer? Gymnastics! According to his Wikipedia article, Jahn thought Prussia needed a morale boost after their defeat by Napoleon, so he opened these gymnasiums and "young gymnasts were taught to regard themselves as members of a kind of guild for the emancipation of their fatherland." Ooooookay.
So why does Friedrich Jahn have a monument in Forest Park, one that has even been rededicated twice? According to the St Louis City Parks Department, "The monument is placed on the site occupied by the German pavilion during the 1904 World's Fair. Jahn was the father of systematic physical culture and founder of the Turnvereins [German for "gymnastics association," according to wiki]...The monument was donated by the North American Turnverein, St. Louis Chapter and was unveiled in October of 1913."
The St Louis Turnvereins are no longer active. A Google search turned up an interesting photo set of the Nord St Louis Turnverein building after a catastrophic fire in 2006.