Irondale Boy Scout Reservation

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Submitted by Joy Scott

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Camp Irondale, originally known as Grenia Springs, was one of the first permanent Scout Camps in the U.S., and for many years an envied model. The land was donated in 1920 by Clarence Howard. Lumber donated by a small mill in Irondale and buildings erected by local farmers. With the cabins finished dedication was in 1924.

The boys came, some 1,200 of them each summer, by special Missouri Pacific trains, with a round-trip fare of $3.55. It was years before a road passable for automobiles was constructed.

The original swimming pool was built by damming freshwater springs at the foot of the hill. At Irondale, you were a "sinker" or a "swimmer". Sinkers were condemned to wear a small lead sinker on a yellow ribbon around their necks until they "swam it off".

The Roving Camps were established in 1927, with their opening week at Irondale.

As early as 1929 Irondale already boasted 151 permanent structures with 1,039 Scouts in attendance.

Marlin Perkins, then Reptile Curator of the St. Louis Zoo, with Scouts at the "Snake Pit" Irondale Nature Museum, 1938.

The Howard property was deeded to the Scouts in 1934 and became the quarters for Scoutmasters and leaders "Howard Lodge".

The mess hall "Kiwanis Hall" was donated by the Kiwanis in 1922 and renovated in 1934.

In 1938 the American Legion donated a new "Indian Village" of six big 20-foot teepees with wooden floors.

On July 4th 1946,the DeStaebler Memorial and its Inspiration Hall were dedicated at Irondale, which served the religious needs of all Scouts, regardless of creed.

The new swimming pool which opened in 1946, was dedicated on June 28, 1947, built largely with donated materials and equipment. It was one of the nation's largest outdoor refiltering pools.

The last Council Fire burned at Irondale at the close of the camping season in August, 1965, and its ashes were added to the opening Councils Fire at the S&F Scout Ranch the following year. The many dedication plaques from Irondale are now on display on the Memorial Board in the Rand Building at the Ranch. Irondale had served Scouting well for 47 years.


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