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The Parkmoor, Phil the Gorilla, the floating McDonald's and other 'lost treasures' of St. Louis

Do you pine for the swinging orange chairs and plush booths of The Parkmoor? Do you miss the thrill of the Coral Court Motel on Watson? Do you wish you could visit the orange soda-guzzling Phil the Gorilla, the king of the St. Louis Zoo?

You’re not alone in that pang you feel when you think back on the bygone St. Louis institutions of yesteryear. Cameron Collins, the author of the popular local Distilled History blog, has felt the nostalgia too.

It inspired him to research and write a book, replete with photographs and stories, about the “Lost Treasures of St. Louis.”

Local author Cameron Collins' new book is "Lost Treasures of St. Louis."
Credit Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio
Local author Cameron Collins' new book is "Lost Treasures of St. Louis."

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Collins joined host Don Marsh to discuss some of the 410 treasures in the book and the unique things he learned about them. 

“It was a daunting task. It took two years to compile and put together,” Collins said.

The coffee table book is divided into five broad categories: food and drink, entertainment, retail, media and community.

“There was a lot of pining for the past,” Collins said. “Even places like the floating McDonald’s on the riverfront. People would mention ‘you could smell the river while you were eating your Big Mac.’”

Speaking of the river, the Admiral – the legendary excursion steamboat that later housed a casino – is ranked highly in St. Louisans’ memories.  

“I loved listening to stories about people who dressed up to go to the Admiral for a night of dancing,” Collins said.

Collins occasionally delivers books directly to customers, remarking that he’s often invited into homes and enjoys hearing stories as people walk down memory lane.


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.