Mini-Flood 12: Grant’s Farm

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photograph by Jeni Kulka

A Busch family legacy, Grant’s Farm is a 281-acre animal preserve and attraction that has been enjoyed by St. Louis residents for more than fifty years. AB-InBev currently owns the Park, and thankfully, continues to operate it as most of us fondly remember. Grant’s Farm has been depicted in many famous advertising images for Anheuser-Busch, and is ranked seventh as a top family attraction in the United States by Zagat Survey. The Park features several distinctive structures including the Busch family mansion, Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin, and a wonderful beergarden with adjoining stables.

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photograph by Jeni Kulka

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photograph by Patrick Gioia

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Ann Aurbach

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photograph by Jacob Lucas

In the late 1840’s, long before he would become the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant was bestowed 80-acres from which to carve out an idyllic farm life. A wedding gift from his father-in-law, Frederick Dent, this original Grant Farm existed 9 miles southwest of downtown St. Louis, in a rural area punctuated by small settlements upon large land claims. The nearby Gravois Road was established as a trail to connect an earlier pioneer’s property in Jefferson County to St. Louis, and became an important trade route, bustling with activity by the time Grant left to fight in the Civil War. The General’s military career, and later his political ambitions, ensured that Grant and his family would never fully return to farm life. The Grant’s abandoned cabin, nicknamed “Hardscrabble”, traveled a bit around the region (including to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904) before being purchased by the Busch family and relocated about one mile away from its original home. It is now a National Historic Landmark, and remains as the only home in existence hand-built by a U.S. President.

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photograph by Susan Kulka

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Patrick Gioia

In the Civil War era, a beer dynasty was formed in St. Louis when the Anheuser and Busch families merged through marriage. The younger Adolphus Busch took over the elder Eberhard Anheuser’s business upon the death of the later, and sought to establish a beer with universal appeal. By 1901, the Anheuser-Busch company reported sales of over 1 million barrels of beer, an astounding achievement that catapulted the ambitious beer baron to national attention. Adolphus’ successor, August A. Busch, Sr., established the residence at Grant’s Farm. Located high upon a hill, the Busch Mansion gave a nod to the French Renaissance in terms of its design. This colossal, 34-room building was without a doubt the most opulent private residence in St. Louis at the time, and it likely still ranks high up on any such list. August A. Busch, Jr., nicknamed “Gussie”, took over the Brewery from his father, and piloted it well enough to eventually receive the distinction of “world’s largest”. Also during his reign, Gussie purchased the St. Louis Cardinals and Sportsmans Park (later renamed as Busch Stadium), and established Grant’s Farm as an animal park, open to the public even though it was still his private residence. Unsurprisingly, Gussie, as colorful a character as his public accomplishments suggest, was/is a much-beloved St. Louisan.

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photograph by Patrick Gioia

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photograph by Jacob Lucas

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photograph by Josie Kulka

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photograph by Captured N Time

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Susan Kulka

Today, Grant’s Farm is a major local attraction drawing thousands of visitors every year. The Farm is comprised of four distinct draws: the Clydesdales Stables, a Deer Park with Tram, the Animal Attractions, and the Bauernhof. Nearby the parking lot, the Clydesdales Stables offers visitors the opportunity to get up close to the beautiful animals seen in television commercials and print advertising for AB-InBev. Anheuser-Busch reports their clydesdales herd to be among of the world’s largest, with up to 25 of the horses living on site at Grant’s Farm. Upon entering the Park, visitors board a tram which transports them deep into the popular Deer Park, where animals from six continents roam about freely, including Bison, Antelope and the deer herd that originally helped populate Lone Elk Park. Upon the tram, visitors pass by the original Ulysses S. Grant cabin and a wrought iron gate depicted in many memorable advertising campaigns. One also gets a distant glimpse of the majestic Busch family mansion. Exiting the tram, Grant’s Farm’s patrons are transported into a colorful neighborhood of animal attractions, some of which are interactive. Exhibits range from a goat-feeding pen and a lemur display to the elephant amphitheater, where educational performances by the Farm’s pair of pachyderms take place in intervals. Lastly, visitors wind up at the Bauernhoff, German for “farmstead”. This charming Bavarian style courtyard with adjoining stables is the perfect place to relax with a delicious pretzel and a couple cups of the complimentary, AB-InBev beers on draft. Once rejuvenated, the stables and carriage house contain several horses, mules and ponies, as well as, a veritable museum of horse-drawn carriages (the Busch family’s private collection). On our visit, some of the horse stalls and much of the grounds were decorated for Halloween, an added bonus!

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Patrick Gioia

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photograph by Mandi Gray

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photograph by Steph James

Like most family attractions in St. Louis, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Zoo and Missouri History Museum, Grant’s Farm is almost entirely free (parking is $12, but seriously, who can complain after the two free beers and all of the fun?).

Some pics of some Photo Flood Saint Louis members at Grant’s Farm:

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(left to right: Steph James, Patrick Gioia, Josie Kulka, Jeni Kulka, Jacob Lucas, Mandi Gray w/Harper Gray, Jason Gray, Karen Potter, Ann Aurbach, Susan Kulka)

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photograph by Captured N Time (left to right: Susan Kulka, Jeni Kulka, Patrick Gioia, Jason Gray, Ann Aurbach, Mandi Gray, Steph James, Karen Potter)

Map:
MiniFlood12

4 Comments
  1. Captured N Time 6 years ago

    Had an awesome time at Grants Farm. Visiting their brought back so many childhood memories. I think that being a member of Photo Flood St. Louis has enhanced my knowledge of the town that I live in. A great group of people, photographers and friends!!

    • Jason Gray 6 years ago

      Likewise, Derrick! Thank you for the kind words. We have an amazing group of photographers, and as a result, I see many great new friendships as having formed and existing ones as having strengthened. I am truly fortunate and appreciative to be able to share all of this with all of you. Photo Flood STL’s main goal was community, and I think we’ve already succeeded (even as we continue to grow)! Hope to see you again soon!

  2. Johnny D 6 years ago

    There are pictures and there are photographs. It’s easy to see which is which in my eye. Someone with a camera shoots hundreds of pictures with the hope of having one photograph. A photographer stalks the subject with their eyes and mind until they spot the right moment at the right time with the right composition – then and only then do they capture it. Oh, and yes, sometimes they miss, just like the hunter does.

    • Jason Gray 6 years ago

      Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for reading! I hope, by your comment, that you feel that we have accomplished in making photographs. If you are local, you should come out with us some time! Please contact me at photofloodstl@yahoo.com for details.

      Best,
      Jason

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