Superior Pagoda in East Valley Park

In 1901, developments were occuring in the east portion of the river valley, which would later become a part of the Fishing River Parkway system and today is known as East Valley Park and Isley Woods. A pagoda was built by the J.C. Isley family for the Superior Spring. At this time the land was a beautiful park by the name of Reed Park. The original structure was completely made of wooden planks. The walkway and deck were surrounded by a wood railing and bench where those visiting the spring could be seated. The roof was supported by 10 carved beams and had a clapboard patterened hip roof with an imbricated wood shingle section midway from the bottom. The corners were carved brackets where the supports joined the roof. The Isley family had purchased 30-acres of the land in 1880 for $150.

In 1902, Dr. William A. Bell purchased land holdings in Excelsior Springs including the park property. In 1907, his son, Maj. William A.J. Bell, began to correspond with George E. Kessler, landscape architect for the land development, who concentrated on mapping out development of a 9-hole golf course on the east hill, with additional park development of what is today Fishing River Linear Park, an area of land west of Regent Spring on Elms property and the Elms and Regent Boulevards entrance to the new hotel.

In 1912, the wooden framed pagoda was replaced by a stone pagoda.

At the east end of the park system, a private hospital was being built upon land purchased in 1922 that connected with the Superior Pagoda. It was an investment of $100,000 to be opened to the public. At this time the land was known as Superior Park, a 5-acre tract with grounds covered with huge shade trees and a fine carpet of blue grass. The capital was provided by Dr. J.E. Baird, Dr. J.E. Musgrave, Dr. R.W. Prather and Dr. C.H. Suddarth. Before this time, Superior Park was used as an athletic field.

In 1925, a pergola was built in East Park.

In the early 1950s, the Superior pagoda was altered. It was situated on top of a two story stone and concrete well enclosure, reached by walking across a reinforced concrete walkway. The natural stone texture and concrete well enclosure is circular and has a cone-shaped wood shingle roof supported by four octagon shaped piers. The pump is located in the center of the floor and the entrance is flanked by two oden gates. A small picnic area with a picnic table was located in the hospital's grassy area in front of the pagoda.

In 1980, funding of $75,000 in Urban Development Action Grants were set aside for the construction of a pavilion in East Valley Park. At the same time, work was done on a walkway and hiking trail, sprucing up of the old pavilions, and a new comfort station for the Jim Piburn ballfield were included.

On May 10, 1982, the Superior Well and Pagoda was placed on the local landmarks register, it being the last remaining spring pagoda in town.

In 1993, what locals dubbed "the 500 year flood" hit Excelsior Springs and surrounding areas with heavy rainfall, pushing the Fishing River above flood levels. On August 12, the city received eight to 10 inches of rain in less than two hours, resulting in a flash flood. The Fishing River Linear Park was devastated with trees being swept down and the collapse of the Golf Link Bridge in East Valley Park and the pedestrian bridge behind the Hall of Waters. Residents near the Superior pagoda stated water level reached half way up the pagoda on the north hillside. There was severe eroding of the dike behind the Hall of Waters. Debris from the collapsed Golf Hill Bridge collected in the Fishing River bed and in the park north of the river, almost to the walking trail.


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