Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 15

MOUNTAIN BIKERS
Ironton turns
Shepherd Mountain
into a gravity-fueled
mountain bike park
by Jim McCarty | jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop

D

riving through the Arcadia Valley on Highway 21, it's
hard to miss the looming presence of Shepherd Mountain. It dominates the skyline 600 feet above Ironton
and is a link to the days when the town's economy depended on mining. Now the town of 1,528 hopes the mountain
represents the future prosperity of the entire region.
On April 3, Ironton's Shepherd Mountain Bike Park
officially opens to the public. The ribbon cutting is expected to
unleash a welcome influx of hardcore mountain bikers craving
downhill excitement - and a corresponding influx into the
economy of an area that has never fully recovered from the
loss of iron and lead mining jobs.
All eyes in Missouri's growing mountain bike community
have been focused on the project since it was first announced
in 2019. Missouri is home to many miles of all-terrain trails
suitable for mountain biking. But the state lacked purposebuilt, gravity-powered downhill trails.
That began to change during a chance encounter at a
chamber of commerce meeting held at Ironton's Fort Davidson
Cafe. Klinton Silvey, a Potosi native who competes in enduro
mountain bike racing when he's not in his role as financial
advisor for a local bank, was at the meeting. " I just mentioned
how I thought we have the biggest hills in the state right
here, " Klinton recalls. " It would be amazing if we could have
mountain bike trails down them. They said, 'Do you know a
lot about that kind of stuff?' I lied and said, 'Yes. It's all about
vertical feet and right here you've got the best in the state.' "
That encounter quickly led to a meeting with Ironton Mayor
Bob Lourwood. This time Klinton brought reinforcements
representing the Gateway Off Road Cyclists, or GORC, a trailbuilding group based in St. Louis.
" They were immediately receptive, " Klinton says. " They've
been looking for a way to use Shepherd Mountain to bring
tourism into the area. They had mountain biking on their
radar but no one around here rides or understood what they
had or the kind of trails that could be built to become a tourist
destination. "
Ironton purchased Shepherd Mountain in the 1980s to
APRIL 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

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Rural Missouri - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 5
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Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover4
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