That’s the Gateway Geyser, an attraction I didn’t even know existed in the St. Louis area until 2017. It was the tallest water fountain in the United States, spewing a column of water over 600 feet high — that’s almost as tall as the Gateway Arch.

I took friends and family to see it several times, but there were never many people there, probably because there were virtually no signs guiding you to the park, nor telling you where in the park to find the geyser, which went off three times a day before being pared back several years ago to a single eruption at noon during the summer.

The show lasted about 10 minutes, beginning with four fountains around the man-made lake, each spraying water a couple hundred feet into the air. Then the big one, in the center of the lake, started. The Gateway Geyser was not a natural attraction like Old Faithful, but rather a mechanical one, with powerful engines in a nearby building pushing air through pipes underneath to force the water up and out.

I’m writing this in the past tense because the Metro East parks department has announced the geyser will be no more:

Nearly 30 years of wear and tear has certainly taken a toll on the geyser’s pond liner, pumps, generators, and infrastructure; really no different than if your daily driver was a 30-year-old vehicle. All the parts and pieces have just surpassed their useful life and it shows. Also, what once might have made sense to operate and maintain the tallest water fountain in the U.S., is now outweighed by fiscal due diligence, environmental impacts, and the prioritization of other important goals and objectives.

That’s a shame, because there are so many people in the St. Louis area who never heard about the Gateway Geyser. Even people who lived here their entire lives were shocked when I told them about it. Part of the reason may be that it was in East St. Louis, Illinois, a poor city that still suffers from a bad reputation, and getting to the geyser wasn’t easy — the roads to the park were in terrible disrepair.

But I always found it cool and appreciated another feature at the other end of the park. Near the banks of the Mississippi River, there’s a tower you can walk up four ramps to get to the top of — and when you get there, you have the best possible view of the Arch and the St. Louis skyline. You can’t see this from the Missouri side, because you’d have the city’s buildings blocking your view, but from the Illinois side, it’s a clear and oh-so-scenic shot…