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Spring in the 573 is such a beautiful time of year. The warm sun, the leaves and flowers speckle the outside world, and breezes are flowing. It’s perfect weather to climb Hughes Mountain with some new 573 friends and go kite flying—with an old, never used 1963 Hi-Flier kite. The wind always blows on top of Hughes Mountain.

Two young women stand on a mountain watching the sunset view
Hughes Mountain has some of the most unique geological features.

An old paper Hi-Flier kite lies on the granite rock of Hughes Mountain
A vintage 1963 Hi-Flier paper kite.

We broke the seal and put the kite together. As the pieces were put into place and the strings were cut and tied, I couldn’t help but feel like a kid again. Just one more thing—add the homemade tail. In the old days you had to make a knotted tail made from strips of cloth. This helped to steady the flight. Just thinking about watching the wind sweep the beautiful paper diamond into the sky with the bow ridden tail waving in the breeze gave us the energy to climb to the top of the mountain.

A fragrant breeze moved up the mountain carrying the floral fragrance from the blooming dogwoods and redbud trees... it was time to put the kite to flight.

Two young women smile big as they try to fly their vintage kite at the top of Hughes Mountain
Cousins Olivia and Emma take their first stab at kite flying.
Two young women watch their kite soar in the air at the top of Hughes Mountain

Two young ladies watch a vintage kite in the air

Hi-Flier Kite Manufacturing in Decatur, Illinois, was once the largest paper kite manufacturer in the world. In 1921 Harvey A. Sellers (1889-1976) started Hi-Flier Manufacturing Company from his Decatur home. The company grew through the years, and by the 1950s, millions of kids around the world were flying Hi-Fliers from Decatur, Illinois. The last Hi-Flier kite to fly out of the Decatur plant before the company closed was in 1981.

Let's Meet Our Happy Fliers

My name is Olivia. I am 16 years old and I’m a junior at North County high school. I’ve been a cheerleader at North County since seventh grade.

a young lady sits on the rocky edge of a mountain holding up a vintage paper Hi-Flier kite
My name is Olivia.

I’ve been a competitive dancer for about 10 years now and I’ve done pageant since I was nine months old. I started doing pageants very early on, and when I was around nine or 10 I kind of started branching out into different systems.

A beauty queen in gown, sash, and crown sits on a Rocky Mountain side
Miss Spirit of St. Louis—Olivia

Last year I held an international title with a pageant system called International Girl. Then while I held that title I visited a local for the Miss America organization this year to St. Louis local. I really liked it after I visited. It’s a very uplifting and positive atmosphere. So whenever I could compete again I competed for a Spirit of St. Louis title and I won, which is really exciting because a lot of girls go to mini locals. Winning my first Miss America local was a surprise experience I wasn’t fully ready for, but I’m really excited I got to have it.

My next dream is to be Miss Missouri Teen with the Miss America organization and really get more involved. Since this is my first year, I am a rookie, and I only have one year left in the teen division. I really want to make an impact on not only my own community, but also the Miss Missouri organization as a whole.

A young woman sits in thought with her friend behind her holding a vintage kite on the top of a beautiful mountain

I actually do not know what I want to do after high school. I know there’s a lot of pressure around high schoolers to know what they wanna do early on—not me. I think I’m going to take a year break away from school and just kind of enjoy the outside world and really get the feel of what I like and what I want to be before I hit adulthood.


My name is Emma. I’m 16 and a sophomore at North County. I’ve been on the high school cheer team for two years. We just won regionals five times in a row and state twice. We also won Game Day State Nationals. I dance with Times Four.

A pretty young woman sits on a mountain top holding a vintage kite
My name is Emma.

I think most of all I just want to be happy and have an impact on the people around me. Family means the world to me. I don’t have anything set in stone for my future yet, but family for sure is important. I’d like to maybe get into some fashion and art, creating and expressing myself through those mediums. I think creating my own fashion line or something to do with that would be very fun. I would love to try interior decorating and design as well. I think architecture is very inspiring and you can do a lot of things with it and see a lot of places.

Two young women relax on the rocky top of a mountain and tug on the string of a kite that's soaring in the wind

A young woman collects her kite and walks back to her friend across the rocky top of Mt. Hughes

Hughes Mountain has some of the most unique geological features in the state. The 1.5 billion year old Precambrian rock outcrops are among the most ancient exposed rocks in the United States. The rocks were once liquefied by ancient volcanoes associated with the St. Francois Mountains. Some of the molten rock cooled to create multi-sided columns. A rhyolite formation, known locally as the Devil's Honeycomb, is one of Missouri's geologic wonders and is the highest point on Hughes Mountain. Sunsets are spectacular from the top as well, with its panoramic western view of the Washington County countryside.

As a result of this uneven heating, earth surfaces vary a lot in temperature. Air on surfaces with higher temperatures will rise because it is lighter (less dense). As the air rises, it creates low pressure. Air on surfaces with cooler temperatures sinks. The change in pressures up and down is what causes the wind to move horizontally. Tell me that doesn't blow you away!

What are you waiting for? Grab a friend, grab a kite, and GET OUT THERE!

words aj. koehler

pics t. smugala

To get to the Hughes Mountain Conservation Area:

From Potosi, take Highway 21 south for 11 miles, then Route M east for 5 miles to the parking lot on the south side of the road 200 yards east of Cedar Creek Road (CR 541).

Be sure to visit all of our awesome sponsors who make these stories possible!

A beautifully remodeled kitchen with sunlight streaming in displays a mixed style of classic and contemporary
Hoods Discount Home Center in Farmington, Missouri

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