Gateway Arch is her window on the world

News-DemocratDecember 8, 2013 

DeVona Hogan works 630 feet in the air, getting spectacular views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River along with her paycheck.

The 25-year-old Belleville resident is a Metro tour guide who takes visitors to the top of the Gateway Arch.

"I like looking out of the windows, especially in the summer when there are baseball games going on," DeVona said.

"You can't really see the scoreboard, but most of the time there's someone around who's keeping track, and they'll tell you. And when (the Cardinals) hit a home run, you can see all the fireworks."

On a clear day, according to Arch promotional materials, you can see 30 miles from the windows at the top.

DeVona has been working at the Arch about seven years. She also takes computer science classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Her shift starts with a four-minute ride in a five-person tram car to a narrow indoor observation deck lined with small windows.

"Put me on a ride at Six Flags and I'm terrified," DeVona said. "But I'm fine at the top of the Arch.

"I think I'm more comfortable inside, and our maintenance workers are awesome. I trust them 100 percent to come and get me if anything were to happen."

DeVona's main job is to answer questions and help get people organized for tram rides. But sometimes she has to comfort those who cry, sweat or get hysterical due to claustrophobia or fear of heights.

"You just have to take time to talk to them and try to calm them down and get them to see that it's not that bad," she said.

"Most of the time, they come around and enjoy themselves. But if they just can't deal with it or get it together, we try to send them down right away."

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