Hiding in Plain Sight: MCT Trail Critters

A set of adorable creatures have taken up residence along the Madison County Transit Trails system! The ‘Trail Critters’ collection features eight colorful animal sculptures representing the communities they inhabit, from a canary in a coal mine to MCT Trail’s beloved mascot, Newt the Cat. Sculpted by Texan artist Jeffie Brewer, the MCT Trail Critters range in height from 9 to 12 feet and are crafted from 10-gauge steel. These adorable critters add a whimsical touch to the county-wide trail system and make an excellent outdoor scavenger hunt!

Find the MCT Critters with the help of this map.

Cole the Canary: Glen Carbon

It’s hard to miss the 12-foot tall, hot pink canary chirping off of MCT Ronald J. Foster Heritage Trail near Glen Carbon Junction.

An ode to the ‘canary in the coal mine’, Cole represents the community’s historic mining heritage.

Jarvis the Bear: Troy

A 10-foot tall, teal bear, Jarvis guards MCT’s Goshen Trail near the IL-162 highway and is named after the township in which he resides.

Marina the Heron: East Alton

Poised on two long legs, Marina the heron watches over Riverbend Junction on the MCT Confluence Trail just south of Alton and the National Great Rivers Museum.

Marina’s 12-foot tall stature and bright yellow body make her easy to spot from afar by bikes, cars, and even boats along the river!

Mary the Cardinal on the MCT Trails

Mary the Cardinal: Maryville

Nested lakeside near Drost Park along the MCT Schoolhouse Trail in Maryville, Mary the cardinal is bright red and stands nine-feet high. Did you know the northern cardinal is Illinois’ state bird?

Newt the Cat: Edwardsville

Beloved by all, Newt the cat is based off of Newt, a real kitty who greeted trail visitors and never knew a stranger.

Newt passed away in early 2024 but his memory lives on in the nine-foot tall bright orange cat sculpture located where MCT Nature, MCT Nickel Plate, and MCT Goshen Trails intersect.

Radish the Horse: Collinsville

Grazing off the MCT Schoolhouse Trail along Horseshoe Lake Road in Collinsville is Radish, a 10-foot tall purple equine.

Named for Collinsville’s world-renowned horseradish crop, Radish’s color also reflects the school and city hues.

Sandy the Lizard: Pontoon Beach

Bright and cheerful, Sandy the lizard sunbathes just off MCT Nature Trail near the Sand Road and Chain of Rocks Road intersection.

The longest sculpture horizontally, Sandy is halfway between Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville campus and the community of Pontoon Beach.

Steele the Fox in Granite City

Steele the Fox: Granite City

A cheerful, blue fox, Steele isn’t so sly at 10-feet tall!

He stands just off MCT Nature Trail in Granite City near Victory Drive and Terminal Avenue. His name is a nod to Granite’s renowned steel industry and ‘Steel Town’ heritage.

Go on the Hunt

Scavenger Hunt Tip: MCT Trails has a Trail Critters Adventure Book- request yours by private messaging the MCT Trails Facebook page with your address and they will mail you a guide! The guide goes along with the MCT Trails GooseChase Trail Critter Challenge! Visit MCT Trail’s website for a full map of the trails, Trail Critter locations, and more information or call or email at 618-797-4600 or email: trails@mct.org

About the Author

Kayla Howland

Kayla Howland is a local writer and artist who lives in Alton, IL with her Cairn Terrier, Ripley. She enjoys fiction and non-fiction writing, graphic design, painting, drawing and photography. Kayla is a graduate of Southwestern High School and Lewis & Clark Community College. She has worked doing freelance graphic design, photography and commissioned paintings since 2012.