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Archive for missouri

The Legendary Pony Express

By Linda Tancs

Johnny Fry was the first rider for the Pony Express, the nation’s mail service connecting the eastern terminus of St. Joseph, Missouri, with Sacramento, California, in the west. Fry began the storied route on April 3, 1860, from historic Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph. Over 400 horses were purchased for the endeavor covering 2,000 miles, the riders enduring uncertain weather and rugged terrain to meet their appointed rounds until the service’s demise in October 1861. Their stories are told at the Pony Express National Museum on Penn Street.

Missouri’s Picturesque River Town

By Linda Tancs

Approximately 85 miles north of St. Louis is the quaint river town of Louisiana, Missouri. Located on the banks of the Mississippi and smack-dab in the middle of a national scenic byway, it boasts not only great river views but also soaring rock cliffs, rolling hills, architectural charm and a vibrant arts community. In fact, it’s particularly prized for its antebellum homes and what the Department of Natural Resources calls “the most intact Victorian streetscape in the state of Missouri.” The first residence was built in 1817, and many of the town’s 4,000 or so inhabitants are descendants of the early settlers. Louisiana is also one of three communities forming the 50 Miles of Art corridor. Together with Clarksville and Hannibal, the community is home to artisans who create one-of-a-kind masterpieces and host twice-yearly gallery and studio tours.

Great American Main Street

By Linda Tancs

What do New Jersey, Wyoming and Missouri have in common? For the current year, at least, the answer is that each state boasts a winning town in the 2015 Great American Main Street Award® contest. Each year the National Main Street Center (a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) bestows honors on those communities it deems to be a shining example of commercial district revitalization. This year’s honorees are Cape Girardeau in Missouri, Montclair Center Business Improvement District in New Jersey and Rawlins, Wyoming. Thanks to the art of reinvention, you won’t find them rolling up the sidewalks at night.

Thirty Miles in Every Direction

By Linda Tancs

In St. Louis, Missouri, the Gateway Arch is more than just a great view (30 miles in every direction, in fact): it’s a gateway to the past.  Symbolizing the nation’s westward expansion, the steel-clad monument is home to the Museum of Westward Expansion, a Lewis and Clark inspired tribute to the Old West and the explorers who helped forge a nation.  Animatronic figures bring the past to life, along with interactive exhibits including a tipi and covered wagon.

History in the Upper Mississippi

By Linda Tancs

The Upper Mississippi River runs from the headwaters of Lake Itasca in Minnesota to Cairo, Illinois, a distance of about 1,250 miles.  Along that mighty trek, you’ll find Hannibal, Missouri, Samuel Clemens’ inspiration for St. Petersburg, the fictional hometown of his most famous character, Tom Sawyer.  Better known by his pen name Mark Twain, Clemens’ boyhood home in Hannibal was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1962.  Part of a city-owned array of museum properties (including Judge Clemens’ Justice of the Peace Office, Grant’s Drug Store/Pilaster House, and Tom and Huck Statue), the boyhood home on North Main Street is one of the oldest historic preservation projects in the country.

The World Series of Barbecue

By Linda Tancs

All hail the king of barbecue:  Kansas City, Missouri’s American Royal is the largest barbecue contest in the world.  Beginning tomorrow through 2 October, this four-day annual food festival in Kansas City’s historic Stockyards District is part of the competitive circuit where nearly 500 teams compete in four meat categories.  Of course, what’s a barbecue without the sauce; the competition includes a Sauce Contest for the moniker Sauce Best Sauce on the Planet.  Open to products available commercially, this year the sauces will be judged plain and on unseasoned pulled pork.  The American Royal, a nonprofit organization now in its 112th
year, raises funds for youth and education.  Proceeds from this year’s beverage sales will benefit the American Royal Education and Scholarship Fund.

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Life and Liberty in Kansas City

By Linda Tancs

Designated by Congress as the United States’ official World War I Museum, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri opened to the public in 2006. The Museum presents a comprehensive interpretation of World War I (1914-1919).  In poignant fashion, visitors cross a Western Front poppy field to enter the Museum. Each of the 9,000 poppies represents a thousand combatant deaths, or 9 million souls. In addition to gun and tank displays, the war is made palpable through the use of trenches with actual objects and relevant ambient sounds as well as a walk-through crater illustrating the devastating effects of a 17-inch howitzer shell on a French farmhouse. Combine these features with animated battle maps that draw the visitor into the planning and execution of the battles. A worthwhile visit–and active and career military are welcome free of charge.

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