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Archive for missouri

Missouri’s National Forest

By Linda Tancs

The only national forest in Missouri is Mark Twain National Forest. Named for arguably the state’s most prominent Missourian, most of the forest lies within the Ozark Highlands, located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Its topography includes caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized springs like Greer Spring. The second largest spring in Missouri, it discharges an average of 222 million gallons of water per day, more than doubling the flow of the Eleven Point River. In fact, the spring’s impact on the river (Eleven Point Wild and Scenic River) resulted in its designation as one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in the nation. 

The King of Ragtime’s House

By Linda Tancs

Scott Joplin, an American composer and pianist, was known as the “King of Ragtime” because of the fame he achieved for his ragtime compositions. Many of his best-known works (like “The Entertainer,” “Elite Syncopations,” “March Majestic” and “Ragtime Dance”) were written between 1901 and 1903 in a small flat on what is now known as Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri. Ragtime enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1970s when the motion picture “The Sting” used “The Entertainer” as its theme song. The Scott Joplin House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is now a State Historic Site filled with turn-of-the-century antiques and exhibits interpreting Joplin’s life and work.

Fort D

By Linda Tancs

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort D is the last remaining fort of four that protected the city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, against Confederate attack during the Civil War. Local militia helped build all of the forts under the leadership of Lt. John Wesley Powell, who would later gain fame as an explorer of the Grand Canyon. Among the events taking place there are battle reenactments and living history events. A self-guided tour features original earthworks and 10 display panels that explore the history of the fort and those who served there.

Laughing Waters

By Linda Tancs

Karst topography is the result of the dissolving action of water on bedrock and is characterized by caves, sinkholes, springs and natural bridges. It’s the prime attraction at Missouri’s Ha Ha Tonka State Park. According to Ozark legend, the park’s unusual name derives from a Native American phrase meaning “laughing waters.” Located on the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, it boasts the state’s 12th-largest spring, discharging more than 48 million gallons of water daily into the stream that flows into the Lake of the Ozarks. Other karst features include the 70-foot-wide natural bridge and 500-foot-long sinkhole. Luckily, the majority of these sights are preserved and viewable from trails and boardwalks within the park’s Karst Natural Area.

Following the Mississippi

By Linda Tancs

You may have wondered whether you can drive along the course of the Mississippi River. Yes, there’s a road for that. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through 10 states. Its designation as a National Scenic Byway is in recognition of the route’s outstanding assets in the areas of culture, history, nature, recreation and scenic beauty. The different roads and highways comprising the byway are marked by a green pilot’s wheel logo to keep you on track. Watch for river-related attractions and interpretative centers. You can take in the whole route in 36 hours of straight driving, but why not stretch it out for four to 10 days and enjoy the ride.

America’s Favorite Pioneer Girl

By Linda Tancs

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie book series, is arguably America’s favorite pioneer girl. Her home on Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri, is pivotal in her life and career as the place where she wrote her acclaimed Little House books and became an international success. Visitors to Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum can see her study and writing desk as well as the many treasures that remain exactly how Laura left them when she died in 1957. In addition to her home, fans will love the museum, where Pa’s fiddle, handwritten manuscripts for the books and keepsakes of the Ingalls and Wilder families figure prominently among the exhibits. The fiddle even gets played annually in October during Wilder Days, a festival celebrating Laura’s life and times.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Wren’s Legacy in Missouri

By Linda Tancs

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, is a 17th-century English church located in Fulton, Missouri. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666 devastated London (and subsequently badly damaged during the Blitz), it was shipped piece-by-piece to its current location at Westminster College in Fulton, where it was faithfully restored to Wren’s specifications and serves as the only building in the U.S. designed by him. Beneath the church is the National Churchill Museum, honoring the prime minister’s visit to the college in 1946 and recognized in 2009 by  Congress as America’s permanent tribute to him.

Caves and Cowboys in Missouri

By Linda Tancs

Where can you find rides and attractions, dining and shows, festivals, crafts and a show cave? That would be at Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-style theme park in Branson, Missouri, set upon the foundations of a genuine 1800s mining town. The popular Ozarks tourist attraction was built around Marvel Cave, a wet limestone cave boasting the largest entrance room in the United States. A cave tour is included with theme park admission. Today through October 27 the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival takes place, featuring visiting craftsmen and a salute to the American cowboy that includes wild mustangs, an old-fashioned barn dance, chuck wagon cooking and more. This year’s event coincides with the final run of the Wild West Show, inspired by the legendary Buffalo Bill.

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.

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