Missouri, Where History Lives


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historic , historic district , historic monuments , Historic Sites , National Historic Site , State Historic Site , Museums , museum exhibits , museums , Historic Sites / Civil War
All Aboard the Time Machine
Author: Hoffman Lewis

Time travel seems complicated. There’s the planning: figuring out how to jump from one century to another; how to get back; and don’t forget the building of a time machine. Luckily, in Missouri, we make time travel easy. That’s because history comes to life throughout the Show-Me State. Everywhere you turn, you find fascinating glimpses into the past.

Venture into a simpler time when you visit Bonnots Mill National Historic District. The quaint town of Bonnots Mill transports visitors to the days of Missouri’s early French settlers. Situated near the confluence of the Osage River and the Missouri River, this area provides a perfectly lovely place to spend some time. The two-block business district features a general store, a post office, an old bank and a historic saloon. Make a weekend of it by staying at the circa 1875 Dauphine Hotel Bed and Breakfast Inn, where room rates include a cooked-to-order country breakfast.


Some historic figures seem larger than life, and Daniel Boone is certainly one of them. See how this heroic frontiersman lived, when you visit the Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village, seven miles northwest of the village of Defiance. Tour the elegant, four-story home. Explore the 19th-century village, including the schoolhouse, a chapel, a gristmill and a carpenter’s shop. Customize your experience by choosing either a guided or a self-guided tour. Also on the subject of Daniel Boone, in Marthasville, 20 miles west of Defiance, visit the newly opened Daniel Boone Monument Village, featuring a log cabin built in 1799, the 1850s schoolhouse, the 1860s Dickhaus-Stemme house, and a second log cabin (date unknown). 

Architecture admirers and history buffs alike are wowed by the exquisite architecture and French antiques of the circa 1806 La Maison de Guibourd et les Jardins, in Ste. Genevieve. This beautiful home, which exemplifies the French Colonial style, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Open daily (except some holidays), April through the first weekend of December.

All manner of gorgeous homes are on display in the Lexington Old Neighborhoods Historic District. Lexington, founded in 1822, was, by 1830, the largest and most important Missouri River town west of St. Louis. You can see and tour homes and churches in a wide variety of architectural styles.

Missouri played an enormous role in the Civil War. In fact, the war divided the state; some soldiers fought for the Union and others aligned with the Confederacy. Today, visitors can learn a lot from the many Civil War sites in our state. The Fort D Historic Site stands as the only remaining earthen forts, of the four built around the strategically important town of Cape Girardeau. Lieutenant John Wesley Powell, who later became famous as the explorer of the Grand Canyon, directed the building of the fort. Several large cannons, including one that could fire a 32-pound cannonball, protected the town.

In Jefferson City, Lincoln University and the Soldiers Memorial Plaza remind us of the black soldiers who fought in the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantries. Lincoln University, founded to provide higher education for freed slaves, is one of the oldest historically black colleges in the nation. Both the university and the Memorial Plaza offer tours.

The Jefferson City National Cemetery pays respect to the fallen heroes of several wars, from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. The first burial took place in 1861. This cemetery serves as the burial ground for both Union and Confederate soldiers; Federal gravestones have a familiar arched top, while the Confederate gravestones have a gabled angle top.

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