Trip Ideas: The Civil War: Grant and Gray Ghosts
History buffs planning a tour in the Show-Me State should know Missouri has an abundance of Civil War history. Two distinct Civil War trails across the Show-Me State follow the movements of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and of Confederate Guerrilla fighters; this Trip Idea features stops along both trails.
Day One
Although it's not associated with either the Ulysses S. Grant or Gray Ghosts trails, this site is one of the most important battlefields in Missouri. Fought on August 10, 1861, the Battle of Wilson's Creek was a pivotal battle in Missouri and the second major battle of the Civil War. More than 2,500 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded or declared missing during the five hours of intense fighting. Spend your morning here before driving north to your next destination.
6424 W. Farm Road 182, Republic MO 65738, 417-732-2662
Hours: Visitor center: Daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
After a day on the road exploring history, stay at this boutique hotel, which is patterned after Europe's fine small hotels. Before you turn in, savor a meal at the hotel's signature restaurant, Chaz on the Plaza. And remember, if your time at the Battle of Westport site was cut short, you can always go back tomorrow.
325 Ward Parkway, Kansas City MO 64112, 816-756-3800
Hours: Front desk: 24 hours
Day Two
Day two of your journey starts with a two-hour drive east to Arrow Rock. At the state historic site, Landmarks include famed Civil War artist George Caleb Bingham's house, the circa 1834 Huston Tavern, a one-room jail, and a visitor center museum. There's a lot of history in Arrow Rock; another site to explore is the Arrow Rock African-American Museum.
Van Buren Street, Arrow Rock MO 65320, 660-837-3330
Hours: Grounds: Daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Office: Daily, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
After spending time exploring Arrow Rock, you've no doubt worked up an appetite. Well, the J. Huston Tavern has been serving meals to travelers along the Santa Fe Trail since 1834, so it's safe to say they know a thing or two about cooking. If you need help with menu options, the tavern was voted as having the "Best Fried Chicken in the State," by Rural Missouri Magazine readers in 2011. Please click the link to see their hours of operation, which vary by season and by day.
304 Main St., Arrow Rock MO 65320, 660-837-3200
Hours: Please click the link above to see the hours of operation
See the sights of Boonville on this self-guided walking tour, featuring more than 20 points of interest, such as The Old Jail and Hotel Frederick. Boonville is one of the cities along the Gray Ghosts Trail and was the site of four Civil War battles.
320 First Street, Boonville MO 65233, 660-882-3967
Hours: Tour: Available 24 hours
After another busy day exploring, you've earned the right to a good night's sleep. The hotel, built in 1905, holds 24 guestrooms, many with a view of the Missouri River. Enjoy a Cajun-inspired meal at Glenn's Cafe, it's on-site.
501 E. High St., Boonville MO 65233, 660-882-2828
Hours: Front desk: 24 hours
Day Three
It's about an hour's drive from Boonville to this Battlefield, which is open to the public and contains a picnic area and two Civil War markers. The site is among those listed on Missouri's Gray Ghosts Trail. The Battle of Centralia, Sept. 27, 1864, featured Southern partisans commanded by "Bloody Bill" Anderson, whose men wiped out a Union force led by Maj. A.V.E. Johnson. The battle took place within hours of the Centralia Massacre. According to reports, Jesse James fired the shot that killed Major Johnson.
Rangeline Road, Centralia MO 65240, 573-682-2772
Hours: Dawn-dusk
From Centralia, take a 45-minute drive south to The Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, which archives the history of Callaway County. While you're here, learn the Civil War connection to this county, known as The Kingdom of Callaway.
513 Court St., Fulton MO 65251, 573-642-0570
Hours: Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; also by appointment.
You've spent the morning soaking up Civil War history in Centralia and Fulton, now treat yourself with a big lunch at Beks. It's located downtown, four-and-a-half blocks from Westminster College and the Winston Churchill Museum.
511 Court Street, Fulton MO 65251, 573-592-7117
Hours: Mon.-Wed., 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
From Fulton, drive 25 minutes south to Missouri's capital. An important historic site, National Cemetery, contains more than 1,500 burial sites for veterans of wars dating from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. This site was originally intended to be used as a burial site for Civil War soldiers from the surrounding area, with the first burial taking place in 1861; several soldiers from the aforementioned Battle of Centralia are among those buried here. Federal gravestones have a familiar arched top while the Confederate gravestones have a gabled angle top.
1024 East McCarty St., Jefferson City MO 65101, 314-845-8320
Hours: Daily: Dawn-dusk
The Capitol, completed in 1918, covers three acres in downtown Jefferson City. Inside the Capitol, explore the Missouri State Museum, which features exhibits of historical significance, including one focusing on the state's role in the Civil War.
201 W. Capitol Ave., Jefferson City MO 65101, 573-751-2854
Hours: Capitol: Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
When you've finished your Capitol tour, drive just a few blocks south to Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, where newly renovated guest rooms await. You can dine at Capitol Plaza or enjoy one of the dozens of restaurants that are within 10 minutes of the hotel.
415 West McCarty Street, Jefferson City MO 65101, 573-635-1234
Hours: Front desk: 24 hours
Day Four
It's a two-hour drive from Jefferson City to this 9.65-acre National Park Service site that interprets the lives of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia. Their house, White Haven, is a National Historic Landmark; it is one of several historic structures on the property. A visitor center, introductory film, museum, and interpretive tours are available daily.
7400 Grant Road, St. Louis MO 63123, 314-842-1867
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Grant's Farm is the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family, located of the city of St. Louis. The Farm is home to more than 900 animals representing more than 100 species from six continents. The Farm takes its name from our 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant. In the 1850s, Grant founded and farmed a portion of the 281 acres. Admission to Grant's Farm is free to all ages.
10501 Gravois Road, St. Louis MO 63123, 314-843-1700
Hours: Summer hours: Tue.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Jefferson Barracks was established in 1826 as the country's first "Infantry School of Practice." It was named in honor of former President Thomas Jefferson. It served as a major United States military installation until 1946 and played an important role in the Unites States westward expansion.
345 North Road, St. Louis MO 63125, 314-544-5714
Hours: Park: daily, 8 a.m.-30 minutes past sunset; gift shop and museums: Wed.-Sun., noon-4 p.m.
Take a break from history to enjoy barbecue at this legendary St. Louis eatery. Pappy's specializes in ribs, dry-rubbed and slow-smoked over apple and cherry wood. Voted one of the 101 Best Places to Chow Down in America by The Travel Channel.
3106 Olive St., St. Louis MO 63103, 314-535-4340
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.