A US state in the midwest that was once a transport hub on the Mississippi River and Missouri River, there are plenty of intriguing historic landmarks in Missouri to visit. Known as the ‘Gateway to the West’, as St Louis’ Gateway Arch represents, Missouri was admitted as the 24th state to the Union in 1821. It’s also known most popularly as the ‘Show Me State’. This nickname revolves around statements by US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who once famously said, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
Famous people born in Missouri include Mark Twain, Ginger Rogers, musicians Sheryl Crow and Eminem. But, perhaps the most renowned Missourian of all was President Harry Truman, who was born in the small town of Lamar and became the President who dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, ending World War II during his first few months in office.
Missouri is also an agricultural state with around 95,000 farms growing cattle and crops like rice, soybeans, cotton and corn. There are also several quirky landmarks in Missouri like a giant rocking chair, a massive rooster, a 12 ft pecan and the world’s largest chess piece.
- Missouri Landmarks
- Historic Landmarks in Missouri
- 1- JC Nichols Memorial Fountain
- 2- The Gateway Arch
- 3- Governor’s Mansion
- 4- Missouri State Capitol
- 5- Alley Spring Mill
- 6- University of Missouri
- 7- Saint Louis Art Museum
- 8- Busch Stadium
- 9- Chain of Rocks Bridge
- 10- Kauffman Stadium
- 11- Union Station
- 12- Boone Country Courthouse
- 13- America’s National Churchill Museum
- 14- Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
- 15- Kelpzig Mill
- 16- Bob’s Gasoline Alley
- Natural Landmarks in Missouri
- Historic Landmarks in Missouri
Historic Landmarks in Missouri
1- JC Nichols Memorial Fountain
The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in Kansas City is dedicated to Jesse Clyde Nichols, a city developer who designed some of the most popular shopping malls and plazas.
The fountain’s pool measures 80ft in diameter, and the four figures stand over 10ft tall.
The fountain was made in Paris and transported to New York with the original aim of being part of a larger sculpture piece. The piece was unfortunately destroyed and sold as scrap.
The Nichols family bought the piece in 1951 and restored it to working condition.
The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is at 47th Mill Creek Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64111.
2- The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is a Missouri monument that stands 623ft (190m) tall and is the tallest arch in the world.
The arch, which was designed by a Finnish-American architect, Eero Saarinen, in 1947, is also Missouri’s tallest, most accessible building.
Despite no one believing his design would stand, it was completed in 1965 and opened to the public in 1967.
The Gateway Arch attracts millions of tourists every year.
An observation area at the top of the Gateway can hold up to 160 people and has lovely views of the Mississippi River and St. Louis.
The Gateway Arch is at Gateway Arch National Park, 11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102.
3- Governor’s Mansion
The Missouri Governor’s Mansion has been the official residence of Missouri’s Governors since 1872 and is one of the oldest governor’s homes in the United States.
The mansion sits on 10 acres (4 ha) and overlooks the Missouri River and the Missouri State Capitol.
It is also officially a historic site listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Missouri Governor’s Mansion was built in only eight months and completed in late 1871.
Most of the manual labour to build the mansion was completed by prisoners of a nearby penitentiary.
It includes a stairway with a hand-carved black walnut banister, elaborate 17-foot ceilings, and handsome Renaissance Revival furnishings.
The Missouri Governor’s Mansion is at 100 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
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4- Missouri State Capitol
The Missouri State Capitol is in Jefferson City and is the state’s third capital after the previous two were destroyed in fires.
It houses the Missouri General Assembly and the Executive branch of the Missouri government.
The Missouri State Capitol is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Capitol features a dome that reaches 238ft (73m) and a grand stairway entrance 30ft (9m) wide.
All four floors of Missouri’s Capitol are open to the public through a 45-minute guided tour, which is an excellent way to see the historic and decorative features of the building, which tells the story of the state of Missouri.
The Missouri State Capitol is at 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
5- Alley Spring Mill
Alley Spring Mill is in a small Alley Spring community in Shannon County built in 1894 and is so picturesque, it’s possibly one of the most photographed mills in the state.
The 100-year-old mill once powered one of the largest freshwater springs in the state.
The water remains 57F all year round, and its dark blue hue is because of the dissolved dolomite bed stone.
Alley Spring Mill is open for visitors from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
There is no charge to visit the mill, but donations will help the community maintain the mill.
You can even purchase souvenirs such as books and postcards at the mill.
Alley Spring Mill is at Ozark Scenic National Park, 404 Watercress Rd, Van Buren, MO 63965.
6- University of Missouri
The University of Missouri opened in 1839 and is the largest University in Missouri.
It was the first to be built to the west of the Mississippi River and includes the world’s first journalism school.
The estate covers 1262 acres (510 ha) and is maintained as a botanical garden.
The University features a few buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of its most intriguing features is its Research Reactor Center, the world’s most powerful university research reactor and is the United States’ sole source of isotopes used in nuclear medicine.
This Missouri landmark plays an important role in the history of the United States.
The University of Missouri is at 230 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.
7- Saint Louis Art Museum
Dating back to 1879, the Saint Louis Art Museum was originally known as the Saint Louis School of Museum and Fine Arts and was part of Washington University.
Over the years, the museum went through several changes, including being separated from the University and some major redesigning.
The final form of the museum opened to the public in 2013.
The museum features 20th Century German paintings, handwoven Turkish rugs, Egyptian mummies, Nazi confiscated pieces, and some of the most extensive collections of paintings received as gifts and donations by famous artists.
SLAM is at 1 Fine Arts Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110.
8- Busch Stadium
The Busch Stadium opened in 2006 and is a baseball park located in St. Louis.
The park is home to the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball.
August A. Busch Jr. moved the St. Louis Cardinals out of the Grand Avenue Busch Stadium into a new ballpark to attract the fans necessary to support a Major League team.
Busch Stadium has a seating capacity of 44,494 visitors and contains 3,706 club seats and 61 luxury suites.
The nearly circular structure has an outside diameter of over 800ft (243 m), covering more than 12 acres (4.8 ha) and is 130ft (37 m) tall, measured from the playing field to the top of the stadium.
The Busch Stadium is at 700 Clark Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102.
9- Chain of Rocks Bridge
The Chain of Rocks Bridge which stretches across the Mississippi River, is one of the most interesting bridges in America.
Opened to the public in 1929, it features a 22-degree bend in the middle of the bridge, which sets it apart from most bridges that are usually straight.
This bend resulted from unstable flooring on the original route and protests by riverboat men.
The bridge got its name from an extensive series of rocky rapids called the Chain of Rocks which made the river extremely hard to navigate.
The bridge used to be painted red but was changed to green to appear less visible during World War II.
The Chain of Rocks Bridge is at 10820 Riverview Dr, St. Louis, MO 63137.
10- Kauffman Stadium
Kauffman Stadium is home to the baseball team, the Kansas City Royals.
It opened in 1973 when multipurpose stadiums were popular, thus breaking the trend by building a baseball-only stadium.
Commonly known as ‘The K’, it is one of the most beautiful baseball parks globally and the most lively place in Kansas City.
Kauffman Stadium has one of the largest HD video boards in Major League Baseball, measuring 85ft wide and 105ft high.
The stadium’s 322ft wide water spectacular is also the largest privately-funded fountain in the world. The stadium can seat up to 37,903 guests.
Kauffman Stadium is at 1 Royal Way, Kansas City, MO 64129.
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11- Union Station
Kansas City Union Station dates back to 1914 and is a historic landmark in Missouri.
It was a popular union station in 1945 during World War II, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers.
After the war, it started losing popularity and reached a slow but steady decline to closure in 1985.
By the late 1990s, the station reopened as an entertainment site with museums and other public attractions.
Then by the early 2000s, it restarted operations as a railway station but continued operating the museums and other attractions.
The Kansas City Union Station is at 30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108.
12- Boone Country Courthouse
Boone County Courthouse in Columbia is home to the 13th Judicial Court of Missouri.
This is the third courthouse currently in that location, as the previous two were destroyed in fires.
The courthouse was commissioned in 1906 and was completed in 1909 with a budget of around $100,000.
In the early days of the court system, the trials were held outdoors in pleasant weather.
It wasn’t until the late 1820s when they decided to start making actual courthouses for the proceedings.
The square where the courthouse is located holds several historical and artistic memorabilia.
The Boone County Courthouse is at 705 E Walnut St, Columbia, MO 65201.
13- America’s National Churchill Museum
America’s National Churchill Museum is a tribute to Winston Churchill and is on the campus of Westminster College.
In 1946, Sir Churchill delivered one of the most famous speeches in US history on the college campus.
In memory of this speech, the college bought a church from London in his tribute.
The National Churchill Museum is beneath the church, and both have gone through several renovations over the years, with the latest being in 2002.
Despite this, it still looks almost the same as it first did in 1677 and is an important piece of US history that you can’t miss.
America’s National Churchill Museum is at 501 Westminster Ave, Fulton, MO 65251.
14- Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Saint Louis’s Cathedral Basilica is a cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church located in Saint Louis. It opened in 1914 and became a basilica in 1997 when Pope John Paul II deemed it so.
The basilica was constructed to replace the previous Cathedral of Saint Louis located along the Mississippi River.
Since its opening in 1914, the Cathedral has been lovingly cared for and has gone through millions of dollars of renovations.
This has given the Cathedral a unique touch of history over the years, and it has a breathtaking beauty of its own.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is at 4431 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108.
15- Kelpzig Mill
Klepzig Mill is a small turbine mill in Winona’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways built in 1928 by Prussian-German, Walter Klepzig.
It is a sawmill house built by nailing vertical planks to a hand-sewn sill at the bottom and a plate at the top, replacing the customary log-built structure of its time.
The broken, beaten-down, and partially renovated look of the Klepzig Mill is a testament to the strength of the people of the area to withstand any hardships thrown at them.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The Klepzig Mill is at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Winona, MO 65588.
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16- Bob’s Gasoline Alley
Bob’s Gasoline Alley is near the town of Cuba and is a quirky landmark in Missouri with an extensive collection of gas station memorabilia and other Route 66 memorabilia.
The station started because Bob Mullen, a collector of items, couldn’t store all of the memorabilia at his home, so he decided to open Bob’s Gasoline Alley to showcase his collections to others.
Unfortunately, after Bob passed away, visiting hours were reduced, and the property is up for sale.
Bob’s Gasoline Alley is at 822 Beamer Ln, Cuba, MO 65453.
Natural Landmarks in Missouri
17- Grand Falls
The Grand Falls in Joplin is the largest continuously flowing waterfall in Missouri.
Situated in Shoal Creek, the water drops from heights of 12ft (3.6m) into a large pool.
On top of the waterfalls is a man-made dam, a reservoir that supplies water to the residents of Joplin.
The falls are created by a ledge of solid chert rock that measures 163ft across the falls.
The waterfall accumulates into a body of water that is safe for kids of all ages to splash in, as long as they’re supervised.
The Grand Falls is at 5685 Riverside Dr, Joplin, MO 64804.
18- Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park is in the Saint Francois Mountains and is known for, and named after, large boulders that resemble pink circus elephants.
Dumbo is the largest of the elephants and is 27 ft tall (8.2 m), 34 ft (10.4) long, 17 ft (5.18) wide and weighs 680 tons.
The exact number of elephants boulders in the park is unknown.
The boulders are made of weathered Graniteville Granite, a grained alkali granite consisting of 55% alkali feldspar, 40% quartz, and less than 5% mafic minerals.
Elephant Rocks State Park is at 7390, 7406 MO-21, Belleview, MO 63623.
19- Meramec Caverns
Meramec Caverns is a cavern system located in the Ozarks for over 400 million years, slowly forming through limestone deposits.
The cavern system stretches for over 4.6 miles (7.4km) and was previously used as a shelter by Native Americans.
Thousands of slaves once took shelter at these caverns.
The Meramec Caverns are among the most visited caverns in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of guests coming over annually.
It features some of the rarest pieces of art and entertainment, such as the ‘Wine Table’ composed almost entirely underwater and made out of Aragonite.
The Meramec Caverns are at 1135 Hwy W, Sullivan, MO 63080.
20- Big Spring
Big Spring is in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and is one of the largest springs in the USA.
Studies have shown that the water carries a load of dissolved limestone equivalent to 70 tons a day.
This dissolved rock gives the spring its colour and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Big Spring also consists of a campground for RVs which all the necessary amenities.
It also features cabins for those who want to stay overnight to get the whole experience and a picnic area.
Big Spring is at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Van Buren, MO 63965.
21- Johnson Shut-Ins State Park
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park is in Reynolds County, covering an area of 8781 acres (3553 ha).
The park carries the East Fork Black River, a portion of the White River that connects Missouri and Arkansas.
The stunning view of the park coupled with the scenic river is why this park is popular among visitors.
Hiking is a popular recreational activity in the park.
There are quite a few beginner-friendly trails and a great experience to try out with family.
Swimming is also a popular activity along the shallow areas of the river.
Rock climbing enthusiasts can also polish their skills at this park.
There is a campground to stay overnight for the whole outdoor experience.
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park is at 148 Taum Sauk Trail, Middle Brook, MO 63656.
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