Cape Girardeau takes pride in its history


You have a flood retaining wall. You are in a state with a boatload of famous people. What do you?

If you’re Cape Girardeau, you have an artist paint a Missouri Wall of Fame on the flood wall. Viola! You now have a tourist attraction. IMG_6960

And what an attraction. It was one of the must-see things for me during our trip there. Lisa and I took a day trip from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau.

The Wall of Fame features 45 people – native or who played a significant role in the state – on the 500-foot long section.

The Wall features Show Me state natives Walter Cronkite, T.S. Eliot, Harry Truman, Josephine Baker, Yogi Berra, as well as World War II hero General Omar Bradley. People on the wall who earned the love of Missourians include Kansas City Royals great George Brett and St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan “The Man” Musial.


It was a cold day when we visited. It was actually the coldest day we experienced during the trip. But, that didn’t stop us from taking a walk along the riverfront and the Wall of Fame.


Besides the Wall of Fame, the northern section of the artwork features key events in the Cape’s history – The Spanish’s first encounter with area Native Americans, Civil War moments, as well as the visit by President Taft.


The Mississippi River Tales murals also feature murals recognizing the first railroad development of the area and Napoleon’s agreement for the Louisiana Purchase.


While enjoying our trek along the frigid Mississippi River, we checked out some barges in the water. A long one was standing by just off the river bank. It was waiting for a smaller one to clear a river bend upriver. Once that barge passed, ours moved along at a quick speed.


The painted walls are nice attractions downtown. Even without them, downtown Cape Girardeau would be worth checking out.

Restaurants and antique stores are predominant on the few blocks that make up the old downtown area.

We met Stacy Lane, who works with the visitors bureau, for lunch at Socials. Socials offers an eclectic menu. Lisa and Stacy each had a four-cheese grilled cheese sandwich – the Ooey Gooey. I had a chicken salad sandwich that was delicious. I tried the tomato basil soup at Stacy’s suggestion. Man! It was delicious. It had a great flavor. If you like tomato soup, you’ll love this one.


After lunch, Lisa and I made our way along downtown. We checked out a sports restaurant/bar called Hot Shots. It may be worth visiting to watch some game. We didn’t try the food since we had finished lunch a few minutes earlier.


We checked out a few antique stores. Neither of us are into antique shopping, but the browsing was pretty cool. We spent a lot of time at Pastimes Antiques.


They had a player piano on display. You put in a quarter and the piano plays some old songs. Pretty neat to watch.

I liked the way they set up some displays. Antique items seemed like they were set up in individual room displays.

We checked out old magazines, including one featuring a young Pete Rose of Major League Baseball fame.

If you are in the market for an old letterman’s jacket, they have that in stock.


Vintage dresses were available to anyone interested.


Have an old vehicle license plate you’d like to sell? Maybe, they can take care of it for you at Pastimes.

I bought a Travel and Leisure magazine from the early 1980s for Lisa. I had actually bought her a subscription to the current magazine (and digital edition) as one of her anniversary gifts.


After our downtown visit, we headed to the local newspaper building for some neat tile murals.

Two murals represent the history of the print media in the southeast Missouri region.

We noticed a mannequin sitting on a bench near an intersection. It was in front of an antique store. It’s a nice marketing tool, because the mannequin catches your attention, and then you look around to figure out why she’s there.


Nearby was artwork on the side of a music store. It covered the history of music in The Cape.

An old hotel sits along the main street to downtown. The Magnolia is on the Registry of Historical Places and is currently home to businesses. I suggested to Lisa that I’d like to see a museum of sorts or maybe a nice coffee shop in the lobby area.


We stopped at the Old Courthouse, which is still used.


The building plays a role in an upcoming movie, “Gone Girl.” The movie, starring Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosamund Pike and Tyler Perry. It’s directed by David Fincher, who has made movies such as “Se7en,” “Fight Club” and “The Social Network.”

The movie was filmed in and around Cape Girardeau. Some of the local spots used include Common Pleas Courthouse Gazebo, “The Bar” on the corner of Themis/Spanish, several residential homes throughout Cape Girardeau, the old Federal Building in the 300 block of Broadway, the Drury Lodge, different spots along the river and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.


Speaking of the bridge, the city is proud of the new bridge that connects Missouri and Illinois. We checked it out. Its style reminded us of the Omaha-Council Bluffs pedestrian bridge. I love our bridge, so I can see why they like theirs.

In addition to the downtown area, we visited the area’s nature center. It’s home to an interesting look at nature and human interaction.


The center has exhibits that focus on hunting, fishing and economic development, as well as conservation of natural resources. I think you tend to find nature centers that either focus on one aspect or the other – hunting or natural resources. But, not both.


We checked out some of the creatures that call the Cape Girardeau Conservation and Nature Center home.

The most interesting animal on display was a two-headed snake. The rat snake was conjoined at birth. A local youth found the snake in his yard and the family brought it to the center. The snake has been at the center since 2007. It’s unlikely it would have survived in the wild, because a predator would have gotten it, according to a center staff member.


The snake would probably have run into a twig or rock that could have divided the heads. Each head would have tried to move the body in its direction. Thus, a predator would likely have found it an easy meal.

I guess the heads don’t like each other and have fought over food. They block one head while feeding one head. Then, they feed the other head. They don’t have to, but this satisfies each’s need to feed.


The center has some gar fish in a tank. The fish is a cool one to watch.

A turtle made for a great photo opp.


The center has plenty of birds and squirrels nearby.

The nature center has a couple of walking trails. Since it was so cold, we decided to skip a walk on them. We will have to check them out on our next visit, though.

It was getting late in the day as we finished our visit. We “had” to check out the old Bollinger Mill and covered wagon, a few miles west of town.


We managed to make it to the mill right at sunset. We thought it added to the visit. The moon was perfectly situation between the bridge and the mill. The one concern we had was the sheet of ice in front of the mill. That was one walk – or skate – we didn’t want to take.

While we planned for a day trip to The Cape, we learned that we need to spend a couple of days there. We didn’t get the chance to check out Civil War sites, the Trail of Tears State Park, as well as a few other attractions.

We plan to return to Cape Girardeau during warm weather to take advantage of the sites we have yet to visit.

For more information on Cape Girardeau, check out their website at

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to the Visitors Bureau for the complimentary lunch at Socials. However, all opinions and comments are ours.

Please check out the gallery for some more Wall of Fame members and other attractions in Cape Girardeau: