Travels 2016: Showing off great attractions in Missouri

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Union Army reenactors march in front of the Old Stagecoach Building during Old Settlers Days in Waynesville.

History and beauty topped our visits to Missouri during 2016. From the days of Lewis and Clark to beautiful art, we enjoyed our stops in Kansas City, St. Joseph, as well as Pulaski County.

Pulaski County ranks high on my list of fun trips. We took in the Civil War, Route 66, an old railroad route and some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve been blessed to see.

More than 100,000 Native Americans were forced from their homes in the southeastern United States and forced to travel to the Oklahoma Territory for their new “homes.” Waynesville, the county seat for Pulaski County, was the site of a camp for thousands during the move.

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Robidoux Creek in Waynesville. The spot was part of an encampment during the Trail of Tears.

Later, Waynesville served as a Union Army outpost during the Civil War. The area had been somewhat sympathetic to the Confederacy. But, the Union took control without a real battle. During the summer, the community staged a Civil War battle reenactment as part of its Old Settlers Days. It was a great experience. Organizers expect the event to grow in 2017. We’re jealous since we have a commitment that weekend and won’t be able to attend.

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General Grant (portrayed by Wayne Issleb) and President Lincoln (Lance Mack) pose for a picture with Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman.

Following the Civil War, the railroad came to Pulaski County, along the northern section of the county. The “Frisco” railroad line (now part of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway) provided an economic boom to the area. Today, the “Frisco” is remembered via monuments and parks.

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Crocker celebrates its railroad history.

As the automobile grew in popularity, the government knew it had to build roads. Route 66 came along and provided travelers a path from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Route 66 ran through Pulaski County. The highway still runs through Waynesville, as well as other towns. The county offers visitors several attractions to visit along the way.

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Waynesville is located along Route 66.

The Kansas City area continues to amaze me. We have been there probably more than 25 times in the past five years or so, and have yet to not be able to find something to enjoy there. We go to act like kids and checked out one of Jesses James’ famous bank robberies. We also took in some beautiful art.

A visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures should be on everyone’s list when coming to Kansas City. Nostalgia fills the air as visitors can see toys from their childhood. They can also learn about toys from different countries.

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You can relive your youth with a visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City.

We were amazed at the detail of the miniatures. Miniature models of furniture sometimes sit next to their life-sized version. Very impressive.

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Miniatures have great detail at the museum.

We enjoy visiting a good art museum. Kansas City has two near each other. Nelson-Atkins and the Kauffmann are always nice places to view some breathtaking art pieces.

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The Nelson Atkins sculpture walk has some impressive works.

Independence is the hometown of President Harry S. Truman. He assumed office following the death of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman had the pressure of approving the use of atomic bombs against Japan in an effort to end World War II.

After he left office in 1953, Truman was known for his daily walks around Independence. A self-guided walking tour highlights Truman-related attractions, as well as other places of interest. I took the tour and enjoyed gaining information about the Missourian, his wife and others.

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Check out the self-guided walking tour in Independence and you’ll see a lot of attractions associated with President Harry S. Truman.

The city is also home to a national pioneer museum. It examines the trails that ran through the area, including the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails. It also looks at the Mormon Trail, which closely followed the Oregon Trail to Utah.

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The trails museum in Independence explores pioneer trails that ran through Missouri, plus others.

A short drive outside Kansas City stands Fort Osage. The replica of an early 1800s military fort is a popular attraction near the small town of Sibley. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) oversaw the construction of the fort. He had noted the area during the Corps of Discovery’s expedition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1804-06.

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I was impressed with the museum’s displays.

Liberty is about a 30-minute drive outside KC. The town is the site of the first successful day time bank robbery. It was pulled off by Jesse James and his gang. They got away with about $60,000 (millions in today’s currency). The bank couldn’t recover the losses and eventually failed.

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Jesse James’ gang pulled off the first daylight bank robbery in American history.

It had been a couple of years since we had visited St. Joe’s downtown area. Wow! Things have changed. New businesses aimed at a younger age group and more public art jumped out at us. The city has four outstanding large murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings. Each was impressive.

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St. Joseph is home to some impressive murals.

We also took in our first NFL preseason camp. It was early August and I needed a football fix. So, we checked out the Kansas City Chiefs’ camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joe. Just watching players run patterns and hearing the coaches discuss plays and what the players should do were enough to satisfy my craving until the National Football League started playing games.

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We checked out the Kansas City Chiefs preseason camp in St. Joe.

We visited the launching area for the Lewis and Clark expedition in St. Charles. The Corp of Discovery launched their two-year trip from St. Charles.

Missouri is known as the “Show me” state. It offers a lot to show visitors. We always enjoy our travels to Missouri. For more information on Missouri attractions, check out www.visitmo.com.