All this week, The American Countryside is in St. Joseph, Missouri. I’ve been around St. Joe for most of my life and here are seven great things to experience there. I’m betting that even if you live in the area, there are items on this list you need to take time to experience for yourself!
The Pony Express and Jesse James are the two sites for which most people know St. Joe. It’s true, both the James Home and the Pony Express stables are not to be missed, but what many people unfortunately miss is the Patee House Museum. It was the headquarters for the Express and sits adjacent to the James Home. The Patee House is consistently ranked as one of the top museums in the Midwest for its collection of artifacts. It is a real gem.
St. Joseph’s Parkway System is too often taken for granted by locals. They may not realize St. Joe was WAY ahead of its time when the 26 mile system was designed in 1918. It’s today on the National Register of Historic Places. You can enjoy a drive, bike or walk along its beautiful winding roads and trails.
1000 Places to See Before You Die ranked St. Joe’s Glore Psychiatric Museum among it’s chosen stops. The Glore is very interesting and has plenty of exhibits to explore. HOWEVER, don’t miss out on other museums under the same roof! Part of the St. Joseph Musuem complex, you will find an extensive Native American Artifact collection (all for the same admission price with the Glore) and a current temporary exhibit on Civil War Medicine.
Mt. Mora Cemetery is a fascinating stop. I used to never give any thought to “touring” a cemetery. This one is worth the time. The burial architecture here is not to be missed. The site dates to 1851 and there is an annual cemetery tour held every fall in which “residents” of the cemetery come to life to tell their story (in a respectful and “non-spooky way).
Billed as St. Joe’s oldest restaurant, The Old Hoof and Horn has been around since 1896. It sits adjacent to the St. Joe stockyards. While most of the old stockyards are gone (but still operating) the mighty Stock Yards Exchange Building still stands as an icon overlooking the yards and the Hoof and Horn.
The Kansas City Chiefs now call St. Joe home for a few weeks every July and August for their training camp. If you have even a mild interest in sports, it’s worth the time to stop by and see some of the NFL greats and some NFL hopefuls put in their workouts at Missouri Western State University.
Along the river you’ll find some great stops as well. Ft. Smith Park is new to visitors, but long on history. The recently uncovered earthworks date to the Civil War. It offers great views of the river and city. Meanwhile, along the banks of the Missouri you’ll find the state-of-the-art Remington Nature Center which is great for young and old alike.