Mississippi Valley River Scenic Drive brings nature, history, communities together

Monday, April 2, 2012
Submitted map

About 22 years ago, Estelle Wood had an idea. She took it to Dr. Frank Nickell and other faculty members in the history department at Southeast Missouri State University, and the Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive was born.

"We have a wonderful landscape, a lot of historical buildings, churches and places of interest," says Wood, who still coordinates the drive each year.

The driving tour of Southeast Missouri is patterned after the Spoon River Drive in Peoria, Ill. "It's geared for family entertainment (for a) weekend," Wood says. "You can travel at your own speed (and) see what you want at your own pace."

The drive, now in its 22nd year, has something for everyone. Stops along the route include historic sites, parks and nature areas, museums, wineries and more. And it just keeps getting bigger. "We have something new every year," Wood says. The Pie Safe in Pocahontas is an addition to this year's drive. The bakery and cafe is housed in a 1920s bank with its original vault.

Many of the stops on the route plan live music or demonstrations during the weekend of the drive. At the Saxon Lutheran Memorial, a historic log cabin village in Frohna, Mo., visitors will get a chance to see how things were done in the 1800s with demonstrations that range from making bread to splitting logs.

Another glimpse of the past can be found in the Jackson City Park. For the second year in a row, the Clark Vintage Baseball Team from Murphysboro, Ill., will play a team of local citizens. "They were here last year, and it was hilarious," Wood says. "They come in costume and play with 1800s rules and regulations, vintage bats and balls." The game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Jackson City Park.

Another highlight of the drive, when Mother Nature cooperates, is the Pinecrest Azalea Garden near Oak Ridge. "That attracts hundreds of people," Wood says. "Hopefully the azaleas will be blooming."

The Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive will be April 28 and 29. Contact the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau or businesses and sites on the route for additional information.

Map key

1: Altenburg -- Historic town, Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum, Saxon Landing Site and Tower Rock (in Wittenburg)

2: Tower Rock Vineyard and Winery

3: Hemman Winery

4: Brazeau -- Historic town and church

5: Bollinger Mill State Historic Site

6: Jackson City Park

7: Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center

8: Cape River Heritage Museum

9: River Campus and Crisp Museum

10: Glenn House

11: Historic downtown Cape Girardeau

12: Trail of Tears State Park

13: River Ridge Winery

14: Saxon Lutheran Memorial

16: Bollinger County Museum of Natural History

17: Marble Hill Senior Citizens Center

18: Massey Log House

20: Whippoorwill Lake

22: Oak Ridge Community Wide Garage Sale

23: Pinecrest Azalea Farm

24: Old Appleton Historic Bridge

25: Old Appleton -- Historic town and churches

26: Hunter Valley Winery

29: Eggers & Co. General Store B&B

30: Cowboy Church

31: Lazy L Safari Park

32: St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad

33: Landgraf Red Barn

34: Steele Crest Winery

35: Rothbrick Crush Vineyard

37: The Pie Safe in Old Appleton

Note: Some sites were combined, accounting for missing numbers

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