101 Fun Things to Do: History Buffs

Friday, June 1, 2012
The Red House Interpretive Center

56. Bonne Terre Mine, a national historic site in Bonne Terre, Mo., is the world's largest freshwater dive resort. The mine is listed as one of America's Top 10 Greatest Adventures by National Geographic. Boat tours and walking tours are available.

57. The Bollinger County of Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill, Mo., showcases dinosaur artifacts from a local dinosaur dig, American Indian artifacts, Will Mayfield College artifacts and alternating regional exhibits of historical significance.

58. The Red House Interpretive Center in Cape Girardeau commemorates the life of community founder Louis Lorimier, as well as the November 1803 visit of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The interpretive center houses an early-1800s exhibit that reflects the lives of the early settlers of Cape Girardeau.

59. The Sikeston Depot in Sikeston, Mo., houses historic exhibits of Southeast Missouri and national significance. The depot, built in 1916, is the site of monthly art and cultural events and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mastadon State Historic Site. (photo courtesy Missouri State Parks)

60. At Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial, Mo., excavations have established that Paleo-Indians hunted the American mastodon here during the ice age. Interpretative trails and picnic sites dot the landscape, and the museum tells the natural and cultural story of the Clovis culture, which existed in the area between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago, with artifacts and a mastodon skeleton.

61. Towosaghy State Historic Site in Mississippi County is a former fortified village and civil-ceremonial center for the Mississippian peoples who lived in Southern Missouri between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1400. Visitors can see mounds that speak to the site's past activities and exhibit panels that tell the story of Towosahgy through archaeological excavations.

Stars and Stripes Museum and Library

62. Ten Illinois Union soldiers, using the vacated press of the Bloomfield Herald, published the first "Stars and Stripes" newspaper Nov. 9, 1861, naming it after the American flag. One of the original copies of that 1861 paper is owned by the Stoddard County Historical Society. The history of the publication and the military lives it touched are being preserved at the Stars and Stripes Museum and Library in Bloomfield, Mo.

63. The Historical Society Museum and 1870 Jailhouse in Fredericktown, Mo., has items of Madison County historic and nostalgic interest inside and outside the old jail. The Civil War Museum, operated by the Foundation for Historic Preservation, memorializes the Battle of Fredericktown, which took place Oct. 21, 1861. Fredericktown is also the beginning of the War Eagle Trail.

63. Perry County is known for its Lutheran and German heritage. The Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna, Mo., is dedicated to the 700 Saxon immigrants who came to the U.S. in 1839 from Germany. The grounds feature several log cabins, a log barn, a blacksmith shop, a bake oven and a visitors center. The Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum of Altenburg, Mo., has a gift shop, exhibit hall and tours of 19th century church buildings and cabins. You'll also want to check out the Faherty House at 11 S. Spring St. in Perryville. Built in 1825 as a two-room schoolhouse, it's thought to be the oldest building in the city. A brick addition was built in the 1850s, and the house has been restored to styles of the mid- to late 19th century. It's now maintained by the Perry County Historical Society. The Perry County Museum is a joint venture between the Perry County Historical Society and the City of Perryville. It's a two-story brick house built in 1881 and sits at the city park entrance.

65. The Pioneer Museums in Carter County feature living history exhibits on pioneer life and chores, weaving, spinning, music and storytelling. Children are welcome and pottery, crafts and baskets are available for purchase in the gift shop.

Old Bethel Chapel

66. Old Bethel Chapel near Jackson is the site of the first permanent Baptist house of worship west of the Mississippi River. The chapel was reconstructed in 2007.

67. The Southeast Missouri Agriculture Museum in Miner, Mo., includes two circa-1800 log cabins, holds more than 6,000 pieces of antique farm equipment and a 5,000-square-foot antique store.

68. Old McKendree Chapel on County Road 206 in Cape Girardeau County is regarded as the oldest Protestant church structure standing west of the Mississippi River.

Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Ill.

69. A post-bellum home, Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Ill., has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since Dec. 17, 1969.

70. Old Appleton Bridge, built in 1879, is the second-oldest bridge in Southeast Missouri, eclipsed only by the Burfordville Covered Bridge. After the wrought-iron bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1982, it took almost a quarter-century to put it back together. It's now the centerpiece of the town.

71. New Madrid's place in history was cemented by a series of devastating earthquakes in the early 19th century. Decades later the town, situated on a strategic bend of the Mississippi River, played a pivotal role in the Civil War -- New Madrid and Island No. 10 were the last Confederate strongholds in Missouri. Reminders of the famous quakes, Old South traditions and Civil War history have been preserved with attractions throughout the town. Revisit New Madrid's role in the war at the New Madrid Historical Museum and take a driving tour of Civil War sites around town. Go back in time at the Hunter-Dawson home, a 15-room cypress antebellum mansion open for tours daily. Take a stroll along the 120-foot-long Mississippi River observation deck with panoramic views of the river and the 20-mile long "Bessie Bend." In October, the New Madrid Chamber of Commerce offers the New Madrid Ghost Tours, guided walking tours of haunted sites in the historic town.

Columbus-Belmont State Park (Photo courtesy Kentucky State Parks)

72. Columbus-Belmont State Park in Columbus, Ky., has a campground, picnic sites, trails and a putt-putt golf course. But the site is best known for its role in the Civil War. Confederate forces occupied the river bluffs at Columbus, giving the Confederacy control of the Mississippi River. The Confederates abandoned the site after the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson and Union forces under Gen. Ulyssess S. Grant occupied strategic location from 1862 until the end of the war. Historic fortifications are still recognizable and an antebellum home that served as a Confederate hospital is a museum on the park grounds. The park also has on display a section of chain and the massive anchor used to bar the river during the Civil War.

73. Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site in Kentucky was first occupied by the Mississippian American Indians from 1100 to 1350. Today, the former village and mound-building site is a museum displaying artifacts excavated from the mounds and exhibits on Mississippian way of life, pottery and artwork. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday from March 16 to Nov. 15.

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