St. Joseph, Missouri, The City Where the West Started


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North America » United States » Missouri » Saint Joseph
November 29th 2011
Published: November 29th 2011
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The Visiting Wanderer



Sometimes we are so concerned with traveling to far off exotic lands to have something exciting to write about, but sometimes there are interesting places within a short drive of where we live. Before I go someplace I always try to find the history of the place to include in what I write. Saint Joseph, Missouriis no different.

The Buchanan County Courthouse is a great example of late 1800’s architecture. It is located at 411 Jules St. and has its own claim to historical fame. The Ford brothers, Robert and Charlie, were tried here for the shooting of Jesse James on April 3, 1882. In just a single day the Ford brothers were indicted, plead guilty, and was sentenced to death. What was unusual was that Governor Crittenden granted a full pardon just two hours after the conviction, which lead to speculation that he was involved in planning the murder of Jesse James.

Sitting at 3406 Frederick Avenue is the Glore Psychiatric Museum. This museum documents the 130 year history of the State Lunatic Asylum No. 2 and is listed as one of the 50 most unusual museums in the country.There are life-size replicas of devices that have been used as treatments for various mental diseases and audio/video explains the history behind them.

The house where Jesse James was shot and killed by Robert Ford can also be found in Saint Joseph. The bullet hole that resulted can still be seen quite clearly in the wall. The Ford brothers had conspired with the Missouri Governor to murder Jesse James instead of trying to capture him alive. It sits at 1202 Penn St.

Established in 1851, Mount Mora Cemetery is the oldest cemetery still operating in Saint Joseph. Burials there have included three Missouri governors, three generals, and two Pony Express riders.

If military history is what you are interested in there is the National Military Heritage Museum. It is a work in progress including a trench replica that shows what it was like to gaze out over the battlefield. They have hundreds of uniforms on display and thousands in storage. Two displays in particular are the 1/19th scale replica of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. Several vehicles and two helicopters are also at home at the museum, an AH-1S Cobra and a UH-1M Iroquois (Huey). Located at 701 Messanie Street.

Perhaps one of the most well-known claims to history is that Saint Joseph was the home of the Pony Express. The Pony Express National Museum finds its home in the actual building that housed the stables used to start the long journey of mail to Sacramento California. Displays show the hardships and risks that were taken on a daily basis by the courageous riders that risked their lives to ensure that mail was delivered.

The Remington Nature Center sits nestled along the shores of the Missouri River and offers a trail that skirts along the river and through some woodland areas. The first thing that greets a visitor is the life-size mammoth and baby mammoth right inside the door. There are displays showing the archaeological significance of artifacts found in the area and a rich and detailed history of the area from about 10,000BC to present. A 7,000 gallon aquarium will acquaint the visitor with some of the marine life of the region.

These are just a few offering that you will find in Saint Joseph, Missouri. One good characteristic about most destinations in the city is that they are appropriate for the whole family. You could spend an entire day learning about the history of the region in ways that even the youngest child will be interested in. So take a day or two and visit Saint Joseph.

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