Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Our fall trip this year takes us trailin' a bit on the Santa Fe Trail from Marshall, Missouri to Franklin, before heading to St. Louis and traveling Route 66 to Chicago. From there, we'll head back west and travel back down the Mississippi River a ways through Iowa.

Bothwell Lodge north of Sedalia, Missouri
Our first day, in typical Legends fashion, we make it only 75 miles. This could be a long journey. Our first stop -- just north of Sedalia, Missouri is the Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site. Sitting atop a 120-foot bluff, this castle-like home was constructed between 1897 and 1928 for a prominent Sedalia lawyer, John Homer Bothwell. Bothwell was active in local politics, represented Pettis County for eight years in the Missouri General Assembly, and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1904. His influence helped to make Sedalia the permanent home for the Missouri State Fair. Built on top three natural caves using native stone, the 12,000 square foot, multi-level lodge has 31 rooms that can be toured today.

Blackwater, Missouri
Next, we're off to the tiny quaint little town of Blackwater, Missouri. Located just three miles north of I-70, exit 89 in Missouri. Alas, I have to say that until very recently I had not heard of Blackwater when I received a phone call from Gerald Cunningham. Originally from Marshall, Missouri, Gerald and his wife, Connie, established the Bucksnort Trading Company in Blackwater four years ago. Then, after he bought my book, Great American Bars and Saloons, he got a hankerin' to establish an old-fashioned saloon right there in Blackwater. 

Bucksnort Saloon, Blackwater, Missouri
Starting on it in early 2010, the Bucksnort Saloon is now open for business. A family friendly saloon, visitors can hear  Robert Ault, one of the best ragtime piano players in the country, delight you with tunes; play Faro, or belly up to the bar for a cream soda or sassparilla on weekends. We had a great time visiting with Gerald and Connie Cunningham, meeting Bob Ault, the piano playing wonder, and visiting with Blackwater's city clerk, painter of the murals in town, and local historian -- Bonnie Rapp. You'll be hearing alot more about this place on our Saloon Museums page soon. 
Dave Alexander; Bonnie Rapp, Gerald Cunningham

Blackwater is a friendly little town with less than 200 souls that has done a very good job of restoring its historic buildings and promoting the village as a travel destination. Numerous historic buildings have been restored including the depot, the Iron Horse Hotel, where you can still get a room and a meal; the old caboose, the telephone building, which now serves as a museum, and many others. Founded in 1887 as a coal and water stop for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, Blackwater has lots of history to share. Be sure to get off the interstate to take the short winding and scenic roads to the historic town which is lined with antique and specialty shops. After a great burger at the Back Roads Grill in Blackwater, we're off again to Arrow Rock, Missouri.

Arrow Rock, Missouri
Situated on a high bluff over the Missouri River, this site has long been a significant landmark for Native Americans, explorers, and early westward travelers. Arrow Rock first appeared on a French map as “pierre a fleche,” literally translated as “rock of arrows” in 1732. In the 1820s, the earliest travelers on what became the Santa Fe Trail crossed the river on the Arrow Rock ferry and filled their water barrels with fresh water at “the Big Spring” before heading west. In 1829, the town of Arrow Rock was founded, which soon boasted a number of prominent people including  Dr. John Sappington of quinine fame; George Caleb Bingham, Missouri's preeminent artist of the mid-1800s; and three future 19th Century Missouri governors. 

By the time the Civil War began, Arrow Rock boasted 1,000 people. Afterwards, the town began a decline as steamboats and river commerce gave way to railroads that bypassed the town. In 1963, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark because of its association with the Westward Expansion. Called home to about 75 people today, the village boasts several signficant historic properties including the J.P. Sites Gun Shop, dating back to 1830; the 1834 Huston Tavern, the old courthouse, a town doctor's home, a stone jail and numerous other historic buildings. 

Boonville, Missouri
Then we're off to Boonville, Missouri, our last stop of the day. Another historic city on the Missouri River, Boonville got its start in the early 1800's when Daniel Boone's sons, Nathan and Daniel Morgan, came upon a salt lick in present day Howard County, just across the river. Recognizing the value of salt for pioneers, the Boone brothers settled and opened shop, thus the original Boone’s Lick or Boonslick name. The town was formally platted in 1817 and prospered in the late 1820’s. Throughout the 1820’s and 30’s, it was home to river trade and anoter jumping-off point for the Santa Fe Trail. The development of the railroad and the start of the Civil War dramatically changed Boonville. Because of its prime location on the river, Boonville was sought after by both the Confederates and the Union armies. Boonville saw two Civil War battles. Tday, it is called home to over 8,000 people and features more than 400 historic properties on the National Register.
Tomorrow, we head east again. Stay tuned for our daily travels and full articles when we return home..

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