Are you a history lover? St. Louis is the place for you.

Friday April 4, 2014

Old CourthouseAre you a history lover?  St. Louis is the place for you.

Are you a home-schooled student looking to learn about history first hand? St. Louis is the place for you.

Are you one of those people who find history a bit dull and boring? Believe it or not, St. Louis is the place for you, too, because history comes alive here and you find plenty of ways to learn about the past that are not only painless but fun too.

In St. Louis history — which is really “our story” — is all around you.

Start your own personal brush with history in St. Louis at the Gateway Arch where at the Museum of Westward Expansion, where the journals of Lewis and Clark bring their famous trek west to explore the Louisiana Territory President Thomas Jefferson purchased from France to life.

Visit the historic Old Courthouse where the case of Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom, became a factor leading to the Civil War, was heard. Also a woman named Virginia Minor sued in the same courthouse for the right to vote in 1872. At various times visitors can participate in reenactments of those nationally significant court cases.

For a look at the remains of a sophisticated prehistoric civilization in our own back yard, cross the Mississippi River to visit Cahokia Mounds National Historic Site in nearby Collinsville, Illinois.

Speaking of prehistoric history, take a little time to visit a fascinating state historic site in nearby Jefferson County–Mastodon State Historic Site.  Here lie extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits of fossils, including a number of bones of giant mastodons.

St. Louis is brimming with living links to more recent history. Here are just a few:

  • Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center in nearby St. Charles County, includes the last home of legendary Daniel Boone and gives visitors a glimpse into life as it was in Daniel’s days. Also on site are more than a dozen 19th century buildings, each moved to the site from within 50 miles. Visitors will find there s general store, school house, church and grist mill, all giving a peek into life on the frontier.
  • Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, a restored building built by a famous Oregon Trail guide and descendants of the founding family of St. Louis with personal touches that give the visitor a window into life during that time period. Also onsite: St. Louis’ largest permanent display of 1904 World’s Fair memorabilia.
  • Ste. Genevieve, Misssouri, located just an hour south of St. Louis. Here you can see one of the few remaining examples of 18th century French architecture in Missouri’s oldest European settlements.
  • The historic Samuel Cupples House, a stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture from the late 19th centurary, the house is located on the Saint Louis University campus. It features 42 rooms, 22 fireplaces and the Eleanor Turshin glass collection of Steuben, Frederick Carder and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
  • The historic village in Faust County Park includes Thornhill, the1820s estate of Missouri’s second governor, several other historic buildings and a restored 1920s Dentzel carousel. The village interprets the history of 1840s-1880s.
  • Fort Belle Fontaine, site of the first U.S. military installation west of the Mississippi River and a stopover point for expeditions heading west. On their return trip to St. Louis in 1806, Lewis & Clark spent a night at the fort. The fort is gone, its site covered by shifts in the Missouri River, but interpretive signs explain the site’s significance.
  • Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing where fugitive slaves used this site to escape to the free state of Illinois prior to the Civil War. It is named for the African-American St. Louis abolitionist, Mary Meachum. A historical marker on the Riverfront Trail notes that this is the first nationally designated Underground Railroad site in Missouri.
  • Jefferson Barracks Historic Park is the oldest U. S. Army post west of the Mississippi River. Many famous American military men including Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant served here. Also located here is the new Missouri Civil War Museum.

Guest Blogger Kathie Sutin a freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri contributed this blog.

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