As you travel Missouri, you find the state has ties to many well-known figures of historical importance, including author Mark Twain and President Harry S Truman.
The Show-Me State also offers great lessons on the lives of prominent scientist George Washington Carver, author Laura Ingalls Wilder, outlaw Jesse James and animation pioneer Walt Disney.
Twain, who was born Samuel Clemens, is perhaps Missouri’s most famous son. Born in the city of Florida, Twain grew up in Hannibal and used the Mississippi River city as the basis for many of his famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Today, Twain’s presence looms large over Hannibal, where the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is just one of many attractions where the author’s legacy lives. You’ll find a statue of Twain in the city’s Riverview Park and see him depicted as a young riverboat captain at Glascock’s Landing on the riverfront. And you can go underground to Mark Twain Cave, which was detailed in five of his books.
While Twain is widely credited as the Show Me State’s most-famous writer, he’s not the only one who had a way with words. President Harry S Truman – the only Missourian ever elected president – popularized a variety of expressions: He was known to reference “Monday morning quarterbacks” and often is credited for the phrase “The buck stops here.”
Creativecommons.org/ Matt Turner
For more on Truman, visit the Truman Birthplace State Historic Site, which is in Lamar, and the Harry S Truman Library and Museum and the Truman National Historic Site (Truman Home), both of which are in Independence. Additionally, people who visit Independence have the opportunity to walk in Truman’s footsteps by taking a stroll on the Harry S Truman Walking Trail, a 2.7-mile path that features some of the sites Truman – an avid walker – saw on his regular jaunts.
Creativecommons.org/ Bryce Edwards
If you like following in famous footsteps, perhaps a trek north of Independence, to Kearney, is in order. That’s where you’ll find the Jesse James Farm and Museum, which features a large collection of James family artifacts and includes Jesse’s original grave site.
More on James can be found even farther north in St Joseph, where attractions include the Jesse James Home (where James was shot and killed on April 3, 1882) and the Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Home, where the wicker basket used to transport his remains is displayed.
When looking for famous folks with Missouri roots, don’t overlook Carver, whose interest in agriculture began budding while he lived on a farm in southwest Missouri.
Today, the George Washington Carver National Monument, fills the property Moses and Susan Carver owned just outside of Diamond and pays tribute to one of this country’s greatest scientists.
Spanning 240 acres – the entirety of which is actually considered the monument to Carver – the site contains the mile-long Carver Trail, the Carver Family Cemetery and the 1881 Carver House. The Carver National Monument also has a visitor centre and museum.
Creativecommons.org/ Sheila Scarborough
Also in southwest Missouri, the city of Mansfield pays tribute to another famous author who called Missouri home – one whose books focused on early 19th century life in the Midwest. At the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum, learn more about the author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie books and her most-famous works.
There are two homes to tour: the farmhouse, which Laura and her husband, Almanzo, built upon moving to Missouri in 1894; and the Rock House, which their daughter Rose had built for them in 1928.
The museum contains artifacts, including handwritten manuscripts of some Little House books, keepsakes of the Ingalls and Wilder families, and many other items familiar to readers.
In northwest Missouri, travel to Marceline, where popular culture and history meet. Marceline was the childhood home of Walt Disney, who created iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse, and brought animation to the big screen with classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella.
Disney spent part of his youth in the railroad town of Marceline, which retains its ties to the animation pioneer through the Walt Disney Dreaming Tree and Barn, located on the old family farm, and the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. You also find an elementary school and post office that bear Disney’s name.