One of Missouri’s most popular travel destinations is Branson. I love Branson, and I often find things there to recommend to my friends and family. Branson’s numerous Christmas season attractions can be found at www.ExploreBranson.com. More than 100 shows (I lost count) are listed on this page with links that provide detailed information. All of them are available during the Christmas season. Included is the Christmas lights driving tour through the Shepherd of the Hills site.
When I travel to Branson, I take Highway 65 south from Springfield. I’ve often noticed the billboard for the Smallin Civil War Cave. I pledged to never take another cave tour, but the website at www.SmallinCave.com has piqued my interest. Located near Ozark, the cave was discovered in 1818 and is the first documented cave in the Ozarks. Of course, local Native Americans used it long before 1818. Various types of tours are offered, including a Christmas tour, which includes an outdoor campfire where stories and hot cocoa are shared. A Civil War tour includes an outdoor campfire with a civil war meal of ham and beans, cornbread and fried ‘taters. Both tours include a lantern light nighttime tour of the cave. The Christmas tour features twinkling Christmas lights and some special Christmas displays. Special tours for school field trips and groups are available. The website features lots of slides and videos with information about the wildlife in the cave and history of the cave.
Augusta, located in the heart of Missouri’s wine country, offers a candlelight walking tour of the downtown area. The webpage at www.missouriwinecountry.com/events/event.php?eventID=52 describes the many features of the tour including viewing beautifully-decorated homes and business. The Montelle Winery (www.Montelle.com) will offer hot soup and fresh bread next to the fireplace at their location. Free Dixieland jazz concerts in the public square, along with a bonfire and food and drink will make this a festive holiday destination.
Historic St. Charles, the place where “Christmas past comes to life,” boasts a wonderfully-designed Christmas website at www.StCharlesChristmas.com. In addition to an abundance of holiday photos, the page includes links delving into the history of many Christmas traditions.
When I grew up on a Missouri farm, we always went out and cut our own Christmas tree. I remember my father and I taking my son to do the same thing when he was just a few years old. Today’s city dwellers who don’t have a farming grandpa may can still experience this holiday tradition at any of a number of Christmas tree farms across the state. Need help finding one? No problem. Just visit pickyourownchristmastree.org/MOxmastrees.php for links to Missouri Christmas tree farms, as well as hints on caring for your tree.
Wherever you are on Christmas, I hope you are able to spend it with friends and family and I hope you take a moment to reflect upon the real reason for the season. From Glasgow, I send you the warmest of Christmas wishes. Perhaps we’ll meet while looking for that perfect tree, touring a cave, singing carols on a candlelight tour or just passing anonymously while driving the interstate or the information superhighway. Have a very Merry Christmas, and be careful on the road.
To help you plan some “Missouri Family Travel Time” I’ve done a bit of research and listed a few places you may find interesting both IRL (In Real Life) and on the internet.
I have had a busy summer helping to plan for the 175th anniversary of the founding of the city of Glasgow. When this magazine reaches you, it may be too late to visit us in person for the activities (you are welcome anytime,) but you can still make a virtual visit to www.jymiller.net/zzglasgow175.html. I hope you can come in person to tour the local cemetery with me or to see me in the Glasgow History Play.
One of the many activities at the anniversary celebration will be a series of speakers on historical matters. One of them is Peter Gorton, who will speak on John Donaldson. John Donaldson, who was born in Glasgow, played baseball here in the early 1900s and is thought to be one of the greatest of the Negro League players. You can read more about him on Peter Gorton’s page at JohnDonaldson.bravehost.com/ .
Fall foliage driving tours are at the top of the list for many people planning activities in the fall. Help planning a trip is available at www.chiff.com/travel/missouri-foliage.htm. The site suggests driving tours, lots of photos, tips for taking your own photos and more. There is even a short movie that explains why leaves change color along with some great views of colorful foliage.
More on Missouri’s fall colors is available at mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/outdoor-recreation/nature-viewing/trees-and-forests/fall-colors .
Marty Koch, a St. Louis-based photographer and blogger posts travel notes and photos at MartysWorld.typepad.com/traveling_with_marty/. He is planning a fall float trip on the Current River. The site is loaded with beautiful scenic shots.
Those close to Kansas City will enjoy a visit to the Weston Red Barn Farm either IRL on at www.WestonRedBarnFarm.com/index.htm . The barn hosts tours, hayrides, pumpkin sales, a country store and farm market. School tours are also offered.
Near the center of the state, you can visit the beautiful campus of Central Methodist University in Fayette or visit online at www.CentralMethodist.edu/ . CMU is my alma mater. While on campus, you might visit the Ashby Hodge Gallery. If you do, say hello to the curator, Dr. Joseph Geist. The gallery will exhibit George Caleb Bingham works from mid-August through October, which you will be able to view either IRL or on the gallery’s web page at www.CentralMethodist.edu/ashbyhodge/visit.php. One of the portraits is of Matilda Donohoe Aull, the daughter of one of the founders of Glasgow and my wife’s great-great-great-aunt.
No matter where you travel this Fall, or how, I hope you enjoy our beautiful Missouri with your family. Fall is a great time to build those lasting memories and to enjoy our state and each other. Perhaps our paths will cross either IRL or on the web. Be sure to say hello if you see me.
You have all summer to plan for the Missouri State Fair, which is an unofficial end to the summer travel season. Attendance at the fair is a tradition and high point for many Missouri travelers. Updates on planned activities, including concert headliners, are available throughout the summer at www.MoStateFair.com/.
Don’t hit the road until you visit www.RoadTripRewards.com, a website partnership between the Missouri Division of Tourism and McDonald’s restaurants in Missouri. Receipts from the fast food chain are the keys that unlock the doors to hundreds of discounts at travel venues across Missouri.
The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is the focus of www.MoCivilWar150.com, which includes and abundance of information about Civil War activities around the state. Here in Glasgow, we are planning a Battle of Glasgow reenactment for next year. This summer we will mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of Glasgow.
In the St. Louis area, visit www.freedomsgateway.com to discover activities that commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
Even in the midst of local festivals and civil war reenactments, we still find time for some traditional Missouri travel opportunities. I love Branson, and while I am not a country music fan, I also love Patsy Cline. There are currently at least two Patsy Cline “Tribute Shows” playing in Branson. This page at www.PatsyInBranson.net/content/about/index.html includes information on one of the shows. It contains a very nice video of Tracy Lynn DeMille, the featured performer, who is shown singing a number of Patsy’s greatest hits. Miss DeMille is a descendent of Cecil B. DeMille of Hollywood fame. I have not seen her in person, but I have that on my list for sometime this summer.
A free attraction offering a time and place for quiet prayer is located near Eureka. The Black Madonna Shrine is a result of an almost single-handed effort by a Franciscan Monk, Brother Bronislaus Luszcz, who, in 1927, created a series of shrines near his monastery. Information and some photos are available at www.FranciscanCaring.org/blackmadonnashri.html. The page includes schedules of activities, history and some nice photos of the shrines. The grounds consist of more than 500 acres and contain a number of different grottos and shrines.
Here in Glasgow, I’m just a short drive away from my alma mater, Central Methodist University, located in Fayette. CMU offers numerous options for your entertainment. One of them is the Ashby-Hodge Gallery. The curator, Dr. Joseph E. Geist, always has special exhibitions, and I’m especially looking forward to an exhibition of the art of George C. Bingham, which will begin in August. You can visit the gallery online at www.CentralMethodist.edu/ashbyhodge/visit.php. Click on Online Tours to see some highlights of the collection narrated by Professor Tom Yancy. The first painting that he discusses is a work by Glasgow artist Cornelia Kummel.
This summer, I hope you are able to travel both IRL and online and that you enjoy our beautiful state. Perhaps our paths will cross as we travel.
by J.Y. MILLER
It was a cold and snowy winter for most of us in Missouri. The snow covered fields and the frost-decorated trees were beautiful, but I am looking forward to the green of spring with new growth of flowers and fresh clean spring mornings.
I’ve been thinking of Missouri places to visit when those warm days come. Did you know that one of Missouri’s nicknames is “The Cave State”? Our beautiful state has more caves than any other state, with more than 6,000 and others being discovered and explored all the time.
Caves are a perfect travel destination because they are nicely cool in the summer and warmer than the cold outdoors on winter days. It is always a good idea to look ahead before you travel, and our computers provide a perfect way to explore and plan.
A good place to begin is the Missouri Department of Natural Resources site at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wrc/springsandcaves.htm. There you can learn what a “karst” is and become familiar with the terms “sinkhole” and “losing stream.” Caves and water are closely related, of course, and this site has much information about Missouri’s many springs as well.
If you plan to explore wild or non-commercial caves, you should certainly not try to do it alone. Caving, which is formally called spelunking, can be dangerous. Many an adult or child has been lost in a cave, and while Tom Sawyer and Becky were lucky enough to get out, it’s not always the case in the real world. One story involves a small child who found his own way out after getting separated from his older siblings while exploring a cave that they were not supposed to enter. He found a previously unknown entrance in what the family thought of as a miracle. The DNR page lists a number of spelunking clubs that will provide training, guidance and companions to help you explore safely.
There are also links to several of Missouri’s springs, including Big Spring at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wrc/springsandcaves.htm#Big. It is aptly named since, on the average, it has an output of 276 million gallons of water per day.
An unusual cave experience can be found at www.thecaverestaurantandresort.com/index.htm. This is the Cave Restaurant and Resort located near Lebanon. The restaurant, located inside the cave, seats 225 people and serves a variety of food. You can read the menu on their page which also features a nice video tour of the restaurant. The restaurant offers “…more than just a meal, it is an underground experience”. The resort includes rustic cabins for overnight stays.
I have good memories of my visits to Graham Cave near Montgomery City. It is in Graham Cave State Park, which has camping, hiking trails and a small museum. When the trees drop their leaves, you can catch a glimpse of it from I-70. Graham Cave, itself, was the first archaeological site in the United States to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. It was a shelter for early Indians as far back as 10,000 years ago. Read more about it at www.mostateparks.com/grahamcave/geninfo.htm.
The Missouri Caves Association, found online at missouricaves.com, links to the web pages of Missouri’s most popular commercial caves. You can click on the cave name for photos, videos and information about each cave. I also registered to win 4 free tickets to any one of the caves.
I hope you have a great spring and that you get out to see our beautiful state both—above and below ground. Who knows, we may end up in the same tram at Fantastic Caverns or see each other enjoying a meal in an underground restaurant.
J.Y. Miller lives in Glasgow and is a regular contributor to Show-Me Missouri. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.