Spring 2016

Some winter snow still lingers here in Glasgow as I write this column, but the lyrics of a great song by Miles Davis are ringing in my ears.

I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm,
I’m as jumpy as a puppet on a string,
I’d say that I had spring fever,
But it isn’t even spring.

If you are eager to get out of the house and do a little bit of travel, I have researched a few destinations for you to explore.

My friend John would enjoy visiting the Pythian Castle (Pythiancastle.com) which was built by the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization, in 1913. The castle, located near Springfield, was intended as a retirement home for widows and children of the organization’s members. In 1942, the U.S. Military commandeered the castle and used it for rehabilitation of wounded WWII veterans, during which time many big name entertainers performed there. German and Italian POWs were also housed on the grounds. In 1993, the property was sold and renovated and is now open for ghost tours, weddings, murder mystery dinners and historical tours. The web site shows some great photos of the building.

Another castle-like building is available for tours in Jefferson City. This one had many residents, but most were not as happy as those in the Pythian Castle. Tours of the Missouri State Penitentiary will begin for the new season in March. You can learn much about the penitentiary at MissouriPenTours.com. The former prison is 100 years older than Alcatraz. In the 1800s some people wanted to move the state capitol away from Jefferson City, but Gov. John Miller (no relation to me) suggested locating the state prison in Jefferson City as part of his plan to keep the Capitol located in Jefferson City. The prison opened in 1836.

The web page tells of some of the more famous residents of the prison including Sonny Liston, who learned to box in there. Forty prisoners were executed in the gas chamber at the prison and some of them and other former prisoners are said to haunt the place still. History tours and nighttime haunted tours are available.

Kearney, near Kansas City, is the home of the Jesse James Farm. Tours and a museum are on the grounds, and the website at JesseJames.org describes regular activities. The FAQ features the question: “Does the farm advocate theft, robbery, or criminal acts perpetrated by Frank and Jesse?” I love the answer: “The FOTJF only promotes the study of history, focusing on the tragic and colorful events of the Border War and it’s aftermath. This includes the post war activities of Frank and Jesse James. We leave moral and ethical judgements up to you.”

For a happy Saturday trip, why not visit the historic city of Glasgow (GlasgowMo.com) for the Glasgow Wine Walk on April 9? You will taste wines from as many as eight wineries including the city’s own Bushwhacker Bend (BushwhackerBend.com). You will take home a souvenir glass and get to see the oldest family-owned drug store in the United States, the site of the first all-steel railroad bridge in the world, and the oldest library (LewisLibrary.org) west of the Mississippi. Plus, I’ll be there selling the wine walk tickets! Tickets are $20 and admission to the Lions Club concert area is free.

I hope you have a great spring and are able to get out to enjoy what the state has to offer. Perhaps we will cross paths either on the internet or IRL. Until then, be safe and enjoy our beautiful Missouri.