True Western Towns
Touring our #7 town of the year, from the Walk of Fame to U.S. Grant’s log cabin.
- Written by Joe Johnston
- Published April 16, 2012
1. See who’s who at the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Among the bronze stars and biographies you’ll find Western cinema favorites Buddy Ebsen and Robert Duvall, fur trader Auguste Choteau, artist Charles Russell and explorer William Clark.
2. The heart of Forest Park is the Missouri History Museum. Check out the re-creation of William Clark’s office when he was Indian agent for the whole Louisiana Territory. In the gift shop, you can pick up authentic 1700s trade bead jewelry or a Lewis & Clark necktie.
3. A stroll across the park takes you to the Saint Louis Art Museum, with works by Frederic Remington and Georgia O’Keeffe. Enjoy Bierstadt’s landscapes, Bingham’s boatmen and Thomas Hart Benton’s lyrical pioneers.
4. Don’t miss the Campbell House Museum, built in 1851. It was the home of Robert Campbell, who went west with Jedediah Smith to trade for furs, participated in the first mountain man rendezvous and became a millionaire entrepreneur.
5. A few blocks east is Laclede’s Landing, where the city began as a trading post. The massive arches of Eads Bridge overlook Captains Return, a statue portraying Lewis & Clark’s homecoming. Among the 19th-century buildings is Morgan Street Brewery, where you can try the Brewski (a five-beer sampler). Or go to Sundeckers for toasted ravioli, a St. Louis tradition.
6. In the shadow of the iconic Gateway Arch, you’ll find the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Museum of Westward Expansion, with its fabulous exhibits. Don’t miss the big-screen movie about Lewis and Clark.
7. The tour wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Mississippi River itself on the paddle wheelers Tom Sawyer or Becky Thatcher. Get on board at Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises.
8. Just downriver is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where its American lager was introduced in 1876. Take the tour, see the Clydesdales and watch beer still being made in the Old Brew House.
9. On the banks of the Mississippi you’ll find Jefferson Barracks, a U.S. Army post since 1826. The park’s historic buildings now house museums; the beautiful National Cemetery, fifth largest of its kind in the nation, is the resting place of eight Medal of Honor recipients.
10. Our last stop is Grant’s Farm, a lively family attraction, featuring bison, antelope and other animal exhibits. Grab a bratwurst at the German farmstead, and explore the log cabin built by a young Ulysses S. Grant in 1855.
Joe Johnston is a writer, artist and author of The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery: Vigilantism or Justice? published by Missouri History Museum Press.
Baseball’s Gateway to the West
The first baseball game played west of the Mississippi happened at Lafayette Park in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 9, 1860, between the Cyclones and the Morning Stars, according to the National Association of Base-Ball Players.
Today, Lafayette Park still offers vintage baseball clubs that follow the 1864 nine-player rules. The park is the home base for both the Cyclones and the Perfectos. There, you’ll see the teams also play the Brown Stockings of Emmenegger Park and the St. Louis Unions of Jefferson Barracks Park.
The Unions and Cyclones both played in St. Louis as early as 1860, while the Brown Stockings got their start in 1875 and the Perfectos, in 1899. Actually, those Browns players you see here—pitcher Silver King and first baseman Charles Comiskey—left before owner Chris von der Ahe’s ballpark burned down during an April 1898 game with Chicago. He lost the team to the Robison brothers, who changed the name to the Perfectos and switched the team’s color from brown to red. In 1900, the players got a new moniker: Cardinals.
From its first match in 1860 to its 11th World Series win in 2011 to the vintage base ball clubs playing to this day, St. Louis is truly baseball’s “Gateway to the West.”