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Past and present converge on Missouri River


The Pony Express began, and outlaw Jesse James ended in St. Joseph, located in northwest Missouri.

The way it was

Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri

Photo: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau Pony Express Museum, St. Joseph, Mo.

Johnny Fry galloped west from the Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph on April 3, 1860. The Pony Express was underway.

The stable building is now part of the Pony Express Museum. Executive director Cindy Daffron said the museum tells the story of the famed mail service, which was in operation for only 18 months.

History also happened at Patee House Museum & Jesse James Home. Built in 1858 as a luxury hotel, the Patee House served as Pony Express headquarters. Stroll down Main Street, climb aboard an authentic 1860 steam locomotive and take a spin on an operating carousel. Visit the small house where Bob Ford shot and killed James in 1882. 

Jesse James Home in St. Joseph, Missouri

Photo: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau Jesse James Home, St. Joseph, Mo.

Glore Psychiatric Museum, on the grounds of the former state lunatic asylum, chronicles the 130-year history of the state hospital in St. Joseph and centuries of mental health treatment.

Walter Cronkite, the CBS News anchor, was born in St. Joseph. The Walter Cronkite Memorial at Missouri Western State University presents the life and times of the TV newsman, who died in 2009.

In addition to kiosks, photos and memorabilia, there’s a re-creation of the newsroom from which Cronkite broadcast the CBS Evening News in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Group members can sit in Cronkite’s spot, say “that’s the way it is” and have a picture taken. Admission is free.

History and nature collide at Remington Nature Center. A replica of a woolly mammoth greets visitors, and a 7,000-gallon aquarium teems with Missouri fish.

Art and architecture

St. Joseph, Missouri

Photo: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau St. Joseph, Mo.

St. Joseph’s Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art houses one of the finest collections of American art in the Midwest. Part of the museum is the 1935 home of William Albrecht, founder of the Western Tablet Company, which manufactured the Big Chief writing tablet.

“We need something to bring people together, and I think art can do it,” said Brett Knappe, executive director of the art museum.

Shakespeare Chateau Inn and Gardens is a luxury bed-and-breakfast. When built in 1885 at the height of the Gilded Age, it was a lavish home for prosperous Nathan Ogden and his wife.

“They could have the best of everything and they certainly did,” said co-owner Isobel McGowan. Tours highlight 47 original artisan-crafted, stained-glass windows and elaborate carved woodwork.

Riverfront in St. Joseph, Missouri

Photo: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau St. Joseph, Mo.

Shakespeare Chateau is one of several mansions in the Hall Street Historic District, known as Millionaires’ Row. Groups can arrange tours of some of the mansions.

Another architectural masterpiece is the J.C. Wyatt House, built in 1891 as the home of one of St. Joseph’s retail pioneers. The restored Victorian is now a reservation-only restaurant that can handle groups. Chef Jeff Keyasko prepares gourmet meals, and Jim Pallone is the host.

Downtown, stop for a book and a beverage at The Tiger’s Den Bookstore & Bar. Owner Brian Meyer sells used books, craft beers, fine wines and classic cocktails. He loves the area’s historic buildings, indie vibe and public art.

Tobiason Studio, run by Terri and Rick Rader, designs and builds contemporary and traditional art glass windows, as well as restorations of church windows.

For the motorcoach market, the Raders have developed a make-and-take craft. Group travelers assemble their own glass angel or bird at the studio.

St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau


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