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Visiting the Capitol with a 4th grade class.

sunny 75 °F

(Sunday) It was about a 4 hr. drive from Topeka, KS to Jefferson City, MO. I had to backtrack east through Kansas City to Columbia, MO in mid-state then turn south to get to Jefferson City about 30 miles from Columbia. The road was over hills and valleys then, as I passed over the last hill was the lush valley with the Capitol City lying below. A beautiful site. Jefferson City is a small city of about 40K with the capitol dome prominent in its skyline. My destination for the stay was the Elks Lodge, located across from a country club on a hill overlooking the city. As always, the Elks bretheren were very welcoming. Once setting up I located a nearby Walmart to do some shopping. The day was tiring so I was in bed before 9:00 pm.

(Monday) As I mentioned, Jefferson City is an overgrown small town, easy to navigate. The imposing building is the 3rd State Capitol in Missouri. The other two were in St. Charles, and St. Louis and both burned down, a seemingly common occurance in those early days. This building is built of native Carthage limestone. The interior is finished with polished Carthage limestone which has the appearance of marble. Vermont marble is used as trim, also. The building has a very beautiful domed rotunda, with extensive stenciling used throughout. The corridors off the central plaza have arched ceilings, again stenciled. An unusual feature of this Capitol building is that two opposing corridors contain the State Museum. One corridor contains a permanent exhibit and explains the history and development of the State. The other corridor is used for temporary changing exhibits. This being the 100th Anniversary of WWI, the exhibit was devoted to the 'Great War to End All Wars'. It was Missouri-specific, explaining the human sacrifices on the battlefront, as-well-as those made on the homefront supporting the war. A large brass model of the Battleship Missouri was displayed. As you recall, "Big Mo" was at anchor in Toyko Bay and the site of Japan's Surrender ending WWII in 1945. At 897' long, with 16" guns able to fire projectiles accurately over 20 miles, she was used as recently as the Gulf War in the 1990's. I once toured the ship when she was in Bremerton, WA.
The small town feel comes through as people say, 'Glad to meet, ya', 'So glad you came to visit us'. I had the good fortune to participate in a docent-led tour of the Capitol with a 4th grade class. She explained to the children many things about the State's history, the building and its purpose. They were all well-behaved and accompanied by teachers and parent chaperones. Since everything was explained at a 4th grade level, I learned alot!
The State of Missouri entered Statehood in 1821 and was settled by 88,000 German immigrants before the Civil War all seeking freedom from oppression, poverty and despotic rule they experienced in Europe. With them they brought the trades skills learned in the rigorous apprenticeship system of the old world. These talents and their work ethic were applied to timbering, mining, agriculture, and commerce of great benefit to the young state of Missouri.
On the main floor are 36 bronze busts on plinths showcasing prominent Missourians. Among them are; former President Harry Truman, General John Pershing (WWI), General Omar Bradley (WWII), J.C. Penney (retailer), David Atchison (railroads), Dale Carnegie (educator), Edwin Hubble (astronomer), Betty Grable (actress), Ginger Rogers (actress, dancer), Sacajawea (Indian interpreter for Lewis & Clark), Joyce C. Hall (Hallmark Greeting Cards), James S. McDonnell (McDonnell-Douglas aircraft), Walter Cronkite (journalist), Walt Disney (illustrator), Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain" (author), Laura Engalls Wilder (author), among others. Pretty impressive! This being my 34 Capitol visit I found it to be worthwhile and educational.
From there I proceeded to a luncheon spot called, "Prison Brews" just up the street from the former notorious Missouri State Penitentiary. The 'Big House' was called the Bloodiest 47 Acres in America. It operated between 1836 to its closing in 2004 and was the oldest continually operating prison west of the Mississippi. Tours inside are given only on Saturdays. The Prison Museum I visited displayed a typical jail cell, and the actual gas chamber where 40 inmates were executed. It showed photos and accounts of escape attempts, and infamous inmates. The facility held 5,100 felons in a building designed to hold one-half that number. Three men lived in a cell 12' X 8' in size. Strict discipline was used to control the inmate population. Sweat shops were established to provide income for the State to overcome operating expenses. Among those criminals were the notorious; Stagger Lee, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Sonny Liston (boxer), James Earl Ray (assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.), and others. Definitely a place not to seek housing! All pretty interesting, however.
Tomorrow its on to St. Charles, MO outside of St. Louis for several days of exploring.

Posted by dixter 07:38 Archived in USA Tagged capitol missouri

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