By State Sen. David Pearce
In summer,, there are many reasons to explore the natural wonders that surround us. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the maintenance of both Missouri’s state park system and our historic sites. The 21st District is certainly no stranger to these areas of the Show-Me State’s glorious scenery.
Howard County is home to Booneslick State Park and Boone’s Lick Historic Site. Named for Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, sons of Daniel Boone, these enterprising men utilized one of Missouri’s natural resources to make their money. Producing salt was a process then, boiling water to evaporate it and leave the salt residue behind for collection. Then shipping the commodity upriver for sale was a job itself. The historic site inside the state park still contains remnants of the process of producing salt in our state more than 200 years ago.
Much like the Boone’s Lick site, Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and State Park in Ray County offers a glimpse into what life used to be prior to many businesses becoming automated. The Watkins family owned and operated this picturesque 19th Century textile mill, built in 1870.
Knob Noster State Park, named for its hills and views, is located in Johnson County. Not only does this park contain plenty of room for fishing, bird watching, and camping, many people visit for the chance to watch B-2 Spirit stealth bombers take off or land from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base.
Lafayette County contains two important sites in Missouri’s history, including the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site and the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site. The Civil War in Missouri was often a true battle of brother against brother, with members of many families on opposite sides of the battles. Even though many buildings escaped major damage, battle wounds are still visible and lend viability to what many people today think of as merely old stories.
Saline County is home to both Arrow Rock and the Sappington Cemetery state historic sites. Arrow Rock is still a quaint town where time seems to have been left to its own devices, including the beautiful Lyceum Theater, a town and a place that still hosts plays and musicals throughout the year. Missouri’s history can be found in the Sappington Cemetery, including two past governors of our state.
One of the most famous trails in our state is the Katy Trail. It is the longest rail-trail project in the United States., with almost 238 developed miles of trail stretching across the state. Following the path of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad along the Missouri River Corridor, this maintained path crosses through the 21st District in Howard County, near New Franklin, with a trail head at mile marker 188.2. Plans are still in place to expand the Katy Trail from downtown St. Louis to the suburbs of Kansas City.
In April, Missouri was named “Best Trails State” in the nation by the organization American Trails. In the 230 trails throughout the state, there are approximately 1,000 miles of managed access to walk, bike or hike. miles of activity on Missouri’s trail system.
For more information Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit www.mostateparks.com.