This week my dedicated staff has been working hard to move our office. I wanted to take this opportunity to invite each of you to the Capitol for a tour and encourage you to stop by my office in room 320 and say hello. I know it is quite a drive from the 33rd District to Jefferson City, but it is well worth it when you consider all this river town has to offer.
Jefferson City is more than just the Capital of this great state. While it is the seat of our state government, it is also steeped in rich history. There is so much to do and even more to learn.
Atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, a bronze statue adorns the Missouri State Capitol’s 238 foot-high dome, visible from the river and farm fields surrounding the city. The same bluff was one of the first sites passed by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. Tours at the Capitol are year-round with varying start times; however, only 60 people may join a tour at a time. Self-guided tour maps are available at the Capitol Tour Reservation Desk located on the first floor, which is also home to the Missouri History Museum. While my office is not able to host tours this time of year, I encourage you to stop by and say hello to Doris and Joan. They are in weekdays during the interim.
Less than half a block from the Capitol sits Missouri’s beautiful and historic Governor’s Mansion. The Governor’s Mansion was completed in late December 1871. The mansion was built in only eight months, with much of the work performed by prisoners of the nearby penitentiary. The first family still lives in the building, so the entire home is not open to the public. Even if you have taken the tour before, there is sure to be a new bit of history or item on display. Tours are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except on major holidays and special events. There are no tours during August and December. Visit www.mostateparks.com, to schedule a tour.
In the short walk between the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, you will see the Lewis and Clark Trailhead Plaza, along with the Mel Carnahan Memorial Gardens, formerly known as the Governor’s Garden. Jefferson Landing sits just below the Lewis and Clark monument along the railroad tracks. The site features the historic Lohman Building, built in 1839, and the Union Hotel, built in 1855. Visitors may see exhibits in both buildings.
The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) opened in 1836 along the banks of the Missouri River. The prison was already 100 years old when Alcatraz began taking inmates. The Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau offers a wide variety of tours at the site, once named the “bloodiest 47 acres in America” by Time magazine. Visitors can choose to take a tour that guides you through several historic housing units, the vast upper yard of the property and the gas chamber, where 40 men and women were executed. The tour also showcases cells of infamous inmates such as Sonny Liston, who learned to box during his time in the prison, and James Earl Ray, who escaped from MSP before assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr. The prison housed inmates for 168 years and was the oldest continually operating prison west of the Mississippi River, until it was decommissioned in 2004. There is a fee for this tour and reservations are required. Visit Missouripentours.com to schedule a tour.
The Museum of Military History hosts exhibits that date from the founding of the Missouri Militia in 1808 to today’s modern Guard. Items cover the Missouri National Guard, its involvement in the Civil War, World Wars I and II and other conflicts, plus humanitarian relief efforts. War memorabilia and artifacts are on display and are sure to pique the interest of people of all generations. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is located at the Missouri National Guard’s Ike Skelton Training Center, east of Jefferson City.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol Safety Education Center includes displays concerning traffic safety, the work of the Crime Laboratory Division, the dangers of drunk driving, law enforcement techniques, illegal drugs, famous criminals and antique handcuffs. There are also five old patrol cars, including a Model A Ford Roadster from 1931 and two Chevrolets, dating from 1942 and 1953. Younger children really enjoy the hands-on aspect of this museum, which is located at 1510 East Elm Street. Call (573) 751-3313 to schedule a tour.
There is much to see, do and learn in Jefferson City. The variety of activities and history that can be found around every corner is one of the reasons I enjoy my time in the State Capitol.
As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.