Friday, July 10, 2015

St. Joseph, Part Two

As I wrote in the previous posting, the docent who gave us a tour of the Robidoux apartments was eager to share with us her knowledge of St. Joseph.  We learned a lot regarding the town from her.  It was once the home of Quaker Oats, the cracker factory of Saltines (in the museum are chandeliers from the founder of that company, Frank L. Sommer).  And do you remember Big Chief writing tablets?  They were made here.
Another informative museum pertaining to the history of St.Joseph is the Remington Nature Center, where "history and nature collide".  Here we learned more of the history of the town going back to the first Native Americans, as well as the fauna of the area.  Outside of the center is river walk alongside the Mighty Mo.
We also roamed the streets of St.Joesph in our car, looking for the various sights of the town as referred to in our tour book.  There is an actual Lovers Lane, immortalized by Eugene Field.  He courted his girl here and composed a poem in honor of what was then a country lane.
The words of the poem are: " a proper horse goes slow in those leafy aisles where Cupid smiles on Lovers Lane, St.Joseph".  Another interesting sight in the town is a mural which covers 6 buildings.  It is of a family starting their westward journey with their covered wagon.  In the foreground of the mural is a statue titled "Celebration", it is part of the downtown sculpture walk.
We also drove over to Fort Smith, which sits on a Telegraph Hill overlooking St.Joseph.
During the Civil War the Union had control of St.Joseph.  It was a vital hub for rail and waterways both to the west and north, and an important key to the Union's success during the war.  From this vantage point the army could see a good distance up the Missouri River as well as watch St.Joseph, a town which was evenly split between supporters of the Confederacy and the Union.
An important place for political rallies during the Civil War, as well as the headquarters for the Civil War Union Provost Marshal's office is the Patee Hotel, which opened in 1858.  It was also the headquarters for the Pony Express which operated from 1860 to 1861.  Mail was delivered between St.Joseph and Sacramento by a total of 80 riders.  It was replaced in 1862 by a railway postal car.
That was our day in St.Joseph, a very full one and we still had not seen everything!

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