Explore Historic Union Station / St. Louis, MO

The city of St. Louis, a part of the county of St. Louis, lies on the west bank of the Mississippi River just below its confluence with the Missouri. During westward expansion, St. Louis played a major role with transportation, communication and trade.

union hotel st louis
Union Hotel

The Early Years

When President Jefferson sent explorers Lewis & Clark from the St. Louis area to chart the new Louisiana Territory in 1804, more than 1,000 French,Spanish, Indian and free and slave blacks lived in the city, which had already gained the reputation as the center of the fur trade in America.
Two years later, after the successful explorers returned from the Pacific Ocean with their Corps of Discovery, St. Louis was the last stop westward for mountain men and trappers wanting to conduct their trade in the newly opened frontier.
The first steamboat arrived in St. Louis in 1817,signifying a new era of trade and travel along the Mississippi River. It wasn’t long before people would notice more than
100 steamboats lining the city’s cobblestone levee during the day. This was the Mississippi River Mark Twain traveled on as a riverboat pilot and later as an author.

old union railroad station st louis

St. Louis…A Major Railroad Crossroad

On September 1, 1894, the famous Union Station opened its doors in St. Louis. After a long building process with designs by Theodore Link, the station’s interior featured the Headhouse, a space originally used for the building’s first hotel with a dining space, The Midway, and a very large and long Train Shed. Built with limestone construction and 22 railroad tracks, Union Station quickly became the most monumental of its kind. It was estimated that 10,000 passengers per day stepped through Union Station’s doors to get to their arrival by the 1940s and an expansion was needed.Though demand for railroad travel was at its peak after the expansion, it unfortunately started to decline as the years progressed and air travel became a key component in traveler’s plans. By 1978 Union Station was essentially obsolete when Amtrak’s trains departed the station for the final time.

HOK global architecture and design firm, saw great opportunity in the station’s vast structure. With a $150 million renovation in August of 1985, the former railroad hub was made into a hotel with some 539 rooms, a shopping center, and several dining outlets. It wasn’t long before the splendor of the original Union Station was restored as it became a very busy center for travelers and native visitors alike.

The Whispering Arch

According to legend, the Whispering Arch was discovered during the building’s construction in 1890. One builder dropped a hammer, and another heard it—nearly 40 feet away. The phenomenon is like that in the whispering gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London: Without attempting to, a vault had been constructed in such a manner that sound waves cling to and actually travel around its curve, heard at either end of a concave surface. Since the discovery the arch has been witness to marriage proposals and countless other secretive declarations.

historic hotels st louis
The massive Great Hall at the Union Hotel

The Whispering Arch is easy to find. It’s surrounded by beautiful, restored green and gold detailing and frames a stained Tiffany glass window featuring three robed women figures.

The women, clad in yellow, red, and green, also date from the station’s earliest days, and represent the largest and busiest train stations of the 1890s. At its peak, 22 railroads connected through St. Louis making Union Station the busiest railroad station in the United States.

See this additional Carthage, Missouri Trips Into History article found on the link below….

Historic Carthage Missouri

Today’s St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Visitors to St. Louis can stay at the historic St. Louis Union Station Hotel, a AAA-approved Four Diamond hotel known for its refined and stylish upscale attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.

union station st louis light show
Light Show in the Great Hall

With 65-foot ceilings and archways that reach to the sky, the Grand Hall houses the lobby lounge bar with a unique, dazzling 3D projected light show.

Among the frescoes, gold leaf detailing, and mosaics visitors will be awed by the Allegorical Window, a handmade stained glass window with hand-cut Tiffany glass features three women representing the main U.S. train stations during the 1890s — New York, St. Louis and San Francisco.

St. Louis Union Station Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels across America.

(Photos copyright Trips Into History)

Visit Historic Carthage, Missouri on Old Route 66

Carthage, Missouri was established in 1842 and served as the county seat of Jasper County. The state of Missouri was located between the secessionist southern states and the abolitionist northern states. As a result, several civil war battles occurred in and around Carthage along with very violent attacks from southern guerrillas. The first battle at Carthage occurred on July 5, 1861 and again in October 1863. Carthage was also burned by Confederate guerrillas in September 1864. Carthage, Missouri was reconstructed during the Victorian era.

carthage mo courthouse
Jasper County Courthouse, Carthage Missouri

Carthage from the Civil War and Beyond

As mentioned above the state of Missouri was at a real crossroads at the start of the American Civil War and Carthage, Missouri was one of the flashpoints. Missouri’s loyalties were divided at the outset of the Civil War and the war tore the state apart.

After the civil war, Carthage was a prosperous rail town,as well as a supplier of  “Carthage Marble” and a busy highway crossroads when U.S. Highways 66 and 71 came to town in 1926. The new Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California was a economic boost to many towns along it’s path. One of the first concrete-paved portions of Missouri’s highway system was the stretch of road west of Carthage to Joplin, laid in 1920. In 1926, this route became part of Route 66.

Jasper County Courthouse

Carthage enjoys a rich history which is reflected in the many structures found throughout the city.

The current Jasper County Courthouse, built of Carthage stone in 1894, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This Romanesque Revival building is constructed of Carthage stone and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its turrets, towers and arches evoke the feel of a medieval castle looming over the city below.

The building is great to look at from the outside but even more fascinating when you enter. On the ground floor in the main hallway are cases filled with historic artifacts. There is a case that shows you the mining history, artifacts from Route 66, an old phone booth, and even a mine from the Spanish American War. One of the most interesting features was the mural of the history of Carthage complete with narration.

carthage courthouse square
Carthage Courthouse Square

Carthage Courthouse Square

Carthage Courthouse Square Historic District is, as the name implies, a grouping of shops and stores, most of them with relatively unspoiled nineteenth-century facades, set in traditional Southern fashion around a courthouse.

Carthage Courthouse Square Historic District is significant in American architecture for several reasons. First, it superlatively illustrates the two major phases of post-Civil War commercial architecture — brick Italianate and Romanesque Revival. In addition, the Carthage Courthouse Square Historic District and its side streets contain unusual and beautiful examples of cast-iron ornamentation.

Carthage Civil War Museum

A museum filled with information and artifacts covering the Civil War Battle of Carthage and the Civil War in southwest Missouri. The museum covers the history of the Battle of Carthage, the first full-scale land battle of the Civil War. The museum displays offer an excellent explanation of the several battles and the effects of the War on the area of southwest Missouri .There is also a display on the outlaw Belle Starr, who grew up in Carthage during the Civil War. The museum is located at 205 S. Grant St.

Boots Court-Motel

Another historic structure going back to the days of old Route 66 is the Boots Court-Motel. The Boots Court – Motel was built in 1939 by Arthur Boots, and still carries his name today.

carthage boots motel
Boots Motel

Americans took to the road in unprecedented numbers with the lifting of World War Two rationing and travel restrictions during the Mother Road’s golden age that began in 1945.

The “Motel” was saved from demolition by two sisters who are presently restoring the property to the way it was in 1949, and with the five rooms in the detached annex being completed and opened-for-business in 2012.

Battle of Carthage State Historic Site

This historic site is the location of the final confrontation of the Battle of Carthage, a day-long running skirmish that began on July 5, 1861, about 9 miles northeast of Carthage. Battle of Carthage State Historic Site preserves a small area associated with the battle, as skirmishes were spread over 10 miles. The Battle of Carthage involved the Missouri State Guard, a pro-Southern force, against Union volunteer regiments.

carthage civil war battlefieldThe Battle of Carthage was the earliest full-scale battle of the Civil War, preceding Bull Run by 11 days. Battle of Carthage State Historic Site contains a quiet meadow and the spring that made the area an encampment for both the Union and Confederate troops during the battle.

The area is little changed in its appearance since the battle was fought on July 5, 1861. A few minutes off of Interstate 44, the site interprets the battle that set the stage for a decisive showdown a month later at Wilson’s Creek.

You may enjoy our additional articles found on the links below…

Kansas Route 66 Attractions

Texas Old Courthouse Tour

Carthage, Missouri features more than 600 buildings listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. These are buildings and structures that at one time housed a wide variety of individuals including Civil War guerrillas, wild west outlaws, business titans, Ragtime musicians and women’s rights pioneers.

Carthage is located just six miles north of Interstate-44 in southwestern Missouri and very close to the Kansas border. The city offers great historic tourist sites that highlight it’s early years including the devastation and battles of the Civil War and the days that Route 66 brought travelers through by the thousands.

It’s a must stop when your travels take you through southwest Missouri and well worth the time.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

Things to See and Do in Historic Monterey California

Everything about Monterey, California has to do with scenery, historic sites and the relaxation of visiting a seaside town. Located about a 2 hour drive south of the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey is just the place to visit for those wishing to escape the big city hustle and bustle.

Monterey as a Spanish and Mexican Port and Capital

monterey ca historic sites
Historic Custom House

Monterey was the most important settlement and was the seat of government when the Spaniards ruled what is now California. Monterey was also the capital when the Mexicans ousted the Spaniards during the early 1820’s.

The city is located about a two hour drive south of San Francisco and a one hour and fifteen minute drive south of San Jose. Monterey can be either a day trip for those visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area or a fun overnight or weekend visit.

The Historic Custom House Plaza is located between the Portola Plaza Hotel and Fisherman’s Wharf

The Custom House in Monterey California is known as the oldest government building in California. This structure was built by the Spaniards who chose the Monterey as their capital of what was named Alta California. The Custom House was in existence by 1827 but deteriorated and was replaced by a larger structure in 1841. Monterey was at one time the only port of entry in what was then called Alta California.  
The Monterey Custom House  also has great historical significance by the fact that the United States flag was raised over it by Commodore John Drake Sloat on July 7,1846 thus claiming the territory of Alta California for the U.S. as a result of the Mexican-American War.

Whale Watching Off Monterey California

california whale watching trips
Whale watching excursions

The area in and around Monterey, California offers spots along the shoreline where whales can be observed. The following explains why the Monterey region is so popular for whale watching…

The Pacific Ocean off Monterey California and Monterey Bay is a natural marine habitat. In fact, the water is so deep just off the coast at this location that the area is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific Ocean. The depth reaches close to 5,800 feet. These submarine canyons, and there are several within this larger one, extend from shallow waters of the continental shelf to the deep sea and contain a very wide range of habitats and because of this an incredible diversity of organisms.Among these are the Pacific gray whale.

There are also opportunities to go out in the Pacific Ocean for whale watching expeditions off Monterey. There are several excellent whale watching cruise tours offered from Monterey harbor and they are worth taking.

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Enjoy Historic Mission San Juan Bautista

The Historic Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Cannery Row

cannery row monterey
Cannery Row

Cannery Row in Monterey takes you back to the days when Monterey’s main industry was seafood fishing and canning. The Chinese actually began fishing the waters of Monterey Bay during the 1850’s soon after California became a state.

At first the catches would include abalone and later several varieties of fish including cod, halibut, flounder, yellowtail, sardines, squid, shark, oysters and mussels. Later in the 1800’s Italian fisherman migrated to the area and competed with the Chinese.

Monterey, California is a Must Travel Stop

Above are just a few of the many things to see and do in Monterey. The Pacific Coast in the Monterey area is absolutely beautiful. No matter how many times you may have visited the area, the scenery never gets old.

things to do in monterey california
Monterey Harbor

In addition to the attractions explored in this article is a terrific line up of restaurants both in Monterey and nearby Carmel-By-The-Sea. Carmel is just a few miles from Monterey and most visitors take in Carmel and Monterey together.

The beaches and coastal terrain gives you some of the best scenery in California. The entire  area also has hotels that can accommodate most travel budgets.

The beautiful scenery along with a small town feel is what brings many people back to Monterey on a regular basis.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)