State History
Learn about the history of Missouri and find fun and interesting things to do and see all across Missouri. We've also found the best books, guides, websites, and other resources to make your study of Missouri fun and educational.
Things to See & Do in Missouri
Oregon National Historic Trail
As the harbinger of America's westward expansion, the Oregon Trail was the pathway to the Pacific for fur traders, gold seekers, missionaries and others. Beginning in 1841 and continuing for more than 20 years, an estimated 300,000 emigrants followed this route from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon on a trip that took five months to complete. The 2,170 mile long trail passes through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.
Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site
Established as a unit of the National Park Service in 1990, the park commemorates the life, military career, and Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, as well as his wife Julia Dent Grant. The site, also known as White Haven, consists of 9.65 acres holding five historic structures (main house, stone building, barn, chicken house, and ice house).
Pony Express National Historic Trail
The Pony Express National Historic Trail was used by young men on fast paced horses to carry the nation's mail across the country, from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, in the unprecedented time of only ten days. Organized by private entrepreneurs, the horse-and-rider relay system became the nation's most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph. Though only in operation for 18 months, between April 1860 and October 1861, the trail proved the feasibility of a central overland transportation route, and played a vital role in aligning California with the Union in the years just before the Civil War. Most of the original trail has been obliterated either by time or human activities. Along many segments, the trail's actual route and exact length are matters of conjecture. However, approximately 120 historic sites may eventually be available to the public, including 50 existing Pony Express stations or station ruins.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse. During a nationwide competition in 1947-48, architect Eero Saarinen's inspired design for a 630 foot stainless steel arch was chosen as a perfect monument to the spirit of the western pioneers. The Museum of Westward Expansion, located below the Arch, is as large as a football field and contains an extensive collection of artifacts, mounted animal specimens, an authentic American Indian tipi, and an overview of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Located just two blocks west of the Arch, the Old Courthouse is one of the oldest standing buildings in St. Louis, begun in 1839. It was here that the first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held in 1847 and 1850. Today, the building houses a museum charting the history of the city of St. Louis and restored courtrooms.
Harry S Truman National Historic Site
Harry S Truman National Historic Site includes the Truman Home in Independence, Missouri, and the Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Missouri. Both units are within the Kansas City metropolitan area. Harry S Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States, lived in the Truman Home from 1919 until his death. The white Victorian style house at 219 North Delaware Street was built by the maternal grandfather of Bess Wallace Truman (1885-1982), and was known as the "Summer White House" during the Truman administration (1945-1953). The site also includes the two adjacent homes of Mrs. Truman's brothers, and, across Delaware Street, the home of the President's favorite aunt and cousins. Built in 1894 by Harry Truman's maternal grandmother, the Farm Home is the centerpiece of a 5.25 acre remnant of the family's former 600-acre farm. Mr. Truman worked the farm as a young man, from 1906-1917. It was here, said his mother, that Harry got his "common sense." Several outbuildings are also on the site.
George Washington Carver National Monument
George Washington Carver's boyhood home in Diamond, Missouri, consists of rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies. The 210 acre park has a 3/4 mile nature trail, museum, and an interactive exhibit area for students. The cultural setting includes the 1881 Historic Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
The battle fought here on August 10, 1861, was the first major Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi River, involving about 5,400 Union troops and 12,000 Confederates. Although a Confederate victory, the Southerners failed to capitalize on their success. The battle led to greater federal military activity in Missouri, and set the stage for the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862. Wilson's Creek was also the scene of the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general to be killed in combat. With the exception of the vegetation, the 1,750 acre battlefield has changed little from its historic setting, enabling the visitor to experience the battlefield in near pristine condition.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states. Most of the trail follows the Missouri & Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis & Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic & National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL & passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, & WA. Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis & Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis & Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.
Teaching Tips & Ideas
Knowledge Quest
Knowledge Quest offers historical outline maps and timelines designed for the interactive study of world history and geography.
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: History
A look at teaching history across several grades using the classical method of education and a rotation of history every four years.
Featured Resources

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The Exhausted School: Bending the Bars of Traditional Education
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Freedom and Beyond (Innovators in Education)
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