Historic Sites In and Around Springfield
Kickapoo and Delaware tribes lived in the Ozark Mountains long before the early 1800s, when Springfield was settled by people of European ancestry. Incorporated in 1838, the fledgling community was traversed by the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and later the Old Wire Rd., which served as a connection between Springfield and the garrison at Ft. Smith, AR.
Caught between Southern and Northern sensibilities and viewpoints, the state suffered during the Civil War, and there are numerous Civil War battlefields in Missouri, inclulding Wilson's Creek Battlefield in Republic, just a short drive south of Springfield. It's a famous national historic site.
In the 1920s, Springfield became known as the birthplace of US Rt. 66, the first completely paved and numbered highway in the country, running from Chicago to LA.
The town has some lovely Victorian homes, massive limestone public buildings, and a number of museums filled with historic artifacts. The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave., has extensive genealogical records, available to the public.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield The second major battle of the Civil War took place here, on one of the best preserved battlefields in the nation. It's a beautiful and peaceful place now, with a 6 mile road that circles the park. Leave your car to hike on the trails that lead to specific historic spots. Also stop in at the visitors' center, book store, museum and Civil War Library. A schedule of activities and much information may be found here.
A fascinating place to visit if you're a Civil War history buff,and a lovely and unspoiled section of the Ozarks. Admission is $10/car, and you can use your America the Beautiful National Parks card for free entry.
History Museum for Springfield-Greene County
Thousands of artifacts help you envision Missouri history, and a new location on downtown Park Central Square brings it all to life. (417) 864-1976. Visit their site for information and a calendar of events.
Pythian Castle Built in 1913 by the fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias to care for needy members of the order, then used to house the needy during WWI and the Great Depression. During WWII, the US military took the castle over as a service club for wounded vets. Now on the National Registry of Historic Places, the castle is open for history tours. Call, or visit their website for times and prices. 1451 E. Pythian St., Springfield. 417-865-1464
The Railroad Historical Museum Look for the railroad cars parked in the 1300 block of North Grant St, in Grant Beach Park. Inside the cars, a free history museum chronicles the the history of the railroad in Springfield. Photos, artifacts, volunteers to answer questions (many worked for the railroad and have great stories to tell) and hands-on displays for the whole family. Click here for hours and more info.
Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site The 1830's homesite of Daniel Boone's youngest son, preserved as a renovated example of the traditional Ozarks double pen log cabin with center dogtrot. On the original home site, and the family cemetery and slave graves are on the land, as well. Approx. 40 min from Springfield in Ash Grove. For more information and directions, click here.
Ozark Afro-American Heritage Museum Open by appointment, this private museum run by Fr. Moses Berry, a black descendant of Nathan Boone, contains artifacts from slavery times, and welcomes visitors of all races and nationalities. You'll find art, clothing and unusual items, handed down over the years. 107 Main St., Ash Grove. 417 -672-3104 for appointments and more info.
Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks This patriotic museum states its mission as the restoration, preservation and display of military history and memorabilia for the education of their patrons. See a Cobra helicopter, a T-33 jet aircraft, Army Jeeps, trucks and other restored military equipment. Interactive displays. 2305 E. Kearney St. 417-864-7997
History of Hearing Museum Some early hearing aids, some examples of modern technology. Ever see an ear trumpet up close? Free. Open to the public. Call for hours. 628 Commercial St. 417-869-6550
Historic Rt. 66
Springfield is considered the birthplace of "The Mother Road" which cuts east-west through town. En route, you'll find such historic treasures as the 1947 Rest Haven Court Motel, the History Museum for Springfield-Greene County, plus restaurants, theaters, museums, galleries. Rt. 66 maps available at the Rt. 66 Information Center. 815 E. St. Louis St. 417-881-5300
Historic C-Street Historic Commercial St. in north Springfield is being renovated, and the old buildings now house a very eclectic collection of galleries, shops, restaurants and other businesses. One special historic point of interest is the old Jefferson Avenue Footbridge. Built in 1902 and renovated a few years back, it's the longest railroad pedestrian bridge in the U.S.