ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - St. Joseph is one of the oldest cities in Missouri, and hosts several museums that showcase that rich history.
You can start your history tour at the Pony Express National Museum. Housed in the original Pony Express stables, the museum tells the story of the historic mail run.
Director Cindy Daffron said one of the major reasons it was started was to carry mail back east from California.
"That mail is moving 2,000 miles,” Daffron said. “People couldn't talk. They went out for the Gold Rush and they couldn't even communicate to their own families."
Several hundred riders and countless horses delivered the mail before telegraph and railroad lines took over.
You can see a map of the route, learn about some of the riders and look down one of their wells. You can also go in a replica of a waystation and see some of the mail they carried in one of the most heroic endeavors of the old west.
A less well-regarded chapter in history comes to life at the Glore Psychiatric Museum, which shows how doctors once treated patients with mental illness.
Public relations officer Kathy Reno said many visitors come away surprised by what they see there.
"They're surprised by what we thought would work in past centuries, the attitude toward mental illness," Reno said.
You can see quite a range of tools ranging from medieval devices to twentieth century EEG equipment.
They used these objects at the nearby State Lunatic Asylum Number 2. From human-size crates to fever cabinets and experimental surgeries, it's a sometimes disturbing picture of the treatment of mental illness.
Another popular stop is the Remington Nature Center. Located on the Missouri River north of downtown, their mission is to showcase the cultural and natural history of northwest Missouri.
Manager Andrea George said kids come in with lots of questions.
"A lot of times it's, 'How did you get the wooly mammoth in the door?' or 'Why do we see a black bear here?' and we're just here to show them things they might not be able to see otherwise," George said.
You can walk their riverside trail, or travel in time to see Native American artifacts. Get hypnotized by their working beehive and 7,000 gallon aquarium, and check out a replica of a beaver dam.
Visit their websites for more information:
- Pony Express National Museum: www.ponyexpress.org
- Glore Psychiatric Museum: www.stjosephmuseum.org/glore.htm
- Remington Nature Center of St. Joseph: www.stjoenaturecenter.info
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