Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Cape Girardeau, positioned on the left bank of the Mississippi, 115 miles south of St. Louis and just above its confluence with the Ohio River, has long been a stopping off point for travelers on the waterways. Notable visitors have included explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who dropped by in 1803 during their Corps of Discovery expedition west through the Rockies to the Pacific. That warm Missouri welcome continues today when river cruises come calling.
What We Love
The Historic Sites: This city of about 40,000 has 39 sites on the National Register of Historic Places — among them Civil War-era Fort D, the Confederate War Memorial, several cemeteries, and a number of notable buildings in the downtown commercial district.
Museums: Learn about Cape Girardeau's history at the Cape River Heritage Museum and see examples of early Native American pottery at the Crisp Museum.
Best Known For
Public Art: The city's flood walls are used as a 1,100-foot-long canvas, called the Mississippi River Tales Mural, that touts Cape Girardeau history and its river connection; other murals can be found on the sides of buildings in the city center.
Rush Limbaugh's Birthplace: The best-known person to have called Cape Girardeau home is conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The city's visitors bureau has a map tracing where he was born and went to school, as well as the radio station in town where he got his start.
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Who It's Best For
Conceptualists and Conservatives: Art lovers will enjoy how Cape Girardeau's flood wall murals offer insight into its past, while conservatives will relish learning about Rush Limbaugh’s early life.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Mellow: Everything here is pretty low-key. But approach your visit with an open mind, and layers of history will shine through.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.