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  • Writer's pictureJeff Epps

Heritage Travel Campaign-Part 25 (Southeast Missouri)

Part 25 of my "Heritage" travel campaign.

After Labor Day weekend, I left southern Illinois and headed west across the Mississippi River into Missouri. Missouri is unofficially the "West," since it is west of the Mississippi River and St. Louis is considered, "The Gateway to the West," hence, the Gateway Arch.

Missouri is a mix of Southern and Western culture.

Early settler's settled in the upper 3rd region of the state known as, "Little Dixie," which is where notorious gangster, Jesse James, if from.

These pre-Civil War settlers come from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Fort D in Cape Girardeau, Missouri is a Civil War-era fort that is situated on the Mississippi River and was under Union control throughout the duration of the War. The Battle of Cape Girardeau was fought west of the city, so the fort never really saw much action.

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) is located in Cape Girardeau, and enrolls about 11,000 student every year. The addition of the River Campus has helped improve the arts at the University.

The Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. courthouse is named after famed political Rush Limbaugh's father. Rush Limbaugh is a famed conservative television/radio show host. Rush Limbaugh is from Cape Girardeau. Talkers Magazine has listed Rush Limbaugh's show as the most-listened-to show in the United States with 15.5 million listeners, weekly. In 2020, Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump during the State of the Union Address.

The Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo is a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) event that is held annually, in August, every year in Sikeston. It attracts about 40,000 people every year and brings in about $8 million dollars in revenue for Sikeston-area businesses. It features the best cowboys and cowgirls in the business and includes events such as bullriding, bullfighting, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and more. The Rodeo also features hit names in music and has included notable acts such as Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippon, Colin Raye, among others.

The original Lambert's Cafe, "Home of the Throwed Rolls," is located in Sikeston, MIssouri. It was founded in 1942 by Earl Lambert and family. There are two other locations, one in Ozark, Missouri, near Branson, and one in Foley, Alabama. I've never been to the Ozark location, but the other two I have. Lambert's is a family-owned Southern/country-style restaurant that specializes in dishes such as chicken fried round steak, meatloaf, roast beef, hot beef sandwiches, chicken gizzards, charbroiled chicken breast, etc. Lambert's Cafe is famous for their hot rolls, which servers with wheeled carts toss them at diners upon request. This is the main attraction that draws tourists from all over the world to Lambert's Cafe. Lambert's Cafe also had a gift shop, where visitors can purchase various novelty items as souvenirs.

Van Buren, Missouri is one home to Current River, among other attractions. The Current River is located in the southeastern portion of the Ozarks and is a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system, the first Federally-protected national park to protect a river in the United States. The Jack's Fork River, also a part of the Scenic Riverways system, is Current River's largest tributary and is located near Eminence, Missouri. The Current River is approximately 184 miles (296 km) long and attracts about 4 million visitors every year, to enjoy activities such as tubing, canoeing, fishing, camping, horseback riding, bird-watching, etc. Current River has gentle currents of class 1 and class 2 status, safe for everyone. Current River flows through the Mark Twain National Forest.

A top attraction on Current River is Big Spring, which is one of the largest springs in the United States and in the world. It is located about 4 miles (~6 km) downstream from Van Buren.

My two favorite accommodations on the Current River are both in Van Buren and are right across the River from each other. These are the Ozark Riverfront Campground, for the more budget, rustic campers located on the north side of the River, and The Landing, for the more luxury, hotel-style lodgers located on the south side of the River. They both have a great deal to offer with respect to adventure packages and they both have wonderful staff members who will treat you like family. In fact, they both are run by people who grew up together and who are from local Missouri communities. SHOW LESS


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