This is probably my 3rd or 4th visit to the Jeff City (I recall one of my American friends used to call it Jeff City). I had to admit I forgot most of it as my last visit was probably more than 20 years ago. I recall in the Thanksgivings of 1997 and 1998, I visited the Governor’s Mansion because my American host family (Bob and Sue’s family) are the family friends of Governor Mel Carnahan. They are all Rolla native. I can explain their family relationship if you are interested. Please note host family is not where I stayed when I was in Rolla, but I interacted with them quite a bit and they helped me quite a bit in terms of learning / practicing English, as well as learn American culture and heritage.
Sophia our 9 year old decided she wanted to visit a place that’s about 2 hours drive, as recently saw a name for it “trip with one tank of gas” (don’t know how to measure it with EVs 🙂 And she picked the Jeff city. Probably because she likes the name. And I booked hotel which is the Hampton Inn near Capital Mall.
The day before the trip, my girls especially my 13 year old asked “dad, did you plan for the trip”? No I didn’t. So I did google and found Missouri State Penitentiary (tour booking website) on the top of the TripAdvisor list. So we kind agreed we will visit it on the second day (a Sunday). For Saturday we plan to drive there and stroll around the state capitol.
Half the fun is on the road, as the old saying goes. We took the highway 70 west from Wentzville, and took exit 148, drove highway 54 to the Jeff city. On highway 54 we passed Fulton, the Westminster College there is the location where Winston Churchill (the former prime minister of Great Britain) delivered the famous Iron Curtain speech. I understand that’s what Westminster / Fulton are famous for (for me). But I am fairly certain they have much more to offer. Below is from Westminster College website (if you scroll down a bit, you will see):
When you hear about Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri – you may also hear about Sir Winston Churchill, and for good reason. On March 5, 1946, Sir Winston Churchill visited Westminster College as the Green Lecturer and delivered “Sinews of Peace,” a message heard round the world that went down in history as the “Iron Curtain Speech.”
It was a quite hot afternoon, the capitol was closed to visitors. We went back Sunday morning to get a better view of the front side of Capitol, including the Missouri river.
I was surprised to find the sculpture of Monroe etc, which was about the Louisiana Purchase. I had to admit I didn’t brush up my Missouri history before the trip. Some of the other sculptures and memorials are also pretty good / impressive. The girls liked the Lewis and Clark monuments especially the dog.
For food, we had the Fuji Japanese restaurant, and Aunt Annies at the Capital Mall, also the Central Diary ice cream (this is the place to visit for the cancelled 4th graders field trip in 2020, when my 13 year old was a 4th grader). I am glad we finally made it after 3+ years 🙂
But we have a bonus this time, that is the Missouri State Penitentiary (Wikipedia). We picked the most popular 2 hour history tour. And I am a history junkie to be honest. The tour beat my expectation and there was one small scare moment: we toured the dungeon cell which is for the punishment of convicts (offenders => residents). It was totally dark for a few minutes. The tour guide Kathy was quite knowledgeable on the history and the penitentiary as she previously worked in the system, so was James the tour assistant. We toured the gas chamber at the last.
I understand it’s a bit ironic the most popular tourist destination is the penitentiary. But the capital mall is not bad either, with the stores and other entertainments, such as the little animals ride-ons (electric chargeable). Sophia liked it and the owner / operator is from China and she even offered free ride to her after she rode once. We were ready to leave though – we took a slightly different way back, as I saw some bad traffic / accidents on highway 70 (I-70), and decided to take highway 50 / I-44 instead. I had a little fun driving the more rural highway 50, a large portion of which is two lanes highway. But I survived with only 3 cars passing me 🙂