My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri. The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us. We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.
After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion. The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.
The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864. It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War. Price had the Union army outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.
On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is. Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour. The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.
After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri. It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.
Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains. It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet. It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief. The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.
There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres. There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail. There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations. For day use there is a picnic area.
The park has its own legend. It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story. The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior. They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms. There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed. Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life. This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.
We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains. The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants. Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.
The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county. The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland. The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819. The 2010 census showed a population of 130. The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.
It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley. There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861. There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels. The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley. It is a great way to spend the day or weekend. I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.
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