Where the North fought the South And the East left for the West

The city of St. Joseph represented the central hub of all the country’s major communication and commercial passage routes in the middle of the 1800’s and during the Civil War. Of particular importance, it was the western terminus of the nation’s railroad system in 1861.  Also, it was the eastern terminus of the Pony Express overland mail route to California which kept the communication lines open to the vast western regions of the country; which has been credited with helping pacify and keep California in the Union.  Additionally, the city served as a major steamboat terminus linking the Missouri-Mississippi-Ohio River complex connecting river passage across the country.

St. Joseph also became one of the major western migration departure points on the Oregon-California Trails and had a connecting link to the Santa Fe Trail. The town was known as the “Gateway to the West.”  Lastly, it operated as the western terminus for the telegraph.  All of these points made St. Joseph of immense strategic and geographic importance during the Civil War.



9 – 10:15 am

The St. Joseph Museum is dedicated to the history of St. Joseph from pre-history to contemporary times.  They have a host of exhibits on the medical aspects of the Civil War, from stories illustrating the conditions faced by soldiers and others who were injured in the fighting.  Exhibits also feature the advances made in battlefield medical care since that time.

10:15 – 11:30 am

Driving tour to include Fort Smith, remnants of a Civil War Fort in St. Joseph and Mt. Mora Cemetery, where several hundred Confederate and Union Soldiers are buried, including General M. Jeff Thompson aka “Swamp Fox.”

11:30 – 1:00 pm


1 – 2:30 pm

Mount up and head to the “Stables” of the Pony Express Museum.  The famous mail delivery service started within these very walls on April 3, 1860.  Your guide will give a personalized tour of exhibits covering the creation, running and demise of the Pony Express.

2:30 – 4:00 pm

Step back in time at the Patee House Museum and Jesse James Home. The Patee House was the original hotel that housed the headquarters for The Pony Express in 1860 and was the finest hotel west of the Mississippi. Civil War  “Formal Balls” were held in the Ballroom.  Today, it offers a “hands-on” look at St. Joe’s history.  Stroll down Old Main Street (every storefront has an item that does not fit the era you have to find it!), climb aboard a steam engine and visit the little house where Jesse James was shot and killed.  End your tour on the “Wild Thing Carousel”.

4:00 pm

Head for Home or stay the night at a St. Joe Hotel.

For more information or to customize this sample itinerary for your group please call your tour operator or the St. Joseph CVB, 816-233-6688.

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