Historic towns are sprinkled all over Missouri, many of them with less than 1000 people in them. Most of the towns in the state have at least one building on the National Register of Historic Places. Here are some of the oldest towns in Missouri, all with rich historical pasts.
Arcadia was incorporated in 1979 and is located in Iron County with a population of 608. Of particular historical note, the former Ursuline Academy is now known as the Arcadia College Historic District, and features 8 buildings, all from the mid to late 1800’s. It has been redesigned as a destination tourist attraction and features a bed and breakfast, restaurant, bakery, ice cream parlor, wedding location, a chapel, gymnasium, theater and walking and horse-drawn tours. Visit
Thee Abbey Kitchen Arcadia Academy
for more information.
Located on the west fork of the Black River in Reynolds County, Centerville has a population of 191 and was established in 1845 as the county seat. West Fork Mine has been mining lead, zinc, and silver for years, and the 1871 era Reynolds County Courthouse is one of the few courthouses in Missouri that are over 100 years old. There are many historical sites, museum, and antique shops, and The Butterfly Inn, a turn of the century home, is available for rental.
Another historic town in Reynolds County, Ellington was established in 1893 and has a population of 987. Visit the Reynolds County Museum on Main Street or tour nearby Fort Barnsville. The Sweetwater Lead Mine mines both lead and zinc. Rent a canoe at Joe’s Canoe Rentals or visit the Webb Creek Marina. Stay at the Homeport Inn Bed and Breakfast and dine at one of the many local restaurants including Checo’s Mexican Restaurant or the Clearwater Lake Café. For more information about Ellington, visit
Ironton is the county seat of Iron County, with a population of 1,460. Named for local mining of iron ore, it was established in 1857. Impacted by the Civil War, the historic courthouse still bears a cannonball scar. At the Ste. Marie Du Lac Catholic Church there is a monument to General Ulysses S. Grant. In addition they feature bed and breakfasts, carriage rides, restaurants, antique shops, local shops like Beyond Bling, a jewelry store, and soap shop Arcadia Valley Soap Company.
5. Reeds Spring
With a population of 913 and located in Stone County, Reeds Spring was incorporated in 1906. They are currently in the process of rebuilding and restoring historic buildings like the 1936 WPA Building. Visit their historic downtown loop on Highway 413/248 for shopping, restaurants, and an art school and gallery. Check out Ace’s Antiques and Collectible Emporium on Main Street.
Vienna became the county seat of Maries County in 1855 and has a population of 610. Attractions of note include the Old Jail Museum, Felker Log House, and Latham Log House, all built in the 1850’s, as well as the Historical Society of Maries County Museum. They host the Maries County Fair every year at Vienna Park and are near the Gasconade River.
Located in St. Charles County with a population of 253, Augusta was founded in 1836. Besides Augusta’s Historic Museum, they also are home to the Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant Winery, Augusta Brewery, antique shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, a wood shop, a glass studio, and more. Located in the bluffs above the Missouri River Valley about 35 miles from St. Louis, the town is also a stop along the Katy Trail. To find out more about Augusta, visit
With a population of just 203, Marquand is located in eastern Madison County in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, and was incorporated in 1906. The town just celebrated Pioneer Days this past weekend, a yearly event, and attractions also include Homan Hall Performing Arts Center, an art gallery, historic Main Street, Durso Hills Bistro & Winery (in Homan Hall), and the Hide-A-Way Café.
9. Cape Girardeau
With a population of 37,941, Cape Girardeau is by far the largest town on this list. There are a total of 39 historic sites in this town that are on the National Register of Historic Places, eight of which are historic districts such as the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historic District. Other attractions of note are the Fort D Historic Site and the Confederate War Memorial. Visit the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau
for more information and things to do.
Another larger city on this list is Sedalia with a population of 21,387. Located 30 miles south of the Missouri River in Pettis County. Must-sees include Sedalia Katy Depot, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Bothwell Lodge, as well as wineries and vineyards, lots of antique shops, local art and gift shops. They also claim to be home of the "Gooberburger", which is a peanut butter topped hamburger you can try at Kehd’s or Goody’s Steak Burgers. Visit
for more information.
Other historic towns in Missouri have been featured previously in the following articles:
15 MORE Small Towns Featuring St. James, Excelsior Springs, Waynesville, Charleston, New Madrid, Chillicothe, Dexter, Salem, Licking, Mansfield, Glasgow, Paris, Steelville, Hamilton and New Haven
Safest Smaller Places Featuring Greenwood, Smithville, Pleasant Hill, Shrewsbury, Ladue, Clarkson Valley, Bonne Terre, Savannah, Defiance, and Marthasville
And also in :
Safest Cities, Super Tiny Towns, and Small Towns
Missouri has a lot of history and a lot towns that work to preserve that history. What is your favorite historic town in Missouri? Share in the comments below.
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