Each with a population of less than 1000 (in some cases less than 100), these unique small towns in Missouri all preserve a bit of history. Whether they play host to travelers or stay pretty much to themselves, there is something interesting to say about each one of them. Here are just 11 of the many tiny towns in Missouri with much to offer.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Jamesport POP 515
Visit a simpler time by taking a trip to Jamesport, Missouri's largest Amish settlement. Located in Daviess County, you'll find Amish, Brethren, and "English" folks in this community. It's important to know who you are dealing with, as Amish businesses are not open on Thursdays or Sundays and don't take debit or credit cards. Downtown holds more of the "English" (non-Amish) shops; you'll find the Amish shops more on the outskirts of town. You won't have a cell signal, so be prepared for that, but you will find many homemade, unique and quality wares at shops like the H&M Country Store or the Countryside Bakery.
2. Eminence POP 591
Sports Afield Magazine called Eminence "the top outdoor sports town in Missouri" and there's a reason for it. The Jack's Fork River flows though the middle of the town, and the Current River is nearby providing canoeing, trails, horse back riding, fishing, hunting, camping and more. There are even wild horses in the area. In downtown, visit quaint and unique shops and restaurants. Stay in one of many campgrounds, cabins, bed & breakfasts, resorts, hotels and motels. One of these resorts, River's Edge Inn Resort, was mentioned in an earlier post for their terrific swimming hole.
3. Auxvasse POP 983
A little town in Calloway County, Auxvasse hosts car shows, quilt shows, all-town garage sales, rodeos, parades and more. They have two parks. A.H. Domann Memorial Park features a basketball court, playground and pavilion. Mottaz park, located on Main Street next to City Hall, has a gazebo and picnic tables and is rented out for small weddings.
4. Lesterville POP 706
Located in Reynolds County near the Black River, Lesterville's local attractions include Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, and Franklin Floats for canoeing and floating. Stay at one of the many bed & breakfasts, cabins, and campgrounds or, for a view of the Black River, stay at The Wilderness Lodge, or the Black River Lodge for family-style fun. Established in 1816, Lesterville is the oldest town in Reynolds County.
5. Westphalia POP 390
Located in Osage County, Westphalia is rich in German Catholic Heritage, and many of the buildings possess such influence. In fact, it is the oldest German Catholic community west of the Mississippi. The Westphalia Historical Society Museum was established to preserve that heritage and is a must visit. You can stay at the Westphalia Inn, eat at the restaurant or sip award-winning wine from the Westphalia Vineyards. You might also stay in one of the bed and breakfasts, or visit the Historical St. Joseph Catholic Church.
6. Caledonia POP
Located in the Bellevue Valley in Washington County, Caledonia has over 20 historical homes, businesses, churches & cemeteries. Visit Elephant Rocks State Park, which is only 10 miles away, or wander around in Rowe Crop Farm's Corn Maze. Founded in 1819 and named after the Roman Empire's Latin name for Scotland, Caledonia also hosts Bellevue Presbyterian Cemetery and Church, which is the oldest Protestant cemetery and church in continuous use west of the Mississippi.
7. Blackwater POP 164
Named for the River adjacent to it, Blackwater in Cooper County has for the last decade or so been involved in a community-wide effort to improve and restore the town. They feature the newly remodeled Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant, the Telephone Museum, an 1890's jail and a restored one-room schoolhouse. The also have performances at The West End Theatre, where proceeds go to community development. There are also antique shops and unique gift shops, and festivals hosted throughout the year.
8. Van Buren POP 836
Van Buren is the county seat and the largest town in Carter County. Near the Current River and Big Spring, there's much to do such as Cave tours at Cave Spring Park & Current River Cavern, zip-lining at Eagle Falls Ranch Zipline Tours, a drive-in theater and the Current River Guide Service. Shop at The Landing River Store, Ash House Bed and Breakfast/Antique Mall, Crafton Farm & Home, and Jeans & Jewells. Stay at any number of cabins, campgrounds, RV sites and motels. Grab a snack at the Jolly Cone Drive-In or a meal at The Landing & Float Stream Restaurant or Dean's Barbecue & Grill.
9. Lupus POP 34
This tiny river town in Moniteau County was once named Wolfe's Point, but was changed to Lupus which is latin for wolf. They are most known for the live music featured at Lupus General Store, which is no longer a store at all but still displays old wares. Located near the Missouri River, most of the houses are on stilts to prevent possible flood damage. You might also see dogs roaming Main Street. If you are visiting in October, check out the annual Chili Festival.
10. St. Patrick POP 20
Founded in 1833 and named after the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, though tiny, takes their heritage seriously. Their biggest time of year is obviously around St. Patrick's Day where they host a huge celebration and the annual Irish Road Bowling. The town is also home to a shrine to St. Patrick which still hosts mass three days a week. It was created in Celtic style with Celtic crosses and 37 stained glass windows made in Dublin. It is also the only St. Patrick in the world with a post office, and each March since 1979, cards and letters are sent to the post office to be hand stamped with a pictorial cancellation commemorating St. Patrick's Day. Another must visit is the Old Irish Gift Shop featuring unique gifts and other items.
11. Florida POP 9?
It's unclear by the most recent census as to whether Florida actually has any residents, but there's still a draw for visitors interested in Mark Twain history. It is the location of the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site and is near Mark Twain Lake. Visitors can stay at the Florida Resort and Winery or the Key West Campground and visit the nearby Mark Twain State Park for picnics, hiking, boating and more.
Have you visited, or do you live in, any of these small towns? What was your experience? Share in the comments below.