Missouri Adventure Loop

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ajayhawkfan, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Roaring River (Cassville) to West Plains

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    North of Roaring River Spring there is a nice gravel road that follows Roaring River however the low water crossing was not passable because flooding destroyed the crossing. The damage maybe so severe it never gets repaired therefore I have also included the detour on the highway.

    The route starts in the Mark Twain National Forest on scenic gravel and dirt roads.

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    After leaving the National Forest the route picks up Highway 248 to Galina, MO. This little used highway is a very enjoyable with nice sweepers following a high ridge with views in all directions.

    After Galina more blacktop inorder to get out the potential traffic problems around Branson. I tried to keep the route on the most scenic blacktop in the area. Once through back into the National Forest with a number of creek crossing along Bull, Swan and Bever Creeks (all have very good smallmouth fishing. Bull and Swan after heavy rains are exciting whitewater floats).

    Before Ava, MO the route is on the National Forest Service Scenic Byway called the Glade Top Trail. It is 23 miles of nice gravel following a ridge that is about 500 feet above the surrounding rolling hills.

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    If the timing is right, I urge you to stop at Ava Drug. It is a step back in time because Ava Drug still has a soda fountain with red stools and a checkerboard floor.

    Shortly after Ava you will come to a low water bridge crossing Bryant Creek and the river access point called Vera Cruz. Vera Cruz was founded in 1840 and was the first county seat of Douglas County. On Nov. 7, 1862 the Battle of Clark's Mill was between 100 Union Troops and 1000 Confederates. The 100 Union Troops held the town and mill and were in a 5 hour fight with the 1000 Confederates. Under a white flag the Confederates demanded the surrender and given the difference in strength they did.

    The old log church and cemetery and some mill ruins are all that is left of Vera Cruz. This is the only area where there is sand along the route.

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    The roads in the area are as enjoyable as any on the trip.

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    I have a fascination with mills. My GGG Grandfather, George Washington McCaskill, built Alley Spring Mill (not on the route) in 1893-1894. At the time there was a community in the area and the mill also powered a generator for lights. It was a flour (wheat) mill although corn was the primary crop in the area. Being a flour mill was not a detriment because 1. it captured 100% of the wheat in the area and 2. the family also had corn mills in Summersville and Houston, Missouri. The Alley Springs Mill is now part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways.

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    I didn't include the this mill because it would add so many more miles to the route but I did route past a number of historic, lesser known mills. The first being Rockbridge Mill. Rockbridge which was the county seat of the original Ozark County from 1841 until burned to the ground during the Civil War. A new village grew up around the mill built on the banks of Spring Creek in 1865.

    B. V. Morris bought and enlarged the mill in 1888.

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    In 1894 he built a two-story general store from pine lumber cut from the virgin forest. The store was considered one of the largest and finest in the Ozarks and once offered everything from food to hardware--including coffins. A bank building was added in 1904.

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    After witnessing the stirrings of growth and change in the Ozarks, the general store and the bank closed in 1933; the mill in the late 40's.

    The General Store had a fantastic restaurant. I recommend the BLT&T (bacon, lettuce, tomato and trout). The area is now a private trout and game ranch with cabins and rooms for rent.

    Next is Zanoni Mill (on private property) build in 1905:

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    Hodgson Spring comes from a cave at base of the bluff. It discharges 23 million gallons a day, the 19 largest in Missouri. Hodgson replaced the original mill with this one in 1897. The mill was in operation until 1965.

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    NOTE: the white waterwheel is fake. A previous owner got tired of people asking why they mill didn't have a wheel so he built one. The mill has always been run by a turbine.

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    Total Miles: 215
    #21
  2. velobuff

    velobuff Adventurer

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    :strum:thumb
    #22
  3. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    Continuing to be an excellent thread. Excited about trying parts of your routes in July. :)
    #23
  4. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    West Plains To Dexter

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    This section will take you from the Ozarks to the Mississippi embayment (lowlands), from forests to crops (cotton, rice, corn, beans) from the Mo mountains to the deep South.

    First stop and one of my favorite mills is Falling Spring Mill. In 1851 Thomas and Jane Brown along with 15 others homesteaded in this area. The existing mill is the second one located built to use Falling Spring for power. It is one of the younger mills in the state being built in 1927. The mill was a multipurpose mill, grinding corn, cutting shingles and generating electricity. Not far from the mill is a cemetery worth visiting and a marker to unknown soldiers.

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    Some of the works are still in the mill:

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    The 1851 Brown log cabin is located across the mill pond from the mill:

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    You should have no trouble getting to the mill however if the water is high you'll come to this problem and may need to backtrack (as the tracks show):

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    Greer Springs Mill is next. Greer Springs is the second largest spring in Missouri with an average discharge of 222 million gallons of water a day. There is a 1.2 mile hike to the spring. The first mill was build at the spring in 1859 and destroyed during the Civil War and was rebuilt shortly thereafter. Sometime after 1883 and before 1899 the second mill was removed to make way for the final mill that operated until 1920. This mill is unique in its location, less than 1 mile uphill from Greer Spring, which required the use of an ingenious system of cables and pulleys to harness the power of the spring.

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    Turner Spring and Mill is one of my favorite places to take visitors. You park and have to take a short trail through the woods to the site. Surprise was once a thriving community at Turner's Mill. The post office was established in 1895 and ended in 1925

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    All that remains of the town is the old school that is on the National Register of Historic Places, some stone work and this 25 foot wheel:

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    And the spring:

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    In the above picture note the stone wall that created part the mill race that would have flowed over the wheel.

    After Turner's Mill the route takes you though the Irish Wilderness. In 1858 the area was settled by Irish immigrants that originally settled in St. Louis in the 1840. The Irish were discriminated against and mostly worked in mining and for the railroads. Father John Hogan, an Irish Catholic Priest and missionary in Missouri (and future Bishop of St. Joseph and Kansas City), saw the potential for the Irish to own their own land, farm and raise a family. In 1859 about 40 families were settled in the area with more coming. The settlement existed only until 1863. The area had a few roads that crossed the settlement making the area vulnerable to both Union and Confederate attacks. By 1863 all people were either murdered or moved and Union Major James Wilson destroyed what was left. The area reverted back to Wilderness.

    A view of the Eleven Point River from the Irish Wilderness:

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    Boze Mill was built as early as 1850 by Richard Boze ("Devil Dick" Boze), and his brother. It harnessed the power of Boze Spring that flows ar a rate of 14 million gallons a day:

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    A rock wall and turbine are all that remains of the Mill.

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    @Get_Bent (Mike) on the right. I'm on the left:

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    Note the kayaker in background, he paddled up from the Eleven Point River about 50 yards downstream.

    After visiting the mills we picked up blacktop to the Mississippi lowlands and then picked up high speed gravel. The area is rich farm country growing anything they put in the ground including rice and cotton. We had a number of places where we had to backtrack however that should not be as much of a concern in the future.

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    Shortly after crossing the Black Water Bridge the area was flooded and we had another backtrack.

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    Total distance 190 miles. After the mills much is blacktop or high speed gravel. We left West Plains around 8:00 and made it to Dexter for lunch at 2:00.
    #24
  5. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thank you. Let me know what part you ride in July.

    Rock Chalk

    Eddie
    #25
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  6. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    #26
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  7. LSGiant

    LSGiant Long timer

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    Very nice report. We have been to the Alley Springs Mill many time as we have an annual event in Steelville. This information will put a new perspective on my next visit.

    Thanks again for a fine report.
    #27
  8. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Jeff, thanks. I have lots more to go.

    I like the Steelville area. Next time you go let me know. I have a lot of waypoints that may be of interest to you.

    Eddie
    #28
  9. ShimrMoon

    ShimrMoon Been here awhile

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    Wonderful part of the country we don't see enough of.
    #29
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  10. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Dexter to Ste. Genevieve

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    Dexter is situated on Crowley Ridge. Crowley Ridge is a 150 mile narrow ridge that rises 250 to 550 feet above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The ridge runs from from Cape Girardeau to Helena, Arkansas and is the most prominent feature in the Mississippi River Valley between Cape and the Gulf of Mexico.

    The roads along the ridge have nice curves and elevation changes.

    Located along Crowley Ridge is Bloomfield. In Bloomfield is the National Stars and Stripes Museum and Library. During the Civil War and IL set up camp in Bloomfield. There was an abandoned newspaper office so they decided to print their activities and called it Stars and Stripes.

    Also in Bloomfield and a stop on the tracks is the Civil War Cemetery. There are 156 Confederates buried in the cemetery, the vast majority from the local area.

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    This is the ONLY cemetery in the country that has a synopses of how each soldier died on the back of the tombstone. Some dies locally, some at the Battle of Mine Creek in Kansas (had the second largest cavalry charge in the War) and some as far as Virginia. The soldiers that died in Mine Creek caught my attention because that was the first Civil War Battlefield I visited growing up and I run cattle not far from the battlefield.

    A few tombstones that caught my attention:

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    How Minton died:

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    Ladd was executed:

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    The most memorable to me:

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    Summary in 10 words:

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    The route follows Crowley Ridge and then drops into the valley below before going back into the Ozark Highlands.

    Next stop, Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge.

    The Bollinger's received a SPANISH land grant in 1797 and moved from North Carolina to the area. In 1800 Bollinger built the first log mill at this location. In 1825 it was rebuilt with local limestone. During the Civil War is was destroyed to prevent it from grinding flour and meal for the Confederacy. In 1867 the present mill was built upon the limestone foundation of the 1825 mill.

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    The covered bridge over the Whitewater River was started 1858 but was delayed because of the war. 1868 it was completed. It is the oldest surviving covered bridge in Missouri.

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    Tower Rock is on the route but we could not get there because of the flooding.

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    Note: The sign is to Tower Rock.

    Tower Rock is an island in the Mississippi River. If was first noted in 1673 by French Missionary FatherJacques Marquette, S.J.. The earliest Europeans to use the island were pirates that used it to ambush traders. They were driven out in 1803 by US Dragoons. Meriwether Lewis mentioned the rock in his journals as a place where rivermen celebrate passing the island similar to the way sailor celebrate crossing the equator by raising a toast. Rivermen still celebrate passing the rock with a toast or even a dunk in the river. (Picture from an earlier trip to Tower Rock).

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    At St. Mary's, Missouri there is road west over a channel of water. At one time that was the Mississippi River Channel. Once crossed you are in Illinois on Kaskaska Island. The town of Kaskaskia was a major French Colonial town of 7,000. For a time is was the Capital of Illinois Territory and when IL because a state it was the Capital for a short time. Most of the town was destroyed in an 1881 flood that also changed the river channel. In the 2010 census there were only 13 people living there. I don't know if there are that many now. There are a few houses and a beautiful Catholic Church and the "Liberty Bell of the West". King Louis XV sent the bell to the church in 1741.

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    One of the homes:

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    Up next is Ste. Genevieve, founded in 1735 is the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River in Missouri. There is a lot of history to see about the early French settlers, two examples:

    The Louis Bolduc House and Museum, built in the 1780's and stayed in the family until 1949.

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    The Green Tree Tavern is the oldest verified vertical log building in Ste. Genevieve. Officially dated to 1790 by dendrochronology studies, this “poteau sur sole” (post on sill) vertical log construction was built by the French Canadian Nicolas Janis. This impressive structure has also been used as an inn, a tobacco store, and the first Masonic Lodge in Missouri.

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    As you can see both claim to be the oldest.

    If interested in history or architecture I suggest spending time in Ste. Genevieve even if you don't go into any of the museums.

    Mike (@Get_Bent) and I got rooms at Inn St Gemme Beauvais and can recommend staying there. Each room was about $100 including tax and included a fantastic breakfast.

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    (Image from the inns website.)

    There are many B&B's to chose from downtown. I have also stayed at the "newer" Microtel that is a 1.5 mile walk to downtown. There are a few other motels available as well. There is nothing available in the city for camping. The closest place to camp is 10 miles north in Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area.

    The Anvil Restaurant and Bar located downtown has very good bar food. Try their onion rings and any special of the day.

    Dexter to Ste. Genevieve is 144 miles. West Plains to Dexter to Ste. Genevieve was the most miles of our trip but it also includes to most blacktop and highspeed straight gravel.

    #30
  11. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    You and Cannonshot have got the history thing down pat !!!!!
    BigDog
    #31
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Really enjoying the report. Lots of interesting stuff!
    #32
  13. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Any comparison to Connonshot is a great complement. Thank you.
    #33
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  14. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thank you. Once out of school I realized how much I enjoyed history.

    My longer trips tend to be history based such as Lewis and Clark, Smokey Hill Trail, Civil War Battles and the Pike Road (from Baltimore to Vandalia, IL). I'm now researching the Pony Express and hope to follow that route to San Fransisco next.
    #34
  15. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Ste. Genevieve to Hermann or Colonial French to German.

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    We had a later start to our day because of breakfast served at the Inn and it was well worth it! I got the house specialty of stuffed French Toast. I would go back just for breakfast.

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    @Get_Bent had beignets. When he sees this post maybe hell post pictures of his breakfast because I know he took a picture as well.

    After a leisurely and filling breakfast we left Ste. Genevieve after checking out the historic flood marker:

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    We rode very scenic roads when I asked @Get_Bent if you wanted to take the tour through the lead minds at Bonne Terre. "Yes" was the answer so we took the detour. The tours are every hour on the half hour. I had taken the tour twice over 25 years ago. I was just as impressed on this tour as I was at that time.

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    The Bonne Terre Mine was started in 1864 and was worked until 1962. At the surface there is a lot of machinery that was used in the mine:

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    The mine has 5 levels and each level is about 50 from floor to ceiling and supported by pillars. The bottom three levels have filled with water creating a "billion gallon" underground lake that is a haven to divers. The lake has 17 miles of underground shoreline. The clarity of the water is incredible at over 100 feet. The tour takes about a hour and includes walking and a boat ride on the lake. The following are a few pictures I took while 100 feet underground.

    Notice the oar cart in the water. That is about 200 feet from where I took the picture in 80 feet of water:

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    Wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, drills, etc. are all over the place. If something broke the worker grabbed a new item and discarded the broken item. Hand items were not repaired.

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    From the water to ceiling is about 80 feet in this picture:

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    Picture taken while on the boat.

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    Picture from level two looking up at a hole where the ceiling collapsed.

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    TAKE THE TOUR!

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    Next stop, more history. I came across this final resting spot while reading about Lewis and Clark. It is the grave of
    French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau. Charbonneau is best know as Sacagawea's captor-husband. He lived with the Hidatsa People in 1804 near the site of Fort Mandan. In Nov of 1804 he was hired as an interpreter. After the expedition he did settle for a time in the St. Louis area but left to for what is now ND to trade and work for the Upper Missouri Agency's Indian Bureau as an interpreter. Where he died and when is not known for sure. Some believe he is buried at Fort Mandan in ND other believe he is buried Richwood, MO. People in Richwood claim to be his dependents.

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    After riding though vineyards we stopped in Hermann for the night because this town needs to be explored. The town founded in 1837 on a bluff over looking the Missouri River.


    It is commonly believed that the Hermann area’s resemblance to the Rhine Valley prompted scouts from the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia to choose the site for a colony on the American frontier. The society had almost utopian goals of a "heart of German-America" where it could perpetuate traditional German culture and establish a self-supporting colony built around farming, commerce, and industry.

    The Germans immigrants established vineyard on both sides of the Missouri River near Hermann and by the 1880 Missouri produced over 2,000,000 gallons of wine a year, most of it produced in the Hermann area. Missouri was the number 1 wine producing state in the country. Stone Hill Winery became the second largest in the nation (and the third largest in the world), shipping a million barrels of wine by the turn of the 20th century. Its wines won awards at world fairs in Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. Stone Hill is still in existence and you can tour their cellars.

    This building build in 1886 housed the Monnig store, a hardware, mercantile, pharmacy and post office all in one, with the upper floors the home of its prominent proprietor. In 2007 the building was restored and the second floor is an expensive Bed and Breakfast.

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    I stayed there once when you could negotiate a rate in the off season. Something that the owners don't allow any more.

    The hallway and room:

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    I was living large.

    The Concert Hall and Barrel Tavern, built in in 1878 has very good restaurant on the first floor. I recommend getting the sausage platter. All the sausages are made locally.

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    @Get_Bent spent some time here, in the 100 year old mill. The brew beer in accordance to the German Purity Law of 1516 with barley and hopps imported from Germany.

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    I do recommend staying the night here:

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    It is very reasonably priced, in a great location where you can walk to the major attractions in town. They have a nice morning breakfast and a fire pit to enjoy in the evening with a bottle of wine.

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    Hermann City park has camping. Besides the Harbor Haus Inn there are a couple of other reasonably priced motels and numerous B&Bs.

    Ste. Genevieve to Hermann, 102 year and 150 miles. It was the fewest miles we rode during the trip.

    #35
  16. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

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    Just, outstanding Eddie!
    #36
  17. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thanks Jack.
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  18. LSGiant

    LSGiant Long timer

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    Maybe in your next slide but I believe there was civil war battle just outside of Hermann as we attended a reenactment there a few years back. Joane and I both like Hermann.
    #38
  19. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    There was a unique battle south of Hermann at Fort Davidson. I wanted to include the battlefield but it added so many miles. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/fort-davidson
    #39
  20. LSGiant

    LSGiant Long timer

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