StJoMo: The Beginning + The Ending

Leaving Kansas, we spent a full week in St. Joseph, Missouri – or as the locals and cool kids refer to it: StJoMo. StJoMo was the location of the beginning of the Pony Express.

Here, in 1860, a lone rider left these historic stables (inside and outside views below) carrying saddlebags filled with letters, hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, dreams were not enough, for the Pony Express failed after a year and a half of financial hardship.

Pony Express riders traveled relay-style across 2,000 miles, to and from Sacramento, California, battling nature, weather, bison, Indians, terrain, loneliness, hunger and more in an attempt to unite the country via East-West mail service. This was one of the most well-done, interesting museums we’ve seen in a long time!

StJoMo is also the location of the ending of famous outlaw Jesse James, in his very own home where he was hiding out with his wife, kids and mother under an assumed name.

In the ultimate double-indignity, James was (1) shot in the back by one of his very own own gang members — to claim the award being offered, and (2) shot while girlishly straightening a needlepoint sampler hanging in his living room. The bullet hole remains (picked away and made bigger at before being encased), as does the sampler.

The home featured an archaic piece of furniture even more useful to dating than Match.com. The fella would sit on the comfy cushioned side. His girl would be forced to sit on the narrow, un-upholstered side, thereby causing her to lean into him where he could more easily cop a feel.

StJoMo has more museums per capital than Washington, D.C, including ones devoted to Walter Cronkite, dolls, and even psychiatry and mental illness. Some of them are a little strange, some of them are a lot strange. For instance, this beautiful 19th century mansion known as the Wyeth-Tootle Museum …

with these beautiful gardens …

…but hardly any period furnishings. Instead, some unusual exhibits and a bunch of taxidermied animals, including a bear wearing a tiny top hat. Okey dokey then!

St. Joseph had a lot of late 19th century wealth and opulence due to its location on the Missouri River and in the path of railroad lines, and the Patee House Museum, set inside a former luxury motel, had an extensive collection of interesting period items.

It’s a popular attraction with families, with a reproduction carousel with unusual animals, and a “saloon” where little alcoholics-in-training can get sasaparilla and popcorn.

Other than museums, we spent the week in StJoMo catching up on errands, shopping, laundry, computer work … you know, all the things everyone does all the time, that aren’t necessarily blog-worthy. Farmers markets and outdoor concerts rounded out our sleepy little week here.

We have a good reason to take it easy for a week, because for his next adventure, Philip is going to ride his bicycle all the way across the state of Iowa over 7 days, with 20,000 other riders! Coming up next … it’s #RAGBRAI week!

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