Where the Mid West meets the South you will find the state of Missouri. Known for its barbecue, wine, beer, jazz, ragtime, and as the gateway to the West, Missouri is known for its residents healthy skepticism, the novels of Mark Twain, and swing state status. Once the home of indigenous mound-builders and the Missouri tribe who granted the state its name French and Spanish colonists, German immigrants, Mormon missionaries, both anti- and pro-slavery guerrillas, and Ozark traditionalists, have all left their mark on Missouri.
By tracking down the old and forgotten places of Missouri, we can learn much more about the history of the state that served as a crossroads between east and west. A once-thriving railroad town is now known as the location of a violent typhoid outbreak. An ingredient used to make Agent Orange leads to the evacuation of an entire community. Flood waters wash away prominent transportation hubs on the state’s major rivers while healing waters attract visitors from around the country to a former resort.
One way to learn about the history of the Magnolia State is to study its lost places. From the port towns that highlight the heyday of steamship travel on the Mighty Mississippi River to the communities King Cotton helped build, these lost towns show not only the economic rise and fall of the state but how changing times and technologies affect everyday lives. Efforts to Americanize a Choctaw settlement led to the beginning of the Trail of Tears while a naval skirmish outside a small steamship port may have changed the course of the Civil War. A former mill town provided invaluable information in the fight against malaria and a farming community helped make new discoveries about yellow fever. The grounds of a NASA testing facility hide the remains of three once great logging towns, and a notorious highwayman haunts a Natchez Trace ghost town.
From a frontier outpost named after a type of wild turnip to one named after a shipwreck to a village famed for its missing postmaster, the former communities that once helped make up Minnesota help tell the story of this state. Cities gave way from Native American settlements to military towns and even county seats. River crossings, iron mines, and the lumber industry provided early and sometimes periodic economic engines for the state's cities and towns, though some were unable to survive with the changing times. Ojibwe, Dakota Sioux, French Canadian, British, and other European settlers worked together to build these Minnesota communities as well as those that still survive, proving that even a state as seemingly white bread as Minnesota can have a multicultural history.
Michigan in the present has seen the depopulation of its major cities as its reputation as a manufacturing mecca wanes. However, this is not the first time economic and cultural changes have erased communities from the state’s historical record. Towns centered around once-profitable mines and logging mills saw their populations tumble along with the surrounding industry. Disease, religious mistrust, and fire destroyed others. Some remain buried under the dunes of Michigan beaches while others have retreated into rivers and farm fields. Uncovering each also uncovers a piece of Michigan’s past.
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.