Visitors to St. Louis today will see one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the country. The Gateway Arch towers 623 feet over the west bank of the Mississippi River, so large that the name “The Gateway to the West” does not seem too grandiose.
That name recalls the time in 1803 when President Thomas Jefferson promoted Meriwether Lewis from personal secretary to expedition commander of the soon-to-be legendary Corps of Discovery, better known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which duly set out from St. Louis in May of 1804. With his friend and co-commander William Clark and the young Sacagawea, Lewis made history, then returned, as did Clark, to live in St. Louis.
Thanks to its location at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, St. Louis was a bustling port city when a young man named Samuel Clemens plied his trade there. Before he became Mark Twain, Clemens piloted riverboats on the Mississippi River, memorizing every feature of the route in order to guide boats safely to New Orleans and back to St. Louis.
The American Civil War and the railroad put an end to that way of life, but St. Louis lived on, hosting, in 1904, the World’s Fair and the Olympics. Certain structures dating from the time of the 1904 World’s Fair still stand in St. Louis’ Forest Park, along with the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum, and much else.
Worth Checking Out
- The Gateway Arch
- Forest Park
- Union Station