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Places Visited:
California: Burger Smokehouse
Jefferson City: Central Dairy's Ice Cream Shop, Jefferson Landing, Missouri State Capitol
Hermann: Stone Hill Winery

2003 Travelogue# 6 Jefferson City, MO
Mileage: 40535 Traveled 115 miles
Osage Campgrounds & More, 10miles East of
Jefferson City on Hwy 50 at the Osage River
W/E Hookups, 30-amps, gravel pads, $14.50

Friday, August 22, 2003

Thursday was travel day and we have found that's enough activity, in this heat, for one day. Our campsite is on the banks of the Osage River with fishing activity, since we are downstream from the water discharge of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Friday, we backtracked on Hwy 50 to California, MO, to the home of "Burgers' Smokehouse Quality Hickory Smoked Meats Since 1952". Having bought their hams and bacon from catalogues for years, we were not disappointed when we stepped out of the car and smelled the wonderful hickory aroma.

EM Burger was a farmer in this small Missouri town and to provide extra income for his family he started curing a few extra hams each fall at hog killing time. He blended a special rub that he put on the hams and then let them cure for a year. Once demand exceeded supply, Burger and several family members built their first building in 1952 for the processing and curing of country hams, and the local people knew the company as the "Ham House". In 1956 they became the first Federally Inspected Country Ham Plant in the USA.

We took a short tour of the facilities then settled on stools in their lunchroom to watch the ladies prepare our hickory smoked sliced ham sandwiches. The young grandson of Mr. Burger was frying some hickory smoked bacon and making BLT sandwiches for some of the workers, and offered us a couple of slices. We bought a pound to take back to the motor home.

Next stop in Jeff City was the Central Dairy's Ice Cream Shop. This is a MUST if you are in the area. So many different flavors; and you name it, they can make it. Peg and I ordered a banana split and they stacked two scoops of ice cream in three different flavors for a total of six scoops with all the trimmings. At this place there's no such thing as a "single scoop".

After that little detour we were off to Jefferson Landing, a State Historical Site along the Missouri River. It is one of the few remaining 19th century riverfront landings, which was a busy center for commerce for the City during the mid-1800.

From the landing, we walked uphill to the Missouri State Capitol building, which is Roman Renaissance in style, completed in 1918. It sits high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Upon entering the building, the first thing to catch our eye was the rotunda that is 68-feet in diameter and four stories high. Two corridors lead to the rotunda and two side corridors house a museum displaying the history of Missouri and the resources of the state. Throughout the rotunda area, on three floors, is artwork. The mural by Thomas Hart Benton on the third floor is a must see, depicting the evolution of the State. The two chambers of the House were impressive with their beautiful wood, marble columns, and stain- glass windows.

We both walked away realizing that Missouri was truly the doorway to the opening of the west after the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark left from there to explore the west and each became Governor of the State of Missouri after statehood.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

We spent the day in the small German town of Hermann in Gasconade County, nestled on the banks of the Missouri River. The town was an early settling place because the rolling countryside reminded them of their Rhine Valley in Germany.

Hermann sparkles with history, being the county seat for Gasconade County. At one time it was the largest county, encompassing the whole bottom half of the State. Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the famous pioneer Daniel Boone, was appointed a Commissioner of the Territorial Legislature in December 1820 to help locate the "most" suitable place for the erection of a courthouse and jail in the County. Boone also served as one of the first justices of the County.

We were very fortunate to have Judy and Norbert S. as our docents. Judy is Circuit Clerk for Gasconade County, an elected position she has earned for the last three terms. Peggy was the Maid of Honor in Judy and Norbert's wedding some 40 years ago and they were best friends in high school. It was such fun to renew friendships after such a long time. Norbert ran the bakery in Hermann, and has since retired, but as we drove into their quiet driveway at the end of Peaceful Valley Lane overlooking the Missouri River, they met us with coffee and fresh pastries.

After visiting for a while, we took a short drive around town and ended our tour on a high hill overlooking the city. Vineyards about ripe for harvesting, grew along both sides of the road, as we climbed to the historic Stone Hill Winery & Restaurant at the top. The restaurant, located beside the winery, is in the old carriage house, specializing in German cuisine. After lunch we walked through part of the old winery that doubles as a gift shop and wine tasting area.

Stone Hill was established in 1847 and grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. Their wines became recognized, as they earned gold medals in eight world fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. At the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition in the 1920's, business fell off the cliff, and they converted the wine cellars, that were underground and the largest vaulted cellars in America, into a mushroom farm. In 1965, the winery was sold to new owners who began restoring the property and now Stone Hill is Missouri's largest and most awarded winery.

Judy, being the Circuit Clerk, had keys to the County Court House. We journeyed into the past as we entered into a turn of the century oak wood courtroom. In this old setting we could picture in our minds "Thaddeus Finch" talking to the jury in "To Kill A Mockingbird".

The Court House was laid out very similar to the Capitol, four wings and a three-story rotunda with murals painted by local artists. As Circuit Clerk, she had transferred many of the historical records, births, deaths, probate, etc. over to the Archives & Records Center which was once a bank, then a doctor's office, and now the building is owned by the Gasconade County Historical Society. It too, was a walk back in time with pegged wooden floors, large desks, like those in a library or attorney's office, and shelves of old hand written journal books. The States below the Mason-Dixon Line, are not privileged to have such wonderful historical archives because many of the Court Houses were burned at the time of the Civil War destroying all records..

We completed our tour at the OakGlenn Vineyards and Winery, behind the
S's home, which sat high on a hill overlooking the Missouri River. We were met with a panoramic view. On one side was the winery, and in front was a long porch where people were sitting and listening to a small band. Looking in the other direction were acres of vineyards cascading down the hill. I walked down to pick some wonderful full white grapes and brought several back to taste. They just were bursting with sweetness and flavor. Peggy loved the taste, so I found the tasting room, the owner, and purchased a bottle of Chardonnel, from the Chardonnel grape arbor where we had sampled the grapes.

We said our good-bys and left Hermann for the drive back to Jeff City. We took one of the rural roads to see the countryside, which ended at the Gasconade River. There, a two-car ferry, for a $3 fee, carried us across the River. It was the strangest feeling, as we glided across the water, I kept stepping on the brake pedal, but it did no good, we were still rolling. Once landside again, we were on our way home, after a fun day with friends from long ago.


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