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No. of Recommendations: 4
“Missouri Roadsides: The Traveler’s Companion,” by Bill Earngey, University of Missouri Press, 1995. This 337-page hardback features over 300 articles on travel sites in Missouri. The focus is on hiking, biking, camping, float trips and related outdoor activities. This is your ideal travel guide with extensive background on the area and sites of interest.

Missouri is especially proud of its Katy Trail which runs across the state on a former railroad right of way. A map is included. The book features sites throughout the state. The author has chosen sites with something to see and enjoy. The articles often also describe other nearby communities.

Most of the items are about towns, but some cover related subjects. Included are historic topics like the Civil War, the Blackhawk War, the Kansas Border War, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Louisiana Purchase, Mennonites, the Missouri Compromise, Mormons, Order No. 11, the Oregon Trail, the Overland Mail Company, the Platte Purchase, Roads and Traces, the Sante Fe Trail, the Seminole Wars, Utopian Societies, the War of 1812, and the WPA, plus Boundary Lines, Cemeteries, Caves, County Profiles, Covered Bridges, Ferry Boats, Float Streams, Gristmills, Locks and Dams, National Forests and Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Post Offices, Prairies, Railroads, Stream Piracy, Suspension Bridges, and the Thong Tree.

Strangely, Lake of the Ozarks, famous for boating and water skiing is hardly mentioned. Bagnell Dam is not in the index.

Each article gives a bit of history of the town, when first platted, and things to see. A unique feature is a summary of the architecture to be found there, and typically something about the topography. Prairie lands, hilly, bottom land, etc. If caves are present they are mentioned.

Missouri is well known for its caves. Cave exploring or spelunking is a common hobby. There are over 5000 wild caves according to the author. Most are on private land. Liabilities make owners reluctant to grant permission to cave explorers. Most caves are explored surreptitiously. The book claims Missouri is the leader in caves, but others mention Kentucky. I count 24 commercial caves listed in the index. The book includes an article on caves, but it could have been written by lawyers. It cautions about dangers from flooding and wildlife found there. Not to mention getting lost. But of course the major feature is usually mud.

A final section covers recreational areas in about 30 pages. It describes float streams, lakes, state and national forests, parks, trails, and wildlife areas. Lists catalog features available. Paragraph summaries describe many.

The book is well indexed. It includes its own state map. And provides an index by map co-ordinate. This makes it easy to find other sites near your location.

One error noted is the location of Wentzville. It is indexed along with Forristel as southwest of Springfield near Arkansas, when in reality it is on I-70 just West of St. Louis. It is the site of a General Motors plant, a major employer in the area.

Those planning to enjoy the outdoors in Missouri will find this a valuable resource.
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