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Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Inconveniently located in neither Wilson’s Creek, Mo., nor Battlefield, Mo., this national park is still more than worthy of a visit. About 15 miles southwest of Springfield, the park is a natural and historical breath of fresh air on a visit to one of the stalest, ugliest cities in the nation, perhaps the world.

Fought on August 10, 1861, Wilson’s Creek was the second major skirmish of the Civil War and the first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River. A bloody mess, the battle was considered a Southern victory, in large part because of the death on the field of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action.

You can easily spend a morning or afternoon here, strolling through the museum with more than 5,000 artifacts and a nice visual recreation, then driving the eight-stop self-guided auto tour.

Other than the Gateway Arch, Wilson’s Creek is the closest destination for St. Louisans who want to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System.

 

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Kenrick Prairie

Win-win-win-win.

The decision to turn 22 acres of land on the grounds of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary to native prairie benefits all God’s creatures. With the help of the Missouri Department of Conservation, groundskeepers at Kenrick-Glennon planted native wildflowers, then watched and waited for Mother Nature to take her course.

And, after a couple of years, the prairie has matured. The keepers cut a walking path, varying its course to keep it two-footed visitors from overtrampling. In the process, they’ve cut their mowing time in half. Birds, bees and critters have returned to the area and restored native balance and beauty to the grounds, making it that much easier to contemplate The Great Glories.

The prairie is a little piece of heaven, cultivated by folks who have The Man’s ear.