St. Joseph, Missouri is really an oversized town more than a city but it is also my hometown. I rarely write about this and I am not one of these “hometown proud” types of guys but I had the opportunity to do a post about it, so here we are. I do enjoy the friendships and the people I have meet in “Joe Town.” I am also proudly a graduate of Lafayette High School on the north side.
My story starts here at Lindberg Elementary on St. Joseph Ave that lead to me being at Lafayette as a football player, wrestler and academic standout. This is my roots, my heritage and today’s post is about my old stomping grounds so to speak.
I do have to say that is a little wierd being from the same town as Jesse James (more on that later) but I am also from the same town as Walter Cronkite too. In fact, our city is the home for people like Dwayne Blakley (Atlanta Falcons), Mike Rucker (Carolina Panters) Harold F. Cherniss (Princeton University), Paul Crouch, Eminem, Jay Sarno, Bill Snyder, and Steve Walsh to name a few. For a town of 72,000 people, it has quite the list of notable people, I must say.
Probably the two things that the city is most known for is the Pony Express and the famous outlaw Jesse James. It was from St. Joseph that the beginning of how people received information changed in 1860. What use to take months was not reduced to less than two weeks due to the innovation of William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. They traded as the Pony Express.
Just two years later, the innovation they created was phased out by another innovation known as telegraph. The assets of the Pony Express would ultimately end up in the hands of Wells Fargo. At some point later, the stable and a few other things will be protected for historical values and became a museum. (That is the picture above)
However, make no mistake about it, the Pony Express changed the life of many but making communication coast to coast possible.
Route of the Pony Express
Jesse James is the other famous thing from this same time period that there has been much talk about. He caused havoc all over America and he was feared by the government. There is even posters by the Governor of Missouri offering big money (at that time) for his murder.
It was not until 1882 that he was shot by Robert Ford, a newer gang member that was trying to get the reward that the robbery ended. By this point, Jesse James had become a living legend and after death, he has remained one for over a hundred years.
This house (that he was shot in) is now next to the Patee House Museum and it still has the bullet hole in the wood. It is something worth checking out if you are ever in St. Joseph for sure.
Poster for Jesse James around 1880.
Growing up at Rosecrans AFB
I would say that a major part of my time as a kid was running around Rosecrans back in the 1980’s. I think I rode my bike on every flat surface back then. It was also where my dad spend large amounts of time as a member of the 139th Wing.
Many of the people who knew this still are family friends and have been part of my life to this day. That military base was about an extended family than just a place to work. This happened partly because most people who were stationed there finished their career where they started it.
Rosecrans AFB is the largest employer in St. Joseph
The impact of growing up in the military marked much of my thinking today. I know what it is to see your father deploy different times and seeing him spend nine months in the Middle East for Desert Storm impacted the whole family in a major way.
Even as an adult, I am thankful for the family that are Rosecrans Air Force Base and everything that I learned from the people there from a young boy to today. Some of my best memories are from that base.
One of these is what use to be yearly air shows. This was a day where the base would invite the whole community to come and get to know what the base can do to protect America and what the Air Force does in general. It was a common to end the day with a complete aerial demonstration of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a group of true bad ass pilots in the F-16 Block 52.
There is a growing call for artistic murals around St. Joseph
Is St. Joseph worth checking out?
While everyone thinks there is nothing worth checking out in their hometown, I would say that you could look around town for a day or two and really enjoy yourself. The people are pretty laid back and people are always helpful. We are just good midwestern people at the end of the day.
The fact is that a lot of people come through the town for one thing or another. This is especially true when people are bringing their boys to Camp Geiger (Boy Scout camp). They end up spending a day in the city and checking out the museums and things. Most of the museums are all in the same area so it is easy to move from one to another without much driving.
I do realize that the city of St. Joseph claims that it is a major tourist destination but I can’t see it. However, I could see people in Kansas City running up to check it out as an afterthought. As cool as some of the stuff in town is, I would not drive a thousand miles to see it. Sorry, City Hall.
While this article is less to do with photography than normally, this is part of a new series and it will leading up to a whole new website that is projecting what America has to offer the tourist. Be on the lookout for it. It should go live in November.
Yellow Cab is an iconic cam company for many years.