What’s So Great About Boonville?
Established in 1817, Boonville, Missouri was once home to a boy’s military school known across the nation and the oldest theater west of the Alleghenie Mountains. A central city in an already divided state, Boonville had both Union and Confederate sympathizers and was the center of two Civil War battles. The old Victorian and Tudor inspired houses on Water Street were both Underground Railroad homes and have still-standing slave quarters in the back. Later, in the 20th century, Boonville was a frequented stop for drivers who used Highway 40, which ran through the middle of town, and often hosted famous guests such as actress Shirley Temple.
Boonville’s changed as the years have passed. Kemper Academy Military School for Boys closed down in 2002 and the reformatory is now a federal prison. Riverboats no longer tour the Missouri river to drop off wares and goods, and the once bustling riverfront now has the Isle of Capri Casino in its place.
With just over 8,000 residents, this small Missouri town by the side of I-70 could have fallen off the map and into obscurity. But it didn’t.
Voted one of the best small towns by the Smithsonian magazine in 2015, Boonville’s quirky charm and rich history (Murder! Ghosts! Civil War battles!) combined with a beautiful view of the river and a great arts scene makes for an interesting town with even more interesting stories.
And I want to write about them.
By the way – this blog is not run by the City of Boonville or any tourism website. I’m just that big of a Boonville nerd. If you want the real thing, you can check out Boonville’s actual tourism page here.