Tourism promotion is a part of the Commission’s Economic Development Program. The Commission has developed a number of Region-wide tourism brochures, among which are Historic Treasures of the Southeast Missouri Region; The Civil War in the Southeast Missouri Region; The Trail of Tears in the Southeast Missouri Region; and Trails in the Southeast Missouri Region. The Civil War and Trail of Tears brochures have each been reprinted several times. Additionally, the Tombstone Tours booklet, available by contacting the RPC, is in its second edition. All of these brochures have been distributed widely across the United States and requests have been filled from around the world. Approximately 8% to 10% of the area’s revenue and/or jobs fall into the realm of tourism. In 1992, the Regional Planning Commission received an award from the Missouri Division of Tourism for the most effective use of cooperative marketing funds.
The Commission also works with local communities, counties and tourism groups in development of promotional items. Most recently, the Commission assisted a tourism group in Bollinger County and another in the Arcadia Valley in developing their tourism pieces.
Surprising Southeast Missouri
Southeast Missouri may be a lot more than you expected. Delicately preserved river towns and quaint country villages charm guests with turn-of-the-century architecture, antique shops, and historic sites. Majestic, wooded bluffs tower above the Mississippi River in this picturesque section of Missouri. Here gently rolling countryside dips into valleys, while sparkling creeks meander through fertile farmland.
The charm of the Southeast Missouri Region developed nearly 300 years ago when the first French settlers came to Ste. Genevieve and founded a permanent settlement on the west banks of the Mississippi River. Today, this colonial village features roughly 50 historic buildings built in the French Creole style, and many are open for tours. Sample wines at local wineries then stay over at one of the charming bed and breakfast inns sprinkled throughout the town.
For an authentic mining experience, head for the old Bonne Terre Mine, selected by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the top 10 adventures in the world. Explore caverns larger than the town of Bonne Terre itself, or scuba dive in the mine's billion-gallon underground lake. Learn about the mining heritage of the Region at the Missouri Mines State Historic Site. At Fort Davidson, the ghosts of Civil War soldiers spring to life during reenactments of the Battle of Pilot Knob. Explorer the historic houses and churches of Iron County. Many are listed in the National Historic Register. A little further south, explore Taum Sauk Mountain, crowned by Mina Sauk Falls, the states tallest waterfall.
Follow a paved pine-sweet forest trail first trod by Indian moccasins in Millstream Gardens State Forest for breathtaking views of the St. Francis River cascading through boulder strewn shut-ins. Cradled between stands of pine, this stretch of the river provides a spectacular setting for the Missouri Whitewater Races each spring.
A ride on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway in Jackson offers an excellent view of the countryside. Reflect on the journey taken by the Cherokee Indians at Trail of Tears State Park, featuring a visitor center and nearly 3,500 acres of hardwood forests and Mississippi River bluffs. Near Jackson is Bollinger Mill, a four-story grist mill and covered bridge perfect for scrapbook photos.
Perched on the Mississippi River banks is Cape Girardeau, where visitors stroll along the 500-foot long Missouri Wall of Fame Mural which depicts the area's heritage. The Cape River Heritage Museum and Old St. Vincent Church are also inspiring. Home to a bustling college campus, Cape Girardeau is an intriguing mix of historical charm and modern progress.
Further south, the new Bollinger County Museum of Natural History features historic exhibits, dinosaur fossils, and artifacts from a local dig. Also visit the restored Massey Log House with porches running the full width of the front and back of the house and a "dog-trot" down the middle, or plan an excursion to Duck Creek Wildlife Area. Duck Creek, and adjacent Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, have the largest area of hardwood swamp remaining in Missouri. Here otter play amid stands of cypress and tupelo while yellow-crowned night herons ply the shoreline in search of food.
Throughout the Region - in all seasons - fairs, festivals, historic events, concerts and parades celebrate the varied and colorful heritage of our people. You're invited to come and celebrate with us.