Day 56 – History happens everywhere

Went to St Joseph today which is a medium sized town in Missouri. There is a surprising number of small museums and other activities in the town.

First we stopped at the St Joseph Museums which is a collection of several museums located in one building. They have exhibits in dolls, Native American artefacts in the area, African American history of the area and a section on civil war medicine. These exhibitions are small, but interesting and are pretty well presented.

The main part of the museum is the Glore Psychiatric Museum. The museum is located on the site of a psychiatric hospital which was operational from 1874 to the 1970s. The museum provides information on the treatment methods, rehabilitation strategies and general living conditions in the hospital. The museum is creepy. The hospital itself is unsettling and this is enhanced by the use of mannequins in the displays. Every time you turn around there is a mannequin watching you. Nonetheless the museum is very interesting and sensitively deals with the complex issue of mental illness and treatment.

We then went to the Pony Express National Museum, which is located on the site of the stables from which the first pony express rider was sent. The story if the pony express development and eventual termination is told at this museum. The pony express existed for only 18 months before being replaced with the telegraph, but has a significant impact on the American consciousness. It was cool to see the recreation if the first rider. The museum is small, but provides a good oversight of the pony express company and processes.

Finally we visited the Jesse James house which is the location of James’ death. The museum feels a little ghoulish as you look at the bullet hole in the wall. The museum is also very small, but does have a number of artefacts from James and his family.

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