American Queen - Cape Girardeau, MO
What do Rush Limbaugh and Lewis Meriwether have in common? Cape Girardeau![end] While Lewis and Clark only spent one night here, Rush was born and raised along the western banks of the Mississippi. Cape Girardeau has a rich history lasting more than two hundred and fifty years. For a time, U.S. Grant used Cape Girardeau as his headquarters in the Civil War.

We landed in Cape Girardeau soon after sailing under the impressive Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. Several locals came out to greet the boat as we disembarked.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge

The main shopping in town is just steps from the boat, just past the richly decorated river wall. It was lunch time, so Rickee and I decided to walk around the "downtown" area, then have lunch at a local spot. Port Cape Girardeau is a local BBQ restaurant located in the same building used by Ulysses Grant for a while as his headquarters.

Port Cape Girardeau

After lunch, we boarded the Steamcoach to explore Cape Girardeau. Our first stop was the Red House Interpretive Center. The house commemorates the life of Cape Girardeau's founder, Louis Lorimier, and Lewis and Clark's visit to the community. Meriwether Lewis joined Lormier for dinner at the Red House in 1803.

The Red House Interpretive Center

We hopped back on the Steamcoach for a short ride to Glenn House. Built in 1833 for the daughter of one of Cape Girardeau's most influential citizens, Glenn House has been completely restored and exemplifies the lifestyle of successful middle class families in the 1800s.

Glenn House

Our next stop was the Cape River Heritage Museum. The museum is located in an old fire station that dates back to 1908. The museum features exhibits about events and people from southeast Missouri. One interesting exhibit describes how divided the state was over the issue of slavery prior to, and even after, the Civil War. The museum is well worth a visit.

Cape River Heritage Museum

Our final stop was the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau. This is located on Broadway, a street that is undergoing a major renovation in preparation for a new casino that will be opening soon. The CVB center has lots of great information, nice helpful people and complimentary Internet access.

Our Steamcoach returned us to the river murals wall near where the ship is landed. The murals in Cape Girardeau are the nicest we have seen so far and they tell a chronological history of the area. One section of mural wall highlights famous people born in Missouri or people who did famous things in Missouri. In total, the river wall murals span 1,100 feet and stretch the entire length of the downtown area. They are painted with a special paint imported from Germany that is supposed to be very durable.

River Wall Murals

We really enjoyed our short visit to Cape Girardeau and look forward to returning here in the future.

The great thing about a river cruise is the ability to see small towns that you might never see. There is no better way to see small town America than by river cruise.