Explore Kirksville - TravelStorys

Explore Kirksville

Sponsored by City of Kirksville

  • Location: Missouri
  • Travel Type: Walking
  • Trip Time: 2 hours
  • Language:

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Zac Burden, mayor of Kirksville Missouri, would like to welcome you to the Explore Kirksville Tour.

Like many cities and towns across the American interior, Kirksville was built by hardworking pioneers, many of them immigrants, who created the city with their far-seeing vision and lots of elbow grease.  One of these was Jesse Kirk, the town’s namesake. Legend has it that Kirk plied the town surveyors with a dinner of turkey and whiskey at his tavern in exchange for the naming of the town for him. Whether or not this beloved legend of ours is true, there’s no doubt that Kirk went on to earn his role as namesake, going on to become an important Kirksville business and civic leader as well as a kind and charitable citizen.

Kirk was one of a core of pioneers who planted the seeds of building and commerce here in Kirksville. Many of those who followed in his entrepreneurial footsteps went on to head vast business empires in a variety of industries, including farming, ranching, automobiles, real estate and more. On this tour, you’ll meet some of these colorful and far-seeing personalities at the places where they lived, worked and created.

Kirksville was also the scene of one of the most important Missouri battles of the American Civil War, and in this tour you’ll witness the courage and compassion of Kirksville’s citizens, who not only braved the battle but aided the wounded and literally buried the dead—both Union and rebel.

From Gothic revival to Egyptian revival to the International Style, you’ll find here a microcosm of the evolution of American architecture, including numerous buildings designed by Kirksville’s own acclaimed home-grown architect, Irwin Dunbar. Along the way you‘ll visit eighteen buildings on the National Register of Historic Places as well as a number of local historic landmarks important to Kirksville’s particular heritage.

Central to that heritage is Kirksville’s legacy as the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, the revolutionary treatment method developed by Kirksville’s pioneering physician, A. T. Still. On this tour you’ll discover how Still’s treatments helped to shape not only the future of modern medicine but, very literally, the physical city of Kirksville, as schools, hospitals, office buildings and hotels were constructed to keep up with the influx of doctors, students and patients who poured into Kirksville for osteopathic treatments—and still do.

Your tour route includes thirty-five sites that feature accompanying audio stories. As you near each of these sites, the stories will trigger automatically, but you can also choose to read the story or follow along with it. You’ll also find historic photographs to help you envision the heritage of each location. In addition to these audio stops, there are dozens of additional sites featured along the route with informational nuggets about the commercial and architectural history of each. Take some time to learn about the history, and also stop into the local shops, cafes and other businesses to meet the great people of Kirksville.

Tour Sponsors
This tour is brought to you by the City of Kirksville. It was made possible through an Historic Preservation Fund grant by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, through the State Historic Preservation Office of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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