Learning Cape Girardeau History Following the Mississippi River Tales Mural

Saturday, January 8, 2022

 

Learning Cape Girardeau History Following the Mississippi River Tales Mural

Mississippi River Tales Mural Unfolds Cape Girardeau, Missouri History with 24 Brilliant Panels

A long weekend adventure in the Cape Girardeau, Missouri area offered us an opportunity to explore the Mississippi River Tales Mural and learn more about regional history. The brilliant 24-panel mural lays out significant elements from Cape Girardeau history right along the city's flood wall.

The brilliant Carolina Parakeet once inhabited parts of the Midwest including Missouri.
The brilliant Carolina Parakeet once inhabited parts of the Midwest including Missouri.

The mural begins depicting Missouri history from the very beginning of human history in the area. I learned about the Carolina Parakeet which is a brilliant bird that once populated the area and figures in prehistoric art. Sadly, the species is now extinct.

Lewis & Clark arrive in Cape Girardeau.
Lewis & Clark arrive in Cape Girardeau.

Lewis & Clark passed through Cape Girardeau during their travels. Lewis would meet Louis Lorimier, the founder of Cape Girardeau. During Lorimier's time, Cape Girardeau would grow under Spanish, French and eventually American governance. The arches featured in the mural including on the Lewis & Clark panel give the impression of looking through the flood wall to snippets throughout history.

The Trail of Tears marks a tragic period in US history.
The Trail of Tears marks a tragic period in US history.

The Trail of Tears is also depicted in the mural. This particularly devastating portion of American history unfolded in the Cape Girardeau region with 15 Cherokee, Chickasaw and Creek groups crossing just north of the Cape on their way to Oklahoma in 1838-1839. During the treacherous journey, about 4,000 Cherokee would die. This is a truly tragic portion of American history. The Trail of Tears is further remembered at the Trail of Tears State Park nearby in Illinois.

The Flood of 1927 devastated Cape Girardeau and so many other cities and towns along the Mississippi River.
The Flood of 1927 devastated Cape Girardeau and so many other cities and towns along the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River certainly was swelling during our visit and Cape Girardeau is no stranger to a flooding river. This particular section of the mural memorializes the flood of 1927 marking one of the worst natural disasters in US history.

Placards add additional detail about each panel of the Mississippi River Tales Mural.
Placards add additional detail about each panel of the Mississippi River Tales Mural.

Traveling along the mural through time beautifully unfolds the history of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Accompanying placards add context.

Chicago artist Thomas Melvin worked with local artists to craft the mural in 2005. Mississippi River Tales is an astounding 1,100 feet long. Adjacent to the mural is another series entitled the Missouri Wall of Fame full of Missouri greats. The murals provide a great way to learn a bit more about Cape Girardeau's history and culture. Additionally, the adjacent streets included several historic buildings as well as interesting shops and restaurants providing more to explore.


Mississippi River Tales Mural Unfolds Cape Girardeau, Missouri History with 24 Brilliant Panels




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