Missouri highway signs to show Civil War sites

Saturday, April 2, 2011 | 4:47 p.m. CDT; updated 9:40 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 14, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri is making it easier for people to find its historic Civil War sites.

The Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will be making available highway signs to point out some of the historic sites. The signs have a red star set in a blue background with the years "1861-1865" written above the star. Surrounding that is a red circle and written on that is "Missouri Civil War." Communities and attractions would pay $35 to $3,000 for the Civil War signs.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reported that Civil War commission members say the sign program will help to unify the state's historic sites from the war. The commission also has developed a website that includes information about less-known historic sites and figures and a calendar of upcoming events. The Civil War commission intends to focus on Missouri's heritage, and the highway sign program is the panel's first overt activity.

"This program will be a way to unify the Civil War sites throughout the state," commission co-chairman J. Kent Emison said.

Conflicts took place throughout Missouri during the Civil War, and that makes it easy to overlook many of the significant historic sites. The state parks program started a Civil War marker program in 1992 that has placed 30 interpretive markers and plans more this spring. The highway signs will help people find the existing markers.

The Civil War commission plans to focus on more than just troop movements and Civil War battles. Because Missouri was a border state between the North and the South, the commission plants to highlight the experiences of the ordinary people living in the state during the war.

"For Missouri, the Civil War within the state was a microcosm of the larger Civil War across the nation," said Debra Greene, the co-founder of the commission and the head of the history, political science and philosophy department at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

The Missouri State Museum in May plans to open a Civil War exhibit that will fill an entire wing of the state Capitol. A June event is planned to remember the forming of a new state government after the Southern-sympathizing governor fled with the state seal.

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