Published: Sept/Oct 2003

Before You Go
For more information, call the Missouri Department of Tourism, 1-800-519-4800 or visit online at For information on the trail, call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 1-800-334-6946 or visit
New Melle’s newly formed chamber of commerce can be reached at (636) 828-5600.
To receive Hermann’s en plein air workshop information, call Joey Los, Hermann Arts Council, (573) 486-5908. For Clinton workshop details, call Ann Kinyon at the chamber of commerce, (660) 885-8166.

Travel Assistance
Visit your nearest AAA service office for maps, TripTiks and TourBook guides.
Order travel materials online or use our online travel research tools.

Inspiring views
Art imitates
life as Katy Trail calls to artists

Katy Trail State Park stretches more than 200 miles across Missouri. Its beautiful scenery, especially in fall, inspires artists–such as Billyo O’Donnell (below) to capture the scenes on canvas. /Missouri Division of Tourism photo

(below) Photo courtesy Billyo O’Donnell

By Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer

Katy Trail State Park, which runs through 225 miles of rolling farmland and hugs the base of imposing cliffs along the Missouri River, not only draws cyclists and hikers, it inspires artists.

Plein Air Artists Along Missouri, a successor to Artists Along the Katy Trail, conducts plein air painting workshops in locations along the trail, as well as other Missouri towns. En plein air (än ple ner’) is French for “in the open air,” and allows artists to paint scenes outdoors, much like the Impressionists. A plein air workshop is coming up later this month.

Art shows– such as the Mosaics Festival in St. Charles–draw artists from around the country, while other events–including Boonville County Art Show–feature local artists.

In addition, many towns on or near the trail have art exhibits and galleries. Here are a few of the upcoming events, exhibits and artistic attractions along the Katy Trail.

Workshops in Clinton

Clinton, the westernmost destination on the trail, has an historic main street with several restored buildings. The 1886 Anheuser-Busch distribution center houses the Henry County Museum. The museum complex includes a re-created village of the late 1800s with original facades and interiors, as well as an art gallery featuring artists Louis and Elsie Freund.

Missouri artist, Billyo O'Donnell, has been instrumental in planning events for Artists Along Missouri. He will give a three-day plein air workshop for 20 participants–inexperienced to accomplished painters–on Sept. 12–14.

Fans of American Indian arts and crafts will want to visit the Northern Cherokee Trading Post five miles east of town, site of the Northern Cherokee Powwow on Sept. 12–14.

Paintings and historic
buildings in Sedalia

The Katy Trail winds through Sedalia, which began as a frontier town in 1860 and boomed when the Pacific Railroad arrived a year later.

Sedalia has an historic district with Missouri's first Carnegie Library, antique shops and other stores. Nearby Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site preserves a massive stone lodge built from 1897–1928 by Sedalia attorney John H. Bothwell.

The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a variety of exhibits, including paintings by Chicago artist Michiko Itatani Sept. 27–Jan. 25.

Galleries and historic homes in Rocheport

The trail also runs through the pleasant town of Rocheport, which was founded in 1825. The trail here is noteworthy for its picturesque bluffs along the Missouri and for the only tunnel built in 1893 on the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.

Rocheport welcomes visitors with antique shops, restaurants and Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery. Several galleries, featuring regional artists, display paintings of the Katy Trail.

Columbia overflows with art

Riley Colvin creates a piece of pottery in downtown Columbia during the city’s Festival of the Arts. Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, not only is a political center but an artistic hub. Jefferson Landing State Historic Site is home to art venues such as the Elizabeth Rozier Gallery. /Missouri Division of Tourism photos
Although not on the main trail, the MKT Spur Trail leads to the university town of Columbia. The Heritage Festival, a living-history event Sept. 20 and 21, will feature artisans in 19th-century dress and a large contemporary craft area.

The Columbia Festival of the Arts, Sept. 27 and 28, will include 50 local and regional artists who will display and sell their work.

The town has a large number of galleries, some of which exhibit works by Missouri artists and crafts people. The State Historical Society of Missouri Gallery on the University of Missouri campus has a permanent display of works by George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton, as well as paintings and prints by Missouri artists.

In addition, the Columbia Art League will sponsor several exhibitions and shows: “Poetic Expressions,” Sept. 16–Nov. 14; “Sparkling Arts,” the annual holiday show and sale, Nov. 18–Jan. 2; and the 44th Annual Boone County Art Show, Sept. 27 and 28 at Boone County National Bank.

Missouri’s capitol is
an artistic showcase

Missouri's state capitol in Jefferson City, in addition to being architecturally interesting, is a showcase for stained glass, murals, carvings and statuary. Guided tours of the building, including the Thomas Hart Benton mural in the House of Representatives lounge, are available.

Jefferson Landing State Historic Site, a block away, includes the Elizabeth Rozier Gallery in the historic Union Hotel. The gallery has several exhibits coming up this fall, including Kurt Perschke, “Red Ball Photographs” in September.

The Katy Trail runs just north of Jefferson City, but a spur runs into the city.

Studios and workshops
in Hermann

Across the river from the McKittrick trailhead, the town of Hermann–founded by German settlers in 1836–is known for its wineries, art galleries, shops, historic sites and festivals. The Deutschheim State Historic Site provides a look into a German settler’s life.

Hermann’s Octoberfest will run the first four weekends in October. On Oct. 18 and 19, an artists’ studio tour will be offered.
Artists Along Missouri will conduct a plein air workshop on May 27–30, 2004.

Festivals and galleries
in Washington

Washington, also across the river from the trail, is an old Missouri riverboat landing with historic brick buildings near the river. It was officially founded in 1839, but followers of Daniel Boone settled in the area as early as 1799. Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery camped herein 1804.

Washington will host a Fall Festival of the Arts and Crafts Sept. 27 and 28 featuring pottery, jewelry, wood sculpture and paintings. The town has several art galleries where Missouri artists create and display their works, including the Gary Lucy Gallery with his Lewis and Clark and inland waterways series of paintings and prints.

Augusta and New Melle Augusta, another German town known for its wineries, is also on the trail. It hosts a fall festival Sept. 21 and 22 that will include antique quilt displays.

Augusta has interesting historic buildings, several galleries, shops, eateries and a microbrewery to explore.

Even little New Melle is getting into the act with a kickoff for Mainstreet New Melle at a cocktail reception Sept. 12 at the New Melle Lakes Golf Course, where several artists will exhibit their works Sept. 12 and 13. The celebration also includes a quilt show Sept. 13.

New Melle, settled in 1839 by immigrants from the area of Melle, Germany, has launched a project to commission the sculpting and casting of a bronze immigrant statue based partly on a statue in Melle.

In nearby Defiance, Boonesfield Village displays a life-size sculpture of Daniel Boone carved of linden wood by Defiance artist Charles Browning. Pioneer Days Sept. 27 and 28 will feature costumed artisans demonstrating period crafts.

St. Charles

The Katy Trail’s eastern terminus is St. Charles, founded by French Canadians in 1769. The city has a well-developed historic district with numerous galleries, antique shops and restaurants. History buffs know the city’s rich collection of Lewis and Clark lore.

St. Charles will host a major art festival, Mosaics, Sept. 12–14, featuring artists from across the country, along North Main Street.

Whether you like to cycle or walk the Katy Trail, make time to enjoy works created by regional and national artists who have been inspired by Missouri’s great natural beauty and history. With all the events and exhibits, there should be something for every taste.

Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.

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