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The state of MISSOURI , where the forest meets the prairie
and the Missouri River meets the Missouri River, has just
two significant cities. Dominant St Louis sits midway down its
eastern fringe; Kansas City is almost directly across on the
western border. The pair are linked by I-70, but there's not
much in between to warrant stopping off. In contrast, the south
features the beautiful hillsides, streams and ragged lakes of
the Ozark Mountains , as well as the booming country-and-western
town of Branson ; while in the east , small river towns such
as Hannibal and serene Ste Genevieve brighten the course of
the Missouri. The northwest , home of the Pony Express and
outlaw Jesse James, still strikes up images of frontier times.
Although the first French colonists honored the claims of local
Native Americans, such as the original Missouri, when the area
was sold to the US in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase,
the Indians were driven west by a great rush of settlers. In
the 1840s and 1850s immigrants from Germany and Ireland flooded
into eastern Missouri. Outnumbering their pro-slavery predecessors,
they swung the balance in favor of staying in the Union during
the Civil War. However, Confederate guerrilla forces attracted
considerable support among slave-owners in the west of the state.
Meanwhile Missouri, and St Louis in particular, was establishing
itself as an important gateway to the West. Today, the "
Show Me State " (so called because of the supposed skepticism
of the typical Missourian) retains a conservative air, particularly
in the rural areas.
The central corridor between St Louis and Kansas City is well
served by Greyhound ; the journey takes around six hours. Chicago
and Memphis are both five hours from St Louis. Infrequent Greyhound
buses run through the southeast, to Springfield and a few Ozark
towns, but you'll need a car to see the mountains and the river
towns in the north. St Louis (TWA's main hub) and Kansas City
have major airports . Daily Amtrak trains from Chicago run to
St Louis, from where direct connections can be made to Kansas
City, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Little Rock. For keen cyclists,
there's the popular Katy Trail , which stretches 230 miles from
St Charles to Clinton.
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