Crawford County is a county located in the state of Missouri, United States. It was officially established on January 23, 1829, and named after William H. Crawford, who was a U.S. Senator from Georgia and later served as Secretary of the Treasury. The county was primarily inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Osage, Delaware, and Shawnee, prior to the arrival of European settlers.
The early history of Crawford County is intertwined with the westward expansion and the development of transportation routes. In the early 19th century, the county was part of the Missouri Territory and attracted settlers looking for new opportunities. The region was known for its rich natural resources, including timber, lead, and iron ore.
The town of Steelville, located in Crawford County, played a significant role in the county's history. It was established in 1836 and became a center for iron production. The Iron Mountain Railroad, completed in 1858, connected Steelville to St. Louis and facilitated the transportation of iron ore and other goods.
During the American Civil War, Crawford County experienced its share of conflict. Although the county was officially part of the Union, it witnessed both Union and Confederate sympathizers. Guerrilla warfare and skirmishes occurred in the area, with notable incidents such as the Battle of Pilot Knob in 1864.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Crawford County saw the rise of several small communities and the growth of agriculture. Farming, particularly dairy farming, became an important industry. The county also witnessed the construction of Route 66, a famous U.S. highway that connected Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. This brought increased traffic and economic activity to the county.
Today, Crawford County is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and historical attractions. It offers opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping. Visitors can explore the Meramec Spring Park, which features a large spring and offers recreational activities. The area also has several historical sites, including the Steelville Historic District and the Old Courthouse Museum in Steelville, which showcase the county's heritage.
In summary, Crawford County has a rich history tied to westward expansion, the development of transportation routes, natural resource extraction, and the impact of the Civil War. Today, it offers a blend of natural beauty and historical charm for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Top Tourist Attractions
Crawford County offers a range of attractions for visitors to explore. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the county:
- Meramec Caverns: Located near Sullivan, Meramec Caverns is one of the largest and most popular cave systems in the state. Guided tours take visitors through stunning underground formations and provide insight into the history and geology of the caverns.
- Onondaga Cave State Park: Situated in Leasburg, this state park is home to Onondaga Cave, another impressive cave system. Visitors can take guided tours of the cave, which features intricate rock formations. The park also offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities.
- Huzzah Conservation Area: This scenic conservation area covers over 6,000 acres and is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, and camping. The Huzzah Creek, a popular spot for floating and canoeing, runs through the area.
- Steelville Historic District: The town of Steelville has a charming historic district that showcases its rich heritage. Visitors can explore the beautifully preserved buildings, including the Old Courthouse Museum, which offers exhibits on local history. The district also features art galleries, antique shops, and quaint cafes.
- Indian Trail Conservation Area: Located near Bourbon, this conservation area spans around 1,000 acres and offers various recreational activities. It has several hiking trails that wind through diverse habitats, providing opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
- Riverside Wildlife Center: Situated in Cuba, this wildlife center is home to a variety of animals, including big cats, monkeys, reptiles, and birds. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the animals and their conservation.
- Crawford County Historical Society Museum: Located in Steelville, this museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that highlight the county's history. It offers a glimpse into the region's past, including its Native American heritage, mining history, and the impact of Route 66.
- Maramec Spring Park: Situated near St. James, this park is centered around a large spring that produces millions of gallons of crystal-clear water every day. The park features picnic areas, fishing spots, and hiking trails. It is particularly renowned for trout fishing, and visitors can witness trout feeding and learn about fish hatchery operations.
These attractions provide a diverse range of experiences, from exploring fascinating cave systems to immersing oneself in the county's history and enjoying outdoor activities. Whether you're interested in nature, history, or adventure, Crawford County has something to offer.
Crawford County experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by four distinct seasons. Here's an overview of the county's climate:
- Summers (June to August): Summers in Crawford County are typically warm and humid. Average daytime temperatures range from the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (around 29-33 degrees Celsius). It is not uncommon for temperatures to occasionally reach the upper 90s (around 35-37 degrees Celsius). Humidity levels can be relatively high during this time, and occasional thunderstorms are common.
- Autumns (September to November): Autumns in Crawford County are pleasant, with mild temperatures and changing foliage. September and October see average highs in the 70s (around 21-26 degrees Celsius), while November brings cooler temperatures with highs in the 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit (around 10-16 degrees Celsius). Nights become cooler as the season progresses.
- Winters (December to February): Winters in Crawford County are cold, although the severity of the cold can vary. Average daytime temperatures range from the 30s to low 40s Fahrenheit (around 1-6 degrees Celsius), with occasional colder spells and temperatures dropping below freezing. Snowfall is moderate, and the county typically sees a few significant snow events each winter.
- Springs (March to May): Springs in Crawford County bring a transition from winter to warmer weather. March and April can still have cool temperatures, with highs in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit (around 10-20 degrees Celsius). May sees milder conditions, with highs reaching the 70s (around 21-26 degrees Celsius). Spring can bring rainfall and occasional thunderstorms.
It's important to note that weather patterns can vary from year to year, and extreme events such as heatwaves, severe storms, or cold snaps can occur. It's advisable to check local weather forecasts for accurate and up-to-date information before planning any outdoor activities in Crawford County.
Crawford County is located in the central part of the state of Missouri, United States. Here are some key aspects of the county's geography:
- Location: Crawford County is situated in the Ozarks region of Missouri. It is part of the South Central Missouri Ozarks, known for its rugged terrain, forested hills, and scenic beauty. The county is located approximately 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis.
- Topography: The county's topography is characterized by rolling hills, valleys, and forested areas. The landscape features a mix of hardwood forests, open fields, and river valleys. Elevations in Crawford County range from around 500 feet (152 meters) to over 1,400 feet (427 meters) above sea level.
- Rivers and Streams: Several waterways flow through or near Crawford County. The most notable is the Meramec River, which runs through the county from east to west. The Meramec River offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and other recreational activities. Other smaller rivers and creeks, such as the Huzzah Creek and Courtois Creek, also flow through the county.
- Conservation Areas: Crawford County is home to several conservation areas and state parks that preserve its natural beauty. These areas include Onondaga Cave State Park, Huzzah Conservation Area, Indian Trail Conservation Area, and Maramec Spring Park. These spaces provide opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife observation.
- Forests and Wildlife: The county is known for its abundant forests, which primarily consist of oak, hickory, and pine trees. These forests support a diverse range of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrels, and various bird species. Hunting and wildlife watching are popular recreational activities in the area.
- Cave Systems: Crawford County is home to several notable cave systems. Meramec Caverns and Onondaga Cave are major attractions, offering guided tours to visitors who want to explore the underground wonders of the region.
Overall, Crawford County's geography showcases the beauty of the Ozarks with its rolling hills, wooded areas, and waterways. The county's natural features provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities and make it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.