Maybe the Steamboat Museum Should Be On The River
By now you've probably heard the National Steamboat Museum wants to build at Marshall Junction. While I like the idea that Marshall Junction, the point where Interstate 70 intersects with Highway 65, could be developed. I'm not sold on it being a great location for the National Steamboat Museum.
I get it, the National Steamboat Museum is about bringing the collection of the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, and the boat itself, to the new site. And it's about excavating sunken steamboats that are currently buried under farm fields along the Missouri River.
So yeah, from a historical standpoint, you don't really need the River. People can certainly experience the history of steamboats on the Missouri River through exhibits. And obviously, as the museum grows, resurrects, and restores those sunken steamboats the river isn't necessary to show them off either. Except, isn't there a natural tie-in to the river? And wouldn't the museum be more enticing to the average person who doesn't know a lot about steamboats or the Missouri River if it were on the Missouri River? In a river town?
I get it, the people behind the museum, "private citizens from Saline, Lafayette, and Pettis counties", according to the National Steamboat Museum's website, are behind the museum. So obviously they want to place it in an area where it benefits Sedalia, Marshall, and the local economies of the towns and businesses in the area.
Last spring these private boosters hired a company to study the feasibility of putting the museum at Marshall Junction, and that company told the group that Marshall Junction met site analysis criteria, but also had the potential to bolster existing business and local tourism while creating new opportunities for complementary economic development.
I'm not an urban planning expert, but Marshall Junction isn't that close to Sedalia. And it's not that much closer to Marshall. In fact, google maps places Marshall Junction 12 miles from Marshall and 17 miles from Sedalia. I think it's asking a lot for people to drive 12 or 20 miles into Marshall or Sedalia to do other stuff, especially if your aim is to visit the National Steamboat Museum. And especially if hotels, restaurants, and more gas stations build around the museum.
I like the idea of a National Steamboat Museum and I like the idea of developing Marshall Junction. I just haven't bought into the idea that the National Steamboat Museum is the way to successfully do that.
If you're interested in learning more about the museum Senator Bill Souffer and Katie Shannon will be hosting a presentation on the National Steamboat Museum on Monday night March 28 at 7:00 PM in the council chambers at the Sedalia City Hall. The presentation is free and open to the public. The presentation is being hosted by the Pettis County Historical Society & the Sedalia Historic Preservation Commission.