Pike County, Missouri

"Unhurried... Unspoiled... Uncommon"

The little river town of Clarksville has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Clarksville is the southern anchor of one of America’s newest scenic byways - the Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road. A revitalized downtown business district that boasts being the only downtown business district in the state of Missouri that still faces the Mississippi River features antique shops, specialty shops, and shops occupied by working artisans practicing their traditional skills. Every winter the town becomes on of the prime eagle watching sites in the Middle Mississippi Valley.

Founded in 1817 by immigrants from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, the town is named after either George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero, or his younger brother, William, of the Lewis and Clark expedition fame. In the years up to 1879 Clarksville became a busy river port and was once called Appletown by the rivermen because so many apples were shipped from the town. The arrival of the railroad in 1879 shifted the economic emphasis from the river and Clarksville entered a golden age with many improvements being made to the town.

Like many small towns in rural America Clarksville’s economy began to deteriorate. In the late 1980’s a group of artists and businessmen began a project, Main Street Clarksville, to rehabilitate the downtown business district. Due to their efforts buildings were bought and rehabilitated, and the downtown area was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1991. Main Street Clarksville also made a conscience effort to attract unique businesses to the area that complemented each other and that offered goods that are distinctive, of high quality, and that visitors can’t get anywhere else. An active recruitment program during recent years has brought a number of creative people who have relocated to Clarksville and helped enlarge its artistic community. A walking tour of Clarksville booklet containing information about Clarksville historic buildings and churches is available in most shops.

In the winter of 2004, the Missouri Department of Conversation recognized the Clarksville area as the most outstanding locale for nature tourism in the state. Just north of Clarksville and located on the Mississippi Flyway is the Ted Shanks Conservation Area with 6,705 acres of wetlands that attracts waterfowl and other birds during the spring and fall migrations. This site features primitive camping, boat ramps, and a staffed office with nature exhibits. Adjacent to Clarksville’s riverfront is Lock and Dam #24 that attracts an abundance of bald eagles during the winter. The World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Missouri has called Clarksville "the eagle viewing capitol of the United States" and  visitors can easily spot bald eagles from Riverfront Park. Every January the town hosts its two day Eagle Days (photo left) with live eagle programs, spotting scopes, and a variety of other activities about our national symbol.

In addition to its location on the the Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road, Clarksville is also the anchor of a state scenic byway that starts just south of downtown and winds it way on Route W to Paynesville and then onto Route WW through Edgewood to US Highway 61. Cyclists can enjoy great views on a new 10-mile bike trail that parallels Route 79 and the Mississippi river between Clarksville and Louisiana. Clarksville is the setting for a number of annual events. In January visitors flock to the town’s two-day Eagle Days celebration that features live eagle programs, spotting scopes, and a variety of other activities about our national symbol. Applefest in October pays tribute to the roles apples played in its past and the semi-annual Studio and Gallery Tour has professional artists opening their studios, galleries, and retail spaces.

Clarksville is just 70 miles north of St. Louis along the Great River Road. The natural beauty of the area, the unique shops and artisans, the restored riverfront district, and its special events make Clarksville an ideal place to visit.

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