Named after the Nelson family who originally owned the property, the city of Nelson, Missouri, was planned out in 1887. Three years later, the town’s first census revealed a population of 383 people.

It seems that not much has happened in Nelson in the last 135 years or so; just people coming and going, working to support their families and raising their children in the peace and quiet of this small neighborly town.

Today, its population has dwindled down to 162, and the people here still hold on to the bucolic setting of their small town. Folks hang out at the local Lions Club and kids ride their bikes up and down the streets until the street lights come on. On Sundays nights, you can find some of the families out at the Stuckey’s on Eisenhower Highway, enjoying Dilly Bars from the Dairy Queen, or munching on some Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls while Dad fills up the tank for the week at the Fuel ‘N Treat.

For awhile there, it wasn’t this way at all, however. Unfortunately, the original Stuckey’s/Dairy Queen/ Fuel ‘N Treat hybrid was destroyed by fire on November 4, 2019. However, as many of you know Stuckey’s is quite a tenacious brand, and out of the ashes like the Phoenix, the store has since been rebuilt better than ever.

So, the next time you’re driving down I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, make a Stuckey’s stop here in Nelson and be sure to check out these things to see and do while you’re in the area:

Go to the Dogs 1: Old Drum

One thing you can say about Missourians, they sure do love their dogs. Take, for instance, the case of Charles Burden from nearby Warrensburg and his beloved hunting dog, Old Drum.

Image courtesy Visit Warrensburg.

On September 23, 1870, attorney George Graham Vest stood and addressed the Warrensburg, Missouri, court with a speech about the loyalty of dogs that was so eloquent and impassioned, it helped his client, Charles Burden, win his case against his brother-in-law and neighbor, Leonidas Hornsby.

Shortly after eight o’clock on the night of October 18, 1869, Hornsby’s young nephew had shot and killed Burden’s beloved hunting dog, Old Drum, and Burden wanted restitution for his loss. The case had gone to court three times before with little restitution for Burden and the death of his canine companion. However, for the final trial, Burden hired Vest to try the case, and thanks to his attorney’s ardent speech, Hornsby was ordered to pay Burden the sum of $50 (about $1150 nowadays).

In 1958, a statue of Old Drum created by well-known sculptor Reno Gastaldi was erected on the southeast corner of the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn in Warrensburg.  Today, you can still stop by and pay your respects to Old Drum as he stands there in bronze on all fours, tail lowered and head up. Below him on a concrete base is a bronze plaque of Vest’s speech that forever immortalized the words, “A man’s best friend is his dog.” (Hint: If you’re a dog lover, you might want to bring tissues.)

Go to the Dogs 2: Jim the Wonder Dog

Another example of Missourians’ love for dogs is the story of Jim the Wonder Dog.

Jim was a Llewellin setter born in 1925. The runt of the litter, the pup was considered too clumsy and homely, and was about to be put to sleep before he was bought for half the price of his siblings and given to avid hunter Sam Van Arsdale as a gag. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Jim turned out to be an exceptional hunting dog eventually tracking well over 5,000 birds and earning the title “The Hunting Dog of the Country” from Outdoor Life Magazine. However, that’s only half of Jim’s “wonder”ful story.

Image courtesy Friends of Jim.

You see, one particularly hot day while hunting with Jim, Mr. Van Arsdale wanted to stop and rest, so he said, “Let’s go over and rest a bit under that hickory tree”, at which point Jim ran over to the hickory tree. Sam wondered to himself if Jim really understood the difference between a hickory and chestnut, so he tested Jim. “Go to the walnut tree, Jim. Where’s the cedar tree, boy? Bring me that tin can over yonder.” Jim did as his master bid him both accurately and without hesitation.

Soon after, Jim was locating cars by make model and license plate and choosing between doctors and hardware salesmen and correctly predicting the outcome of baseball games and gender reveals. He could also follow commands in any language – even Morse Code.

Van Arsdale then took Jim out on the road. After performing at the  Kemmerer Hotel in Wyoming, the local paper dubbed the pup “The Wonder Dog” and the name stuck. Eventually the man and his best friend, would come back and settle down in Marshall at Van Arsdale’s Ruff Hotel.

In 1937, Jim the Wonder Dog would go to heaven, as all good dogs do. To honor his memory, Marshall built him a park in 1999. It was opened on May 1 of that year with the unveiling of a bronze statue of Jim sculpted by Columbia, Missouri, sculptor Andy Davis. It is located on the site where the Ruff Hotel once stood. Stop by, check out the museum, take a selfie, and pet Jim on the nose for luck before you head back out on the road to your next adventure.

Go Horse Around

Image courtesy Warm Springs Ranch.

Nestled on 300+ acres in the rolling hills of central Missouri, you’ll find the official breeding facility of the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales  – Warm Springs Ranch.

Built in 2008, the ranch features a mare/stallion and foaling barn, a veterinary lab and 10  breathtakingly beautiful pastures.

Here you learn all about the life of Clydesdales from foal to full-grown mare or stallion. You’ll also see firsthand what it takes  for each horse to make it to the big time of being a Budweiser Clydesdale.

Whether it’s a guided walking tour or a private VIP tour, Warm Springs Ranch offers a variety of ways for you to get to know their famous horses. You’ll also see a wide range of associated exhibits such as the 1903 beer wagon and the stylishly luxurious trailers that allow these famous horses to travel in real celebrity style.

While the kids are souvenir shopping, parents can complete their tour with a little taste of Budweiser, the beer that the horses made famous (or is it the beer that made the horses famous? It’s seems like that whole chicken/egg thing here.) For more information on tours and prices, visit the Warm Springs Ranch website here.

Go By Land, Water or Rail

Image courtesy Go Boonville.

The city of Boonville, Missouri,  got its start back in the early 1800s when Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone,  sons of pioneer Daniel Boone,  established their salt lick business near here and named the area after their famous father.  Soon after, the area became an important point for those heading West to hop on the Sante Fe Trail. Today, however, it’s a great place to hop off of nearby I-70 and eat, stay, play and explore, and a good place to start is at the new visitor’s center and River, Rails, and Trails Museum.

This very family-friendly museum showcases the main modes of transportation that early settlers and pioneers  relied on to get around. Here you’ll see a ½-scale replica of Lewis and Clark’s keelboat, a wagon that carried pioneers on their journey west, and lots of steamboat history  and railroad memorabilia.  There’s even a replica fort for kids to play in.

Once you’ve seen all you can of the museum, head over to the visitor’s center side where you’ll find plenty of Boonville souvenirs as well as brochures on other things to see and do in this quaint Missouri town and its surrounding area. For hours and other information, click here.

Go Make That Call

Located on the corner of Main Street and Trigg Avenue in an old bank that was built in 1907, the Mid-Missouri Museum of Independent Telephone Pioneers in Blackwater exhibits quite a collection of old telephones, switchboards, and other telephone memorabilia that will leave your Gen Z kids scratching their heads wondering how we ever survived. For extra fun, get them in the one of the phone booths for a selfie and tell them it’s a time machine.

Of course, there’s also some other great things to see while you’re in Blackwater, and you can find out what they are here at the Blackwater Preservation Society.

So, that’s just a handful of things you can see and do after you stop at Stuckey’s of Nelson. Believe us with all of the other things you can see and do around Missouri, you’ll understand how it got to be called the Show Me State.

From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, Pecan Pralines, and other road trip snacks to our comfy branded Stuckey’s hoodies, tees and other apparel, it’s not really a road trip unless you take Stuckey’s along for the ride. Stop by one of our Stuckey’s locations or get yours today only from stuckeys.com!

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