The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Day-trip - Nodaway County

  • Set amid the rolling fields and winding blacktops of northwest Missouri, Nodaway County offers a surprising number of day-trip options for rural dwellers and city folks alike.

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  • Set amid the rolling fields and winding blacktops of northwest Missouri, Nodaway County offers a surprising number of day-trip options for rural dwellers and city folks alike.
    Located less than an hour north of St. Joseph and about two hours from Kansas City on four-lane Highway 71, Maryville, the home of Northwest Missouri State University, serves as the county seat, and offers travelers a variety of dining and lodging choices.
    Maryville's "crown jewel," as the locals like to call it, is Mozingo Lake Park a few miles east of town. Comprising 3,000 acres of prairie and timber, the park's 1,000-acre Mozingo Lake offers perhaps the best fishing in the region. Mozingo also boasts an 18-hole golf course, cabins, tent and RV camping and numerous trails and picnic areas.
    A bit farther east on Highway 136 is historic Conception Abbey and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Dedicated in 1891, the church, with its soaring, landmark towers, became the first Basilica west of the Mississippi River in 1941.
    Established by Benedictine monks, the abbey is also home to Conception Seminary College and the Printery House, which uses traditional printing techniques to produce a large selection of greeting cards and inspirational publications available for sale in the abbey gift shop.
    Just across the highway from Conception is the convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, founded in 1874. The Sisters are noted for their bakery, which produces communion wafers for the Catholic Mass. Gift items for sale include Monastery Scents soaps and lotions, popcorn and handcrafted icons.
    Anglers who want a slightly more rugged experience than that offered at Mozingo will want to check out the Bilby Ranch Lake Conservation Area 14 miles west of Maryville on Highway 46. Carved out of the prairie by rancher J.S. Bilby, the land surrounding the lake once supported one of the largest livestock operations in the country until its closing in 1936.
    Today, the conservation area features a 110-acre main lake, several stocked ponds and 5,000 scenic, hunting-allowed acres. There is also a concrete boat ramp, a floating dock — both handicap accessible — and a primitive camping area.
    Back in Maryville, visitors will want to schedule time for walking over the Northwest Missouri State campus, which also serves as the Missouri State Arboretum.
    The beautifully landscaped grounds contain well over 100 species of trees and other flora. Three tree tails criss-cross the campus, and species are labeled for ready identification.
    No stop in Maryville is complete (especially for history and genealogy buffs) without a visit to the Nodaway County Historical Society Museum, which features memorabilia related to such local notables as self-help guru Dale Carnegie, novelist Homer Croy and Horace A. "Jimmy" Jones, the legendary horseman who was the primary trainer of Triple Crown-winner Citation.
    The museum's holdings include one of the biggest collections of racing artifacts from Calumet Farm, where Jones worked for years alongside his father, Ben A. Jones.
    Page 2 of 2 - Driving time
    1 hour, 26 minutes
    Nodaway County is straight north of Leavenworth on the Missouri side of the river. Take I-29 north through St. Joseph and then take U.S. 71 to Maryville.
    Not to miss
    • Mozingo Lake and golf course
    • Conception Abbey
    • Bilby Ranch Lake Conservation Area
    • Missouri State Arboretum
    • Nodaway County Historical Society Museum
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