The Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation area are rich in Missouri Civil War History. The towns of Pilot Knob, Ironton and Arcadia were of strategic importance as the southern terminus of the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad. Union soldiers occupied Pilot Knob, the Arcadia Valley region and Black River area throughout the war. Fort Davidson, the target of the Battle of Pilot Knob in 1864, is a hexagonal earthwork constructed by the Union Army and stands 300 yards from the base of Pilot Knob Mountain. The assault on Fort Davidson by Confederate troops left 1,300 soldiers dead, missing or wounded. The fort and site are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. To read much more about the Battle of Pilot Knob and other interesting Missouri Civil War information regarding our region, please click here.
Fort Davidson State Historic Site serves as a memorial to those who gave their lives on the battlefield and the Visitor’s Center provides detailed information about the battle through the use of artifacts, a diorama, and film. Additionally, a self-guided driving tour around the towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob, directs visitors to some of the most significant points on the battlefields. Each stop is marked by a red granite monument. Maps for this tour are available at Fort Davidson State Historic Site. For a virtual tour and information about Missouri’s Fort Davidson State Historic site, click here.
Full-scale reenactments of the Battle of Pilot Knob are staged, attracting tens of thousands of spectators to the Valley. Be sure to make your plans now to attend the next reenactment in September 2020. Make your lodging reservations now.
The Iron County Courthouse, built in 1861, still bears the mark of a cannon ball fired on its roof during the battle. Both the courthouse and a gazebo on the lawn are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1861 Ulysses S. Grant received his commission as a Brigadier General at Ironton and a monument at the nearby Catholic church marks that location.