CC Road Trip & Car Show Report: A Middle Aged Man & His Elderly Van Cross Paths With Churchill, Grant, and Twain

Spring is upon us and summer is knocking on the door.  That means warm days, outside activities, and great weather for road trips.  For this particular trip, it was a 200+ mile journey.  Let’s go exploring!

Leaving the house bright and early, the old Ford van had a fresh oil change and plenty of fuel for the trip.  I contemplated taking the VW Passat, but realized the van had not really gone anywhere since late last year.

Getting onto US 50 East, I made my way toward the state capital building to access US 54 to head northeast toward Hannibal.

Crossing the Missouri River, I knew my trip was about two hours each way and an easy drive.  Entertaining the concept of this article, even though I have mentioned some of these places before (just never together), I decided to meander through a couple towns along the way.

First up was Fulton.  I’ve mentioned Fulton multiple times previously, and my appreciation for the town has grown considerably over the years.  While Fulton may seem like any other town of 12,600 residents, it has several distinctions other towns cannot claim.

Did you know the first mental health facility in the United States west of the Mississippi River is at Fulton?  It was established in 1847.  Also, in 1851 the Missouri General Assembly funded the Missouri School for the Deaf which is still in operation to this day.

Driving around I soon spotted this Oldsmobile.  It looked a bit forlorn but happy for the attention.

Up the street was this used car dealer.  He seems to specialize in Prii..and GM pickups.  There was a fourth Prius not captured in this picture; his inventory was down as I’ve seen up to ten Prii parked here.

Winston Churchill visited Fulton in 1946 and gave his infamous Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College, located near the center of town.

This church is on Westminster’s campus and houses the Churchill Museum in the basement.  The museum is a deep dive into Churchill and features numerous original paintings by the Prime Minister.  The church above the museum was first erected in London in 1677 and sustained heavy damage during World War II.  It was deconstructed in the 1960s and relocated to Fulton.

This is a picture found online.  The church is currently enveloped by scaffolding for maintenance purposes.

The museum also has a large section of the Berlin Wall on display, barely seen on the left edge of this picture.

Downtown I found this VW.

I also found this very yellow Dodge Dart Demon.

Heading further east on US 54 brought me to the town of Mexico, population 11,479.  Mexico is the county seat of Audrain County, the self-proclaimed “Biofuel Capital of Missouri”.

Mexico was formed in 1836 as New Mexico and was a stop for those headed to Texas.  The New was dropped after the US-Mexico War.

Grant in 1861, as per Wikipedia


During the US Civil War, General Ulysses Grant was briefly stationed in Mexico.  Grant was promoted to brigadier general while there.  Soon after his arrival, Grant learned of poor discipline among soldiers and their habit of entering homes of residents expecting food, drink, and whatever else.  Grant squashed this behavior.  In his memoirs, Grant stated after doing so “I received the most marked courtesy from the citizens of Mexico as long as I remained there.”

For those unfamiliar, Missouri never seceded from the Union and was claimed by both the Union and Confederacy.  In a sense Missouri was a microcosm of the nation, even seeing the creation of having a rogue state government.

Grant would later be stationed in the Missouri cities of Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau, where he led an attack against Confederate forces.  Grant then moved 30 miles southeast to Cairo, Illinois.  Grant was based in Cairo when he planned the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee.

Incidentally, Grant’s birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.  Realizing his initials were H.U.G., he started going by Ulysses Hiram soon before entering West Point.  However, the senator who nominated Grant for West Point bungled his name, using his mother’s maiden name of Simpson as a middle name, thus the origin of Ulysses S. Grant.  While at West Point, Grant was teased the U.S. stood for Uncle Sam and he was known there as Sam Grant.  It gets confusing.

For those outside the United States and unfamiliar with our history, Ulysses Grant would later become the 18th President of the United States.

But back to Mexico, a mere 30 miles from Paris.  It’s such a small world sometimes.  Oh, yeah, I also followed that Corvette for a few miles.

Going through Mexico, I found a location having a few goodies, such as this Chevrolet pickup.

This 1959 Chevrolet two-door sedan seemed ready to burst through its constraints.

These two old workhorses appear ready to haul.

One must always grab a picture of a Corvair, especially a ragtop.

This 2009 Ford pickup piqued my interest.  I have always liked this generation of F-150 and would enjoy having one.  This being a regular cab with a long bed also appealed to me.  The asking price of $3,000 was an enticement.

What was not an enticement, although a testament to their basic goodness, is the advertised 308,000 miles this unit has.

A few miles east of Mexico, I turned north on Missouri Route 19.  In the town of Ladonnia was this late 1970s Oldsmobile 98.

Further north, where Route 19 ends at US 61, is the town of New London.  An abandoned gas station had this equally abandoned 1956 Oldsmobile.

Elsewhere in town was this 1966 Pontiac Bonneville.

Being in active service with an upholstery shop was this 1960s era Chevrolet van.

The purpose of my trip was the annual car show in downtown Hannibal.  With Hannibal being where novelist Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) grew up, this area is permeated with all things Twain.  It is quite the vibrant business, particularly with international tourists, despite Clemens having died in 1910.

Seeing a 1968 Charger is always a great thing.

Hmm, something seems different here.

Under the hood resides a V10 from a Dodge Viper.  This Charger was awesome and undoubtedly lived up to its name.

“Duplicates” seemed to be the theme for the day.  While most duplicates were separated, these two 1963 Chevrolet Bel-Air wagons were presented in unison.

The white one has a three-speed manual.

It also had a cooler of Schlitz in the back.  My first taste of beer, at age 3, was Schlitz.  I vividly remember drinking it from my plastic baby cup.  The memory lingers as the taste was awful, which could explain my low affinity for beer.  I will drink beer but hard liquor is much better.

The red one had a Powerglide.

Keeping up the duplicate theme is this 1966 Pontiac Bonneville, the second one seen within an hour.

Directly across from the Bonneville was this 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Head-on, its relation to the same era Chevrolet Monte Carlo is inescapable.  To me, anyway.

A Corvair requires a picture.

Looking outback, something seemed out of place.

Out of place it was, since this Corvair has had a 283 cubic inch V8 placed amidships.

The air intake up front had this badge.  No doubt the work to perform the mid-engine conversion was a wheel bastard.

Every car has its one definitive color.  This is not that color for a 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

The 1970 Ford pickups, being an F-350 seen here, are my all-time favorite Ford pickups.  Yes, the grille is from 1971 or 1972, but it was presented as a 1970.

One generally doesn’t see a stock 1955 Ford Club Sedan anywhere, yet here is one of the few.

Lest anyone think there was nothing at the show from outside North America, think again.

Featured off to one side was this 1959 Chevrolet Ute, freshly imported from Brisbane by a resident of nearby Quincy, Illinois.  The locals kept calling it an El Camino.  There is so much misinformation at these shows it is staggering.

Even the owner referenced the Elky on his license plates to shut people up.

Also coming from the East is this 1987 Nissan 300ZX.  It was powered by a 3.0 V6.

The black one parked next to it is a 1985.  I have no pictures of it due to people being in the way.

This is the end of the non-North American segment.

Taking a brief detour, I found this mid-90’s Chrysler New Yorker parked nearby.

Returning to the show, I was greeted with a very patriotic Chevrolet Square Body.

A 1939 Plymouth.

This is likely the most interesting utility truck in the state.  The base 1971-ish GMC was treat enough but the utility bed really set this off in a good way.  It just needs stock wheels.

Seeing a 1974 “Dent Side” Ford F-100 is no longer a common occurrence and this one really pulled my trigger.

Over the last few weeks I have watched various Argentinian car videos.  This Argentinian Ford commercial from 1974 is what prompted it; this commercial is awesome.

Comparing what was in Argentina versus the US is great fun, such as the mid-80s “Bull Nose” F-100s with a 292 V8 (or 221 straight six), three-on-the-tree, and a single reservoir master cylinder.  I would recommend the YouTube channel “Old Timer” for more.

This 1948 Cadillac was stunning.

Black, with presence, and the last year for the flathead V8 in a Cadillac.

This 1977 Pontiac Firebird Formula was a gorgeous, one-owner car.

I spoke to the owner briefly.  He said Pontiac made few Formulas with both a 400 and a four-speed.  His Firebird has around 170,000 miles.

Likely due to color, this 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am presented itself entirely differently.  This one made me want to grow a mustache and drink Coors beer.

If the bed on this 1972 Chevrolet were only eighteen inches longer, this Cheyenne would be perfect.  Powered by a 400, this short-bed was a very nice example of what the General offered back in the day.

It was loaded (for the time) with air conditioning, tilt wheel, and bucket seats.

Another VW van for the day.

This 1954 Land Cruiser was the sole Studebaker for the day.

I will let these next several pictures speak for themselves.  These are all within eyeshot of each other, being part of the Mark Twain Museum that is spread out along Main Street, where this car show was held.

Clemens lived in this house for several years.

With our trip winding down, let’s take a quick cruise around town.  We’ll start at the riverfront.

This riverboat has been a fixture in Hannibal for years.  Mrs. Jason and I once rode on it for our wedding anniversary.

Two generations of Impala (with the ’67 being the target) along with a red Cruze and a yellow Cavalier.  These were found near the old Catholic Church that is rumored to be haunted.  Ghost tours are a lucrative cottage industry in Hannibal.

Found curbside, this is our second 1959 Chevrolet two-door sedan for the day.

A very clean 1982-ish Buick LeSabre.

Rockcliffe Mansion could easily have an article unto itself.

At 13,500 square feet and 30 rooms, this is not a small house.  For more pictures, here is their website; the mansion even has its own Wikipedia entry.

Like all things in life, this long nomadic journey must end.  What better way to do so than with a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad?