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Grand River Museum, Chillicothe, Missouri


Small town museums often don't get the props they should, located as they are away from the main tourism destinations and not usually attached to some well-known event.

Here's an example of one that should get more attention than it does: The Grand River Museum in Chillicothe, Missouri, the town that prides itself as being the home of sliced bread—about which you'll hear more later. The museum, run by the Grand River Historical Society, sees itself as "a time capsule using everyday objects and images to tell stories."

And what stories!

For example, the rise and fall of the Chillicothe Business College, once a large campus training office workers and managers for businesses all over the Midwest; its advertising signs lined the roadways for literally hundreds of miles around. The changes over time can be seen in the displays of different eras' business machines. Sadly, by the 1950s, its era was over.


Many other everyday objects tell their stories here, too: a familiar parking meter, a 4H project board of bird whistles, a mock-up town jail, and a wall hanging of the town's glories, and many more.


The railroads had a big role in Chillicothe's growth, and there's plenty of rail memorabilia on hand, including a steam whistle collection spotted by George G as our One-Clue Mystery this week.


Various trades have left their mark on the town and the museum, including printing and publishing, communications, milling and automotive.


But for Chillicothe, the big one is its claim to be the home of sliced bread. Not that no one had ever taken a knife to a loaf before, but it was in 1928 in Chillicothe that a machine sliced, wrapped and sealed a loaf of bread in its wrapper for sale. On July 7, 1928, the machine you see below, invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder, pushed out the first loaf of sliced, wrapped Kleen Maid bread and change the bread business forever—for better or for worse.



Moving on to the more domestic side of life, the museum has extensive, possibly even endless, displays of local stores and businesses, including medical offices and livery barns.


Plenty of home-style interiors, featuring quite a number of pianos and organs, are on display.



There's also quite a bit of kitchen and bath on display, of various eras. Note in the second picture, the fold-up bathtub with its own water heater.


Toys on display in a case and across several rooms, stereopticon viewer, housewares and some early TVs... as well as a local man's homemade car.


And for Saturday night memories of the '50s, there's always Miller's.


All in all, a museum not filled with famous objects or paintings, but with all the memories you could imagine of a not-so-typical small city.


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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