Places to Visit
Central Missouri’s link to the eighteenth century art of meat curing. Located along the Moreau River, Burger’s Smokehouse is three miles south of California on a farm just off Highway 87. The Smokehouse is open weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The “Good Ole Days Theater” is open daily and offers visitors a glimpse of what goes on throughout the facility. Three museum-quality dioramas in the Visitors Center points out the importance of the changing seasons as they relate to the natural curing, drying, and aging of a properly prepared country cured ham.
Large groups are welcome. Just phone 1-800-705-2323 to provide the number in the group and time of arrival. A snack bar is located in the reception area adjacent to the Visitors Center. Soft drinks and smoked meat sandwiches are available.
The retail sales area provides a wide variety of cured and smoked meats and poultry.
Free catalogs are available on request.
Contact: Gerald Taylor Phone 1-800-705-2323.
A nine-hole golf course is located northwest of California on County Club Road. Available for visitors with payment of green fees during the week. Phone (573) 796-2089.
The California Shooters Club is located five miles east of California on Highway 50, then one mile south on a gravel road. Arrangements can be made for special events such as archery, trap, skeet and black powder rendezvous.
Contact: Russell Clennin (573) 796-2015.
Cargill Baseball Diamonds
Two new lighted ball diamonds have been added to the existing two diamonds for a total of four, and The California Lions Club installed dugout benches on each field. In addition, the entire complex has been fenced. Playground equipment and a flag pole have been added, bleachers and sound equipment have been added to each field, and concrete stairs have been added from the parking lot to the largest, primary field.
The Cultural Heritage Center, located at 201 North High Street, is a development by California Progress Inc. and the Moniteau County Historical Society. What was once the old Post Office is now a cultural center for the community and the county.
The center houses information and special exhibits on the history of Moniteau County, a library for genealogy research, public meeting rooms, an information center, and gift shop.
The outdoor area is landscaped and prepared for shows, demonstrations, and socials during the summer months. The meeting room and lawn are available for meetings and reunions.
Contact: 573-796-3563; email: [email protected]
Located west of California on Highway 50, Double X Speedway has dirt track auto races every Sunday night from mid-May through mid-September featuring street stock, sportmans, winged sprints, and hobby stocks.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m., races at 7:30 p.m. Grandstand Admission, $5.00. Ten and under free. Pit passes, $15.00.
Kyle Wirts, track owner.
Races promoted by the Sportsman Racing Association.
This fine old house located S Oak St in California was built in 1898 by Charles A. Eitzen at a cost of $30,000. The Architect was Oliver Sprouse, Blazer Bros. provided the stone masons and the Inmans were the bricklayers. It has 5 rooms on the first floor, 5 on the second and 4 rooms on the third. Nine fireplaces are in the house. Some of the large closets and pantries are now used as extra rooms, making a total of 19 rooms.The original slate roof is still in place. The outside walls are 22 inches thick and the inside ones are 14 inches. Iron fencing set in concrete and stone surround the grounds whichcover an entire block. A “widow’s walk” can be seen on the top.
Walter Eitzen, a son, lived in the house until 1952 when he moved to a new home on Rice Blvd. A carriage house and stable with a room above for the coachman is still standing adjacent to the house on the west side. It was strictly modern with steam heat and private water works.
The Eitzen House is currently a private residence.
Located at 315 North High Street in downtown California, MO, the opera house/theatre was built in 1885. The building was designed by Jerome Bibb “J.B.” Legg, a well-known St. Louis architect. Legg was also responsible for designing many Missouri courthouses, opera houses, theaters, churches, schools and public buildings and remodeled the Missouri state capital in 1887.
The Finke Theater was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the area of entertainment and recreation in 2004. The two-story brick building was California, MO’s only opera house and theater and therefore was the main entertainment center for the community.
From 1885-1897 it was known as the California Opera House and then the Finke Opera House from 1897-1922. While it was the opera house, the building was home to stage shows, plays, musical and school performances. Blind Boone played the piano at the opera house in 1893. Cole Younger, an associate of Jesse James, lectured at the opera house in 1909. From 1922-1937, it was known as Finke Theatre and featured vaudeville and motion pictures.
In 1937, it was renovated from its Victorian style to an art deco style and became known as the Ritz Theater, from 1937-1978. It is now known as Finke Theater since its opening for the 2009-10 season.
The Moniteau County Courthouse, built in 1867, replaced a 20-year-old brick building and is now one of the oldest courthouses in Missouri. Nearly all of the county’s business is still conducted inside this one building. The interesting semicircular front portico very closely resembles the same feature of the former State Capitol built in 1840. Note the square mounted abaci on top of the brick columns. The same features on the State Capitol were oriented in a curved line with the portico. Here the abaci are in line with the courthouse walls.The only major interior change over all the years has been the removal of one side of the double staircase. The courthouse is nearly unchanged from its original design and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The marker on the lawn describes the origin of our county’s name. The first floor contains two interesting museum displays by the Historical Society. One is a history of the county from pre-settlement, including natural features and Indians, to the days of early settlement. The other display describes the participation of Moniteau County servicemen in our nation’s wars.
The courthouse lawn and sidewalk is named “Heritage Square” and has been landscaped with tree plantings, benches, period lighting and brick sidewalks. The bricks in the sidewalks are engraved with the names of citizens, events, and organizations associated with Moniteau County. A granite paver has the engraved image of the Manito and names of Moniteau County towns.
Personalized bricks may be purchased through applications available at the courthouse. The funds received from the development of this “Heritage Square” are used to restore and landscape the courthouse. The Moniteau County Courthouse is located on the square in downtown California items pertaining to the county’s history are offered for sale including books, postcards, audio tapes, atlas, and cemetery records.
The Moniteau County Fair and Livestock Show began in 1866 and is the oldest continuous fair west of the Mississippi River. In addition to annual events such as the ham auction, livestock show, arts & crafts display, carnival rides and grandstand shows, there are numerous extra activities planned each year. The Moniteau County Fair is generally held during the first full week of August.
Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival
Held annually on the third Saturday in September, the Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival is considered one of the fastest growing festivals in mid-Missouri. The Ozark Ham & Turkey festival is a one-day festival designed to showcase two of the major industries in California and Moniteau County. Billed as having “something for everyone”, the Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival has activities throughout town. See the Ham & Turkey Festival section of this web site for more information.
The 1,455-acre Prairie Home Wildlife Area, located west of Jamestown near Prairie Home, is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation for multiple use. Hunting and fishing are the primary uses. Other activities may include mushroom hunting, nature study, primitive camping, and horseback riding on a designated trail. The Buckhorn Hiking Trail, an eight-mile circular trail, is developed for hikers.
Contact: Missouri Department of Conservation, 1907 Hillcrest, Columbia, MO 65201.
This stately mansion built in 1867 by Niles Rice, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located at 205 South Oak Street, California, the Victorian home has 12-foot ceilings, six-foot hallways, and 36 narrow seven-foot windows.
The Rice House is currently a private residence.
The 1954 endowment from Elia Wood Paegelow provided the funds for the first California public lending library. The library is now
located at 501 S. Oak Street. Individuals residing outside the California City Limits, pay a small out-of-tax-district annual fee to use this spacious modern library.
The library provides a complete children’s collection, subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, and adult fiction and non-fiction books. Selected works are available in large print books and audio books. Small video and Spanish language collections have been added as well. The library has computers, a copier, and a fax machine for public use. They regularly offer adult education classes, exhibits and programming for children.