Pilot Grove Small town with big heart

barn block near pilot grovePilot Grove dates back to about 1820, when settlers first made their homes near what was then an isolated grove atop a hillock on an otherwise treeless prairie west and south of Boonville. Other pioneers used the grove of trees as a landmark on their trip west and named the grove Pilot Grove. The settlers who built on a creek southwest of the grove named the original town Mount Vernon. However about 50 years later when workers laid the track for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad they missed the town by about a mile. The settlers moved their town to a new location on the railroad and it became known as Pilot Grove.

Pilot Grove is now a favorite stopping point for people using the 237-mile long Katy Trail State Park which follows the path of the original railroad. The Pilot Grove trail head sits at mile marker 176.4. Camping, restrooms, water and parking are available near the trail head. Campers are asked to call ahead to the Pilot Grove Police Department (660-834-4300) if they want to camp at the trail head.

Pilot Grove has three lovely old homes - Burwood, Chestmead and Pleasant Green Plantation Home - which offer tours on a limited basis. The Cooper County Historical Society Research Center is located at 111 Roe. St.

Pilot Grove is the home of the Pilot Grove Range Riders Rodeo each July.

For more information about Pilot Grove, visit www.pilotgrovemo.org.