Lewis and Clark Historical Marker #19

Lewis and Clark Historical Marker #19 will be installed in downtown Hermann.

The Expedition passed the site of present-day Hermann on May 27th, 1804. During the day, in which they traveled 15.5 miles, they met canoes and rafts loaded with pelts, coming down from the Omaha, Pawnee, and Big Osage Nations.

History of Hermann

Click for Enlarged PhotoHermann, the seat of Gasconade County, is often referred to as “Rhineland on the Missouri” and the comparison is appropriate. Surrounded by hills and bluffs on three sides and the Missouri River on the north, there is a similarity to the Rhine River region in Germany.

Hermann was founded by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia in 1836. The society wanted to keep the customs and language of their homeland alive in their new country. They purchased 11,300 acres for $15,612 and the Society sold stock in the town. Professionals, laborers and craftsmen flocked to what was envisioned as the “German Athens of the West.”

Hermann was named for Germany’s national hero who had defeated the Romans in 9 A.D. The German Settlement Society had such an optimistic future planned for the town that they modeled the layout after Philadelphia, thinking that Hermann would one day become one of the largest cities in the country.

George Bayer, the man who had selected the site for Hermann, was appointed general manager of the colony. However, illness delayed his arrival and settlers who arrived before him blamed Bayer for everything that went wrong. After just six months in Hermann, Bayer was relieved of his duties and died the next winter. He was buried in disgrace in a remote corner of the town’s cemetery.

Click for Enlarged PhotoBy July 1, 1839, there were 450 residents of Hermann and they decided to separate from the Settlement Society. And, while the town never became a major city, those who made their home here worked hard to create a vital community. Wild grapes grew abundantly and became the foundation of the town’s wine industry.

George Husmann is considered the “father” of commercial grape growing in Missouri. He had success with the Norton and later introduced the Concord grape to Missouri. In the 1870s Husmann and other grape growers in Missouri helped to save the French vineyards by providing American stock to replace French vines that had been decimated by root louse.

As the 20th century began, Stone Hill Winery in Hermann was the third largest in the world. Then came prohibition and it would be many years before the wine business in Hermann came back to life. In the 1960s the Held family purchased Stone Hill Winery and rebuilt it into a thriving business. Now the small towns along the Missouri River between St. Charles and Jefferson City contain many wineries and vineyards. Visitors enjoy the scenic drive and the chance to sample the best that Missouri vintners have to offer.

Click for Enlarged PhotoAs for Hermann, it has become one of the most popular destinations for people looking for Gemutlichkeit - German hospitality. Festivals, such as Maifest and Octoberfest, draw thousands of visitors. Wineries, shops, and restaurants are housed in the town’s old brick buildings, many of which date to the 1800s. Hermann also has more bed and breakfast inns than any other city in Missouri. Each one offers its own unique architectural style and décor. The German culture is still strong here in a town whose streets are named for German writers and composers.

The riverfront park provides a River Access and river access to visitors. There is also a large shelter here. The improvements to the park are recent and most of them were privately funded. Amtrak stops here four times a day on its runs between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Deutschheim State Historic Site

Click for Enlarged PhotoThe culture and heritage of Hermann’s German settlers are celebrated at this site, which consists of two homes and outbuildings.

The Pommer-Gentner House (pictured) dates to 1840 and is an example of high-style German neoclassicism. A period garden and half-timbered barn, containing an exhibit of 19th century tools, are located behind the house. The Strehly House was built in stages from 1842 to 1869. At one time a printing company was located here.

Deutschheim provides a glimpse into German Americana life of 150 years ago.

Gasconade County Historical Society Archives

The Archives and Records Center is housed in the old Farmers Mercantile Bank building, which dates to 1909. The intent is to be a one-stop research facility for anyone interested in Gasconade County history and genealogy.

Historic Hermann German School Museum

The German School was built in 1871 and used for its intended purpose until 1955. Now used as a museum, it is home to the German Heritage Room, Children’s Room, River Room, Els Room, Needlework Corner and features the town clock mechanism which has been operating since 1890.

Museum 1894 and More

This museum is best known for its collection of guns, including models by Remington, Winchester, Savage, Stevens and others. The museum’s curator has been a gunsmith and collector for over forty years. Also on display here is a Story and Clark pump organ, antique tools, and a large collection of beam or cotton scales.

Show-Stopper Revue

The Show-Stopper Revue will celebrate its 14th season in 2003. The shows are an upbeat musical extravaganza that can be enjoyed by the entire family. It’s a touch of vaudeville with skits and excerpts from television, politics and Broadway. Matinee shows from May-October (call for schedule). The theatre is also used by the Hermann Community Theatre for other presentations.

Special Events

There are a number of special events that are held at certain times during the year.

Stone Hill Winery

Missouri’s largest winery stands high on a hill overlooking Hermann. The tour includes the spectacular underground cellars, carved out in the 1800s. Award-winning wines can be tasted and also enjoyed in Stone Hill’s Vintage 1847 Restaurant, housed in the former stable and carriage house.

OakGlenn Vineyards and Winery

OakGlenn is located east of Hermann on the site where George Husmann first planted his grape vines in 1859. Five rows of Husmann’s original Norton grapes have been replanted and a wide variety of wines are now being offered by OakGlenn. The site also includes a conference center.

Hermannhof Winery and Festhalle

Click for Enlarged PhotoThe stone wine cellars of Hermannhof and the wine building are on the National Register of Historic Places. Wines may be sampled and purchased here and visitors can enjoy lunch in the weinstube or picnic in the shade of the grape arbor.

Adam Puchta Winery

Click for Enlarged PhotoMost of the early wineries in the area were built on the family farm. The Adam Puchta Winery was started in 1839 when John Henry Puchta and his family came here from Bavaria. They planted vineyards, built a home, and erected a traditional arched cellar for the wine. Until prohibition was made law, the Puchta Winery was successful. In 1988 the sixth generation of Puchtas moved into the family home. The vineyards were replanted and the buildings restored. Visitors today can again enjoy award winning wines and see antique wine equipment.


Click for Enlarged PhotoFor a town of its size, Hermann has a vast selection of guest houses and bed and breakfasts.

Camping in Hermann

Hermann Riverfront Park and Access

Click for Enlarged PhotoThe Missouri Department of Conservation's river access at Riverfront Park in downtown Hermann includes a concrete boat ramp, privies (one disabled accessible), and bank fishing.

Local Information

Visitor information is available at the Chamber of Commerce building on Market Street. Provided here are maps, brochures, lodging assistance, a special event calendar, and information on area wineries.

Missouri River Communities Network
200 Old Highway 63 South, Columbia, MO 65201
Email: moriver@coin.org

All information checked for accuracy: July 2003