|Stoddard County visitors have an opportunity to see the Bootheel Region as it used to be. Early visitors marveled at the vast swampland and the variety of wildlife. Father Membre reported in 1861 the "the fields are full of all kinds of game, wild cattle, stag, does, turkeys, partridge, parrots, quail, woodcocks, wild pigeons and ring doves".
A visit to Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is reminiscent of Father Membre's visit. The, 21,676 acre refuge preserves a remnant of the vast swampland that once covered most of the Bootheel. A visitor's center is open year round, located 1.5 miles north of Puxico on Highway 51. The refuge is open for hiking, canoeing, fishing and nature study during daylight hours from March 15 through September 30. Limited picnic facilities are also available. During the remainder of the year, visitors should stop at the refuge headquarters before venturing into the refuge. A visit to the refuge should begin with a tour of the new visitors center overlooking Rockhouse Marsh.
The Duck Creek Wildlife Management Area provides some excellent fishing and hunting opportunities. Waterfowl hunting is available and some of the best bluegill and bass fishing in the state can be found here. The 6,190 acre area is located north of Puxico on Highway 51.
Otter slough Conservation Area is located southwest of Dexter of Highway ZZ. This 4,866-acre conservation area is managed primarily for species associated with wetlands, such as migratory waterfowl, mink, otter herons, egrets and many kinds of shore birds. Open marsh areas provide natural seeds, tubers and invertebrates, all important waterfowl foods.
The Bloomfield City Park contains two log cabins built in 1833 by Morton Barnett in what was the swampland near Clines Island. These rare and well-preserved survivors of pioneer days in the Bootheel were moved to the park for public display. Built of hand-hewn poplar logs, one stands two stories high with a dog run through the center. The second log cabin is a one-story structure. Bloomfield is also the birthplace of the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes. The Stars and Stripes Museum is headquartered south of Bloomfield. Visitors can tour the Stoddard Museum; see the historical marker of the first county court; and also the current Stoddard County courthouse, which is on the National Historic Register.
Dexter , the largest city in Stoddard County, has several parks and a 12-acre fishing lake. "The Heritage House", one of the oldest houses in Dexter, is located on a site adjacent to the lake. Also, available for tours is the Heritage Museum and the Heritage Caboose. Seasonally, Dexter is well known for the outstanding Christmas decorations at the Hickory Log Rib Restaurant.
In Puxico, visitors can see the only log cabin library still in use in the continental states. Built with WPA labor, the building is on the State Historical Register and will soon be on the National Register. Railroad history abounds in Stoddard County and the old depot in Puxico has been turned into the Senior Nutrition Center, Puxico has a caboose for visitors to see. Friends and visitors gather in August for Puxico's annual Homecoming.
In Bernie, Bloomfield and Dexter, visitors can see murals painted on the sides of buildings depicting the history of the area. For additional information, contact the Dexter Chamber of Commerce at (573) 624-7458 or 1-800-332-8857.