Any visit to the historic site should include a stop at the site’s visitor center and museum. It’s the best place to understand the details surrounding the Battle of Pilot Knob as well as other Civil War battles in Missouri and to gain perspective on the role each played in the conflict. The visitor center features displays, exhibits and audiovisual presentations that showcase the development of Arcadia Valley, Missouri in the Civil War and Gen. Price’s raid into Missouri in 1864. A fiber optic diorama and a model of the key battlefield structure interpret the Battle of Pilot Knob itself.
Artifacts help tell the story. Among the Civil War artifacts are Gen. Ewing’s field sword and the sword used by Capt. Pinckney Power, a Union soldier in the southern pit during the battle. Visitors will also see restorations and reproductions of Civil War-era rifles, infantry gear, cannons and other items that tell the story of the Battle of Pilot Knob. In addition to exhibits, the visitor center offers one of the largest research libraries, complete with microfilm capabilities, for information on Civil War military actions west of the Mississippi.
Free tours of the visitor center are given during operating hours, which are listed below. Special interpretive programs for large groups, including living histories of the life of soldiers, can be arranged by contacting site staff two weeks prior to arrival.
Ground was broken for the visitor center in 1991. Its facade is that of a Greek Revival memorial. It stands less than 100 yards east of the original Fort Davidson.
Inside the visitor center, several themes are interpreted, including:
The development of the Arcadia Valley
A 22-minute video program covers early settlement through the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The Battle of Pilot Knob
A fiber optic diorama display, permanent exhibits and a slide program focus on the days of Sept. 24 through Oct. 3, 1864. Click here to read the diorama script.
General Price's raid into Missouri in 1864
This exhibit broadly covers the sweeping scope of Price's raid from its purpose, development and planning through its retreat and the effects it had on the outcome of society, politics and the war.
A permanent display and model of the key battlefield structure interprets its reason for existence, its construction and its importance during the war as a hub of Union activities in Southeast Missouri.
Missouri in the Civil War
This broad theme describes the major battles fought in Missouri to add perspective for our audience.
The commanders, Gen. Price and Gen. Ewing
An exhibit outlines the characteristics and careers of the two opposing commanders.
The Missouri Civil War soldier
Permanent displays include that of the African-American soldier and highlight the clothing, gear, personal items, living conditions and societal conditions that soldiers endured during the war.
Local weapons and military items used during the Civil War
Displays of artifacts, restorations and reproductions of Civil War era rifles, infantry gear, cannonballs and other projectiles and cavalry items provide the audience with artifacts showing both commonly used weapons during the Civil War and weapons unique to the soldiers at Pilot Knob.
Pilot Knob after the battle
A display box covers the post war life of the Fort Davidson battlefield.
Battlefield artifacts from the area
Such as Gen. Ewing's field sword, Capt. Pinckney Power's sword and the locally renowned Allers Collection
Examples of the common flags used in the Trans-Mississippi theatre of war.
In addition to the exhibits, you will find a variety of Civil War souvenirs, books, compact disks and tapes. Books kept in stock largely deal with the Battle of Pilot Knob, Civil War Missouri, and the Trans-Mississippi theatre of war. Information about local history and the Arcadia Valley self-guided Civil War trail are available at the site.
- Summer Hours (On-Season)
April 16 through Nov. 30
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily (with the exception of Thanksgiving Day)
- Winter Hours (Off-Season)
Dec. 1 through April 15
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (with the exception of New Year's and Christmas days).
Free tours are offered during these times.