The Missouri State Penitentiary, located in Jefferson City, was once the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River. It opened in 1836 and closed in 2004.
Callaway County, Missouri has a rich and varied history that began long before the establishment of the county itself. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Osage and Missouri tribes. European explorers, including French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, ventured into the region in the late 17th century, but it was not until the 1803 Louisiana Purchase that the area came under American control.

Callaway County was officially established in 1820 and named after Captain James Callaway, who fought and died in the War of 1812. The county grew rapidly, attracting settlers due to its fertile land and access to the Missouri River. Agriculture became the primary industry, and the county quickly became known for its production of tobacco, corn, and wheat.

During the American Civil War, Callaway County was deeply divided. While some residents were sympathetic to the Union cause, others supported the Confederacy. The county witnessed several skirmishes and battles, including the notorious Burning of Callaway, in which a group of Union soldiers burned down the town of Fulton. After the war, the county slowly rebuilt its economy and community.

In the 20th century, Callaway County saw significant developments and growth. The construction of the Callaway Nuclear Generating Station near the town of Reform brought new jobs and economic opportunities to the area. The county also became a popular tourist destination, boasting attractions such as the William Woods University and the National Churchill Museum, which houses artifacts related to Winston Churchill. Today, Callaway County continues to thrive as a vibrant community, blending its rich history with modern advancements.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Callaway County, Missouri.

  • 1818: Callaway County is established in the Missouri Territory.
  • 1821: Missouri becomes a state, and Callaway County becomes part of the new state.
  • 1825: The city of Fulton is founded and becomes the county seat.
  • 1835: William Woods University is founded in Fulton.
  • 1861-1865: Callaway County experiences the effects of the American Civil War.
  • 1874: The first railroad reaches Callaway County, boosting economic development.
  • 1889: Westminster College is founded in Fulton.
  • 1946: Winston Churchill delivers his famous "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College.
  • 1993: The National Churchill Museum is established at Westminster College.
  • Present: Callaway County continues to grow and develop, with an emphasis on agriculture, education, and manufacturing.