“Helena occupies one of the prettiest situations on the river.”

One would hardly argue that point with author Mark Twain, who is widely regarded as an expert on the subject of the mighty Mississippi River. However, if Mr. Twain was alive today he just might have to add the river city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri to his list.

“Helena occupies one of the prettiest situations on the river.”

One would hardly argue that point with author Mark Twain, who is widely regarded as an expert on the subject of the mighty Mississippi River. However, if Mr. Twain was alive today he just might have to add the river city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri to his list.

A few weeks ago, Joyce and I met my brother, Mike, his wife, Elaine, and their daughter, Hayley, in The Cape for a weekend visit and “mini-vacation.” Over the years, I passed by Cape Girardeau on the bustling I-55 on my way to visit my brother and his family in Bismarck, Missouri and journeys with my college chums to see the St. Louis Cardinals in action.

Until this latest trip, I had never visited the banks of the Mississippi River from this historic city. To say the least the sights were almost breathtaking. Like many communities situated on the river, there is a lot of history there.

Cape Girardeau, a city of just under 40,000 people, is located approximately 115 miles southeast of St. Louis.

My first thought when I glimpsed at the city's riverfront was that this was Helena but on a much larger scale. A huge mural adorned the seawall and several historical interpretive panels dotted the landscape up and down the riverwalk. From the riverfront, you can catch a glimpse of the county's historic courthouse.

The riverfront street houses numerous antique shops and restaurants. Most of the buildings are occupied. The architecture of the buildings is almost identical to those that line Cherry Street. The two cities also have Civil War history in common. The Battle of Cape Girardeau took place less than three months before the Battle of Helena on April 26, 1863.

There are 39 sites in The Cape that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Helena has it topped with nearly 50 listings on the National Register. Cape Girardeau is slightly older than Helena having been incorporated in 1808. Helena was established in 1833.

Earlier this week, Helena's own Joe St. Columbia was re-appointed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to a 5-year term on the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. The MRPC is a multi-state organization that's primary objective is to preserve and enhance the scenic, historic and recreational aspects of the Mississippi River. The MRPC is made up of a group of commissioners from all of the states that border the river.

Helena-West Helena and Phillips County residents are very proud of Joe's representation on the MRPC during the past few years. At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Joe to visit Cape Girardeau either in his capacity as a MRPC commissioner or just as a vacationer. Hopefully, he could meet with representatives from The Cape on the MRPC as well as city officials.

Perhaps some of The Cape's successful strategies and endeavors could add to Helena's ongoing restoration and charm.