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The Eagle's Nest, Louisiana, MO

The Eagle’s Nest

A Jewel Along Mississippi River

I’m fairly sure you don’t need me to tell you that there are tens of thousands of little jewels waiting to be discovered as one travels this great country of ours.  And I think I pretty much knew that, too, even before we pursued this travel website.  Now that we’re into it a bit, it boggles the mind to find out how many incredibly interesting and easily accessible places there are to visit right here in the Midwest.

The Eagle's Nest in historic downtown Louisiana

We ran into one such place on a recent weekend in Missouri wine country.  We visited Rocheport, Missouri to participate in (and write about) the second annual Missouri River “Celebrate Spring” Wine Tour.  That wonderful experience is documented elsewhere on this site, so I won’t elaborate here.  However, the great surprise on this occasion came when we decided to break up the five-hour drive from our home in Peoria, Illinois by finding a place to stay somewhere in the middle.  After consulting my Missouri and Illinois roadmaps, Google, and a bed and breakfast book that Carol had lying around, we found Louisiana, Missouri, a small town on the Mississippi River.  We checked out the town’s website (www.louisiana-mo.com) and noticed a few B&B’s and a hotel from which to choose.  We also discovered that Louisiana is dotted with many small businesses featuring arts and artisans, something Carol and I find very appealing.  It wasn’t til later that we found out how that came to be.

Carol arranged for a one-night stay at a B&B that caught our attention, mostly because it’s associated with a winery. Yeah I know, what a surprise, right?  Well, here’s the clincher; the grapes from the winery come from the Rocheport area, a convenient coincidence just too appealing to pass by.  So it was that we discovered The Eagle’s Nest Winery, Inn and Bistro and came to know our hosts John and Karen Stoeckley.

We left home mid-morning on a Thursday in early April and after a leisurely two-hour drive, we arrived in time for a nice lunch at The Bistro, the café on the corner of the downtown block that houses the four buildings that make up The Eagle’s Nest.

John and Karen joined us for a cup of coffee after lunch.  It was during that conversation that we learned about the downtown Louisiana renaissance, a work in progress that is an effort to attract artists and artisans to this little river town, making it a destination for…well, frankly, folks like Carol and me.

John and Karen were instrumental in launching this endeavor, called The Provenance Project. Since its inception in 2000, more than 100 artists have been recruited.  John says “The project has taken on a life of its own now” and is actually called “50 Miles of Art,” taking in not only Louisiana but Clarksville and Hannibal as well.  There’s a tour that features over 40 galleries located in these three communities.  Among the myriad of unique shops and galleries, there are some true, American dying art crafts that can be witnessed first hand.  We were able to visit one of them that Thursday afternoon.

Resident artist Tom Hooper of ASL Pewter gives Dan a tour of his foundryCarol spotted ASL Pewter, an actual pewter foundry located in one of the historic buildings in downtown Louisiana.  We stopped in and found owner and artisan Tom Cooper on the phone, talking to a customer.  While we were looking around the shop, we were struck by the incredible variety of pewter items and we were fortunate that Tom, after his phone call ended, had time to give us an extensive tour which included the actual foundry in the back rooms of the store.  We learned that Tom and wife Pat were among the folks drawn to Louisiana by the 50 Miles of Art project and, in fact, the close relationship of all the downtown merchants is a tribute to their united effort to make Louisiana a destination worthy of a close look.  We’re very happy that we had the time to explore this unique consortium of artists that afternoon, and we were also quite taken by the numerous murals that grace the historic buildings throughout town, such as the one pictured below by John Stoeckley.

By mid afternoon, we were ready to check into our room, one of the nicest we've stayed in during our travels. Although there was a solarium room with a hot tub across the hall, we spent most of our time exploring this pretty little river town.

We had dinner at the Eagle’s Nest Bistro that evening as the staff transformed the café into a fine dining room -- white tablecloths and appropriate lighting.  On weekends, we’re told that the large dining room next door is also filled with hungry patrons and reservations are recommended.  We had a nice bottle of Buffalo Fort Norton, the Eagle's Nest Winery's signature dry red wine, and it was a good match with the outstanding entrées Chef Chris Fitchett prepared for us.  After dinner, John and Karen told us more about Louisiana, how they got there, and why they stayed.  John’s work as a corporate marketing director brought them to town in 1985, but he lost that position during a downturn six years later. The couple considered moving back to Chicago where the work environment was more diverse. Mural by John Stoeckley

It was then that they made the courageous decision to change careers. John, an accomplished artist, dreamed of pursuing his passion full time, and Karen had studied culinary arts at home and abroad and loved to entertain. At the time, there was no fine dining, winery or bed and breakfast in Louisiana, so they decided to provide them all. “The town was really struggling and it brought a breath of fresh air,” said Karen. At the same time, John would pursue the life of an artist, opening "Reflections of Missouri" to showcase his art. Because they knew the infrastructure existed in Louisiana, they created and began The Provenance Project.  John told us, “If we were going to stay, we wanted to make a difference.”  Clearly, they have.

We’re very happy to have found The Eagle’s Nest in this little jewel called Louisiana, Missouri.  Just goes to show you, there really are lots of “good life destinations” out there.  If you like a comfy stay, great food, fine arts and crafts, and a peaceful walk along the river, give this little town a try.

The Eagle’s Nest Winery, Inn & Bistro – 221 Georgia Street, Louisiana, MO 63353, (573) 754-9888; www.theeaglesnest-louisiana.com; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reflections of Missouri -- 107 S. 9th Street, Louisiana, MO 63353, (573) 754-6634; www.stoeckley.com; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ASL Pewter, 123 S. Third St., Louisiana, MO 63353, (573) 754-3435; www.aslpewter.com; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

During your visit -- Take a stroll through the Henry Lay Sculpture Park, a lovely setting just outside of Louisiana. The park is surrounded by meadows, rolling hills, lakes, fountains and streams and features a 40-minute walk takes you through “Story Woods.” Here, literature and artwork come to life through numerous sculptures in a natural setting, turning a dream into reality for Lay, an alumnus of Saint Louis University School of Law. The path also meanders through a working maple grove and a beautiful cemetery. For more information, phone Saint Louis University at (314) 977-MEET or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit www.bedandbreakfast.com for a comprehensive worldwide listing of bed and breakfasts, B&B homestays, country inns, urban bed and breakfasts, guest houses, lodges, cabins, historic hotels, small resorts, guest ranches, farmhouse accommodations, working farms, and ranch vacations. The site offers a wide variety of additional property information to enhance your inn travel experience and find the best B&B. BedandBreakfast.com has over 100,000 consumer reviews and over 50,000 property photos and videos, more than any other bed and breakfast listing site.


There are more than 20,000 B&Bs in the United States.  It’s time you discovered a better way to stay.

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