German Heritage Corridor Bills Seek to Celebrate Tradition

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An area that stretches from St. Louis more than halfway across the state to Chariton and Saline counties could be renamed German Heritage Corridor if two pieces of legislation make it law .

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, and Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Washington, both proposed bills in their respective chambers to create such a hallway in part to celebrate the abundance of German Americans who live in these parts of Missouri. . The region includes cities like St. Louis, Westphalia, Indian Grove, Washington, Dutzow, Munichberg, Arrow Rock and, of course, Hermann.

“If you look at the overwhelming settlements along the Missouri River and the counties we’re planning, it’s ridiculous how many of these small towns, like Hermann and Washington, have a significant German heritage that you see every day,” said Alferman.

These two bills came out of committee.

Alferman’s hometown of Hermann is one of the most notable German settlements in the state. It was founded by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia in 1836 for the area’s similarity to the Rhine region of Germany. It still organizes celebrations for many German holidays.

This focus on tradition and cultural heritage, according to Alferman, should create an incentive for tourism to parts of the state that may be overlooked by some.

“We’re going to be able to use this to build a coalition of all these little areas for a tourism corridor to attract not only a lot of Missouri residents, but also international tourism,” Alferman said. “There are a lot of German nationals who come here and tour the United States. They come to Hermann… to see how much of this German heritage is still preserved.

Alferman also said the proposal would cost the state nothing, as the establishment of the corridor will be managed entirely by private donations.

Representative Don Gosen, R-Ballwin
Representative Don Gosen, R-Ballwin

Rep. Don Gosen, R-Ballwin, is the chairman of the House German Caucus, which includes members of the House and Senate of German descent. He also grew up in Hermann and believes a greater emphasis on this type of tradition can have a positive impact on the state.

“It’s just something we overlook,” he said. “Missouri is one of the highest states in the country for German immigrants. If you look at a map of the Midwest, it was heavily populated by German immigrants… It’s a way to recognize that, to celebrate that heritage.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, noted that while creating the corridor had practical benefits, it also had traditional benefits.

“More than anything, it’s important to us to celebrate this rich tradition and it’s the kind of thing that can highlight an ancestry that so many Missourians share and are very proud of,” he said.