• Looking up at the Gateway Arch


    National Expansion Memorial Missouri

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  • Due to the Industrial Rope Access Project at the Gateway Arch

    Visitors may enter the Arch at the south leg only. Tram rides to the top are still available, the observation deck at the top will have restrictions. Usual walking paths may be closed; please look for signage or a Ranger for walking directions.

Old Courthouse Exhibits & Video


While visiting the Old Courthouse, be sure to view the unique dioramas, which depict significant events in westward expansion and as examples of early National Park Service exhibit craftsmanship.

Then, step back into history, and learn of the growth of St. Louis from its French founding to the present. Three dioramas were produced by National Park Service museum technicians in 1940 as part of the first exhibits installed in the Old Courthouse. These dioramas, along with three more fabricated in the 1950s, were part of the exhibits on display at the Old Courthouse until the late 1970s.

In 1976, the Museum of Westward Expansion opened under the Arch, but the dioramas and other exhibits were not used in the new museum. All six of the dioramas, however, were kept on display at the Old Courthouse to depict significant events in westward expansion and as examples of early National Park Service exhibit craftsmanship.

The French Settlement
Settlement of the Upper Missouri
Settlement of the Southern Plains

Legacy of Courage: Dred Scott & the Quest for Freedom

In 1846, a slave named Dred Scott sued for his freedom at the St. Louis Courthouse. His case went to the Supreme Court, where the verdict set the stage for the Civil War. Today the Old Courthouse is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Legacy of Courage interprets the struggles for freedom that Dred Scott and his family experienced. The exhibit starts in the west hall and continues into the south Special Exhibit Gallery.

Slavery on Trial: The Dred Scott Decision

"Slavery on Trial" is a 17-minute film detailing the struggle for freedom of St. Louis slaves Dred and Harriet Scott, and the infamous Supreme Court decision of 1857 that declared that African Americans had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Free showings throughout the day.


Did You Know?

1843 letter

The Museum of Westward Expansion at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial contains over 150 quotes from diaries, journals, letters and speeches. The designers of the museum felt the actual words of nineteenth century pioneers were the most powerful way to tell their story. Click to learn more. More...