Battle of Athens State Historic Site

Quick Facts

Battle of Athens State Historic Site


(660) 877-3871

Map Directions

Things To Do


Battle of Athens State Historic Site interprets the northernmost Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River along with providing recreational opportunities. Some of the land and buildings included in the site were part of the once-thriving town of Athens. Located on the Des Moines River, 19th century Athens boasted about 50 businesses before the Civil War, including a large mill that produced flour, cornmeal, lumber, cotton and woolen goods. A large brick hotel, the St. Louis Hotel, was one of many other buildings on the Athens waterfront. Today, only a few structures remain. Col. David Moore occupied the town with his pro-Union forces from July 24 to Oct. 31, 1861. On Aug. 5, Moore's force of under 500 men repelled Col. Martin Green's pro-South State Guard of about 2,000 men, who were trying to rescue the town from Union occupation. Today, the historic site administers the remaining buildings in the town of Athens, including the Thome-Benning House, which was pierced by a cannonball during the battle. Exhibits and tours interpret the battle and the history of the town. The site also offers hiking trails, a lake for fishing, picnic sites, basic and electric campsites and more than a mile of frontage on the Des Moines River.

Map of Battle of Athens (MO)

Latitude, Longitude: 40.588537, -91.697903



  • Boating

    Access to the 10-acre lake with your boat or canoe is available at the gravel boat launch. Only electric trolling motors are allowed.

  • Camping

    Basic and electric campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is open April through November. Water is available in the campground during the on-season (April through October). Campers planning to carry in firewood must comply with current firewood advisories.

  • Fishing

    Anglers have been successful in recent years fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, redear sunfish and channel catfish.

  • Hiking

    Enjoy the natural features of the historic site on one of two hiking trails.

  • Historic Sites

    The site encompasses much of the former town of Athens. Several buildings have been preserved and restored. First, is the Thome-Benning house, locally known as "the Cannonball House," which still exhibits two holes made through the kitchen walls by a cannonball during the battle. Visitors can tour the house, visit the Thome mill ruins, and participate in guided tours.

  • Picnicking

    If you wish to picnic, you can choose from three picnic areas. The picnic area located in the historic area of the site offers a picnic shelter. The shelter is available for daily use and is reservable. Restrooms, a grill and a kitchen are available. Fees are charged to reserve the shelter. The second picnic area is located in the day-use area and is open from April to November. Picnic tables and small grills are available. The picnic sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The third picnicking location is next to the lake and is open from April to November. There are a few picnic tables and grills available for use. A playground sits alongside some picnic sites in the day-use area.


The site is open year-round, however hours are shorter during the winter months of November to March, when open hours are when the sun is up. At the same time, the historic site office isn't staffed regularly. During December to March, the campgrounds are closed completely. Best visits are during the summer and early fall!



From Jefferson City Travel north on U.S. Hwy. 63 to Lancaster. Take U.S. Hwy. 136 east to Kahoka. Travel north on Hwy. 81 for ten miles then turn right/east onto Route CC and continue four miles to the historic site.

From Kansas City Travel north on I-35 to Exit 54/U.S. Hwy. 36. Take U.S. Hwy. 36 east to Macon. Take U.S. Hwy. 63 north to Lancaster; turn right/east onto U.S. Hwy. 136. At Kahoka, take Hwy. 81 north for ten miles then turn right/east onto Route CC. Continue four miles to the historic site.

From Iowa Take Hwy. 2 to Hwy. 81 south and continue six miles before turning east onto Route CC. Continue four miles to the historic site.

Phone Numbers


(660) 877-3871