Back to Towns


LADDONIA, 39.2 m. (780 alt., 588 pop.), originated as a railroad camp in 1871, and was named for Amos Ladd, one of the founders of the town. Formerly the place was referred to as “Mutton Town” because herds of sheep awaiting shipment were often penned up in its streets.

Between Laddonia and Mexico, US 54 traverses an important part of Missouri’s celebrated saddle horse country, whose limestone soil is particularly adapted to bluegrass. Many Kentuckians settled here, and bred and trained horses, some of which achieved great fame. The first of these was C. T. Quisenberry’s Missouri Clay; then came Joseph Stanhope’s Royal Gold Dust, Robert Edmonston’s Artist, and Joseph

A.  Potts’ Artist Rose. International authorities may disagree on the greatest saddle horse of all time, but not Audrain Countians. They are convinced he was Rex McDonald, foaled in Callaway County, trained in Audrain County, and acclaimed world champion so many times that he was eventually barred from ring competition. Belle Beach, trained by Tom Bass, was not only champion high-school mare of the world, but is said to have been the greatest high-school horse in history. Bass, born a slave, was recognized as a horseman without peer. In his youth he worked around Mexico as a stable boy and hostler, but in his later life he and his famous mare were prominent in every major fair and horse show in America. Bass was invited to take Miss Rex, owned by a Colonel Fulton of Kansas City, to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, but refused because he was afraid to cross the ocean.