Ten years ago, Missouri Life took a look back to what was happening in 1973 across our state, in the nation, and around the world. Take a trip back in time and remember when these things were happening as Missouri Life wrote about them in 2013.

Space station Skylab launched into orbit May 1973 from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It was destroyed returning to Earth six years later.


Space station Skylab launched into orbit May 1973 from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It was destroyed returning to Earth six years later.

MISSOURI LIFE magazine arrived on newsstands in 1973, an important year in the annals of history. While major historical events transformed the national landscape, Missouri Life examined threads of Show-Me State culture that persist today: obsessed Blues fans, hardy Joplin natives, murals at the state capitol, St. Louis architectural feats, and the bucolic majesty of Big Sugar Creek County, to name a few.

Times have changed, but the people and places that imbue this state with its distinct and enduring character remain. Rediscover the magazine’s inaugural year and the national and statewide events in 1973 that rippled through history in Missouri and beyond.

President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew work the crowd at a 1972 Republican National Convention. The Watergate scandal erupted in 1973 and would eventually cause them to vacate their positions.


SCANDAL dominated the headlines in 1973. The year began with President Richard Nixon’s inauguration for a second term, but the path diverted toward his 1974 resignation. The Watergate scandal resulted from the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. Criminal charges of tax evasion spurred the resig-

nation of then-Vice President Spiro Agnew, in 1973.

At home in Missouri, Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond took office January 8, 1973. At thirty-three years old, he was the youngest governor in the state’s history and would later serve in the United States Senate.

South Vietnamese tanks roll past a group of villagers on their way back to the base. The United States would end its operations in the war on March 29, 1973.

Also in 1973, the United States ended its involvement in the Vietnam War when the Paris Peace Accords were signed. Under the terms, the United States agreed to immediately halt military activities and with- draw military personnel within sixty days.

This April 1973 aerial photo shows south St. Louis homes submerged by River Des Peres overflow from the flooded Missouri River, the worst Missouri flood in more than two hundred years.

Headlines Across Missouri

DANGEROUS amounts of rain fell across the Mississippi River and the basins that feed into it during October 1972. The resulting floodwaters inundated bank-side communities along the Mississippi in a flood that would last seventy-two days and come to be known as the worst flood in the past two hundred years. March 31, 1973 marked peak flood levels in the river, which claimed six million acres south of St. Louis in early April.

In the St. Louis suburb of Overland, the National Personnel Records Center fire occurred on July 12, 1973. About 18 million official military personnel records were lost as a result of the fire.

The year 1973 also saw the beginnings of a successful entrepreneurial effort. At a rate of $10.88 per night, Lambert Drury and his family opened the first Drury Inn, located in Sikeston, Missouri. Today, the hotel system operates 130 hotels in twenty states.

Sports and Athletics

THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS opened their new home stadium in 1973. Then known as Royals Stadium, it was built specifically for baseball during an era known for multi-sport, cookie-cutter stadiums. On July 2, 1993, the stadium was renamed Kauffman Stadium in honor of Ewing Kauffman, the Royals’ founding owner.

Royals Stadium opened April 10, 1973. The Royals trumped Texas twelve to one in front of more than thirty-nine thousand fans. The stadium would host the fortieth annual All-Star game that year.

In college sports, MU celebrated one of its biggest wins ever at home on October 13. The then twelfth-ranked Tigers defeated number two Nebraska 13-12 when MU’s Tony Gillick intercepted a Husker’s last-minute two-point conversion pass. At the time, this was the highest-ranked opponent any Missouri team has ever beaten. The Tigers would go on to topple future Southeastern Conference foe Auburn in the Sun Bowl 34-17.


KANSAS CITY’S Worlds of Fun amusement park opened on May26, 1973, and cost ten million dollars to construct. Located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Clay County, Worlds of Fun was built at the edge of an industrial complex developed by Lamar Hunt. In Hunt’s initial plan, Worlds of Fun was a mere sidebar attraction to a hotel and entertainment corridor, but a slowing economy scaled back his plans.

This illustration from a 1973 issue of Missouri Life shows Worlds of Fun as it appeared during its maiden year. The park opened on May 26, 1973, two years after construction began.

Another well-known mid-Missouri location opened its doors in 1973. Named one of the best college hangouts in the nation, Shakespeare’s Pizza still feeds hungry MU students at Ninth and Elm in downtown Columbia.

The Arts

PROMINENT MISSOURI artist Fred Conway (1900-1972) and wordsmith John Neihardt (1881-1973) graced the pages of the May/ June 1973 issue of Missouri Life.

St. Louis native Fred Conway was a painter, print-maker, educator, and lecturer. He studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. Conway painted murals of the Federal Building in Kansas City, Brown Shoe Company Headquarters, and Peabody Coal Company Headquarters in St. Louis.

John Neihardt was an American author of poetry and prose, a historian, ethnographer, and philosopher. Neihardt traveled the Missouri River, absorbed the pulse of life along the way, and recorded its magnificence with the written word, penning that the river “is the symbol of my own soul.”

Read what we had to say about the Missouri State Fair in 1973 here. 

Article originally published in the August/September 2013 issue of Missouri Life.