When members of Viva Cuba, a beautification
group in Cuba, Mo., began their mural project, they probably couldn’t
imagine the effect it would have on their little town, located 75 miles
southwest of St. Louis. Thousands of visitors now flock to the town
to see the beautifully painted images that recount pieces of Cuba’s
The project began in 2001 when
Peoples Bank commissioned an outdoor mural to commemorate the bank’s
100th anniversary. The building-long mural, which portrays the bank’s
first president and the first Model T in town, was so well received
that Viva Cuba commissioned 11 more outdoor murals to be painted along
the Route 66 corridor by this year, when the town celebrated its 150th
The large murals, painted by local
and nationally known artists, portray scenes such as a campaign appearance
by Harry S. Truman, the incident of an unauthorized photo being taken
of movie star Bette Davis when she was visiting and an illustration
of the Blue Bonnet, a Frisco train which once served Cuba.
Cuba artist and art teacher Shelly Smith-Steiger, who painted or assisted
with many of the murals, touches up a scene where Amelia Earhart makes
an emergency landing in her Avro plane outside Cuba in 1928.
in town, nine mural panels depict Civil War battles in Missouri.
The series was a joint project between Viva Cuba and then-15-year-old
Chip Lange, a Civil War buff. As part of his Eagle Scout project, Lange
raised half of the $36,000 needed for the series, which was then
matched by the Viva Cuba organization.
For more information, go to
www.crawfordco.com/murals or call Cuba’s Chamber
of Commerce toll-free at 1-877-212-8429.