Rural Missouri Magazine

The Mural City
Cuba, MO

by Heather Berry

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 history.

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 anniversary.

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.

Above, 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.

Elsewhere 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 or call Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce toll-free at 1-877-212-8429.


Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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