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The 'Queen of the Prairie'
In 1874, town founder Col. Aaron McPike said Vandalia, Missouri, was the "Queen of the Prairie." According to the Community Spotlight magazine, a man named Jackson passed through Vandalia and was impressed with the vast rolling prairies waving like a multi-colored sea. It reminded him of Vandalia, Illinois, and his hometown, Vandalia, Indiana. He suggested that the new railroad town become a sister city to the Indiana and Illinois Vandalias, and Col. McPike agreed. "Vandalia was said to have the finest prairie land in the Mississippi Valley. Today, we consider ourselves the prettiest, brightest and by far the best of the three Vandalia sisters!" the magazine said.
The Van-Far R-1 School District complex on U.S. Highway 54 on the west side of Vandalia includes the elementary school and junior-senior high school. Enrollment is about 680 students per year. The school system has consistently received an AAA academic classification from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. High school students also participatge in programs offered through the Mexico-Hart Area Vocational-Technical School in Mexico or take college credit courses offered through Moberly Area Community College. Vandalia is within two hours driving distance of several universities and colleges, including the University of Missouri-Columbia, Stephens College, Columbia College, Lincoln University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, Hannibal-LaGrange College, William Woods University, Westminster College, Moberly Area Community College and Central Christian College of the Bible.
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Health and Community Services
The Van-Far Ambulance Service and two medical clinics are the front-line defenders of the health of the community's citizens. The Tri-County Care Center is a tax-supported nursing home. The Audrain City-County Health Unit also offers various clinics for adults and children in the Vandalia community. There are more than 30 civic organizations, and churches are abundant. Each summer, the Vandalia Area Fair Association hosts a fun-filled week of country music entertainment and family activities. The four city parks offer swimming, picnicking, tennis and basketball. There are three ball diamonds, an eight-lane bowling alley, and twin cinema. Hunting and fishing are plentiful in the area, and Mark Twain Lake is just 30 minutes to the northwest. The Vandalia Country Club, five miles east of town, includes a grass greens 9-hole course.
The city of Vandalia offers a wide variety of community services, including many parks and recreational opportunities. Vandalia has a state-designated enterprise zone, which means that businesses that create new jobs are rewarded with tax credits and other incentives. The city-appointed Vandalia Industrial Development Authority is charged with industrial promotion and development. The city even owns an electrical plant. Other municipally-provided services include a full-time police department, a volunteer fire department, residential and commercial solid waste disposal and a curbside recycling program. A county-maintained public library is located in Vandalia.
Business and Industry Opportunities
Agriculture is the dominant industry of the Vandalia area. The city of Vandalia is surrounded by some of the richest farmland in all of Missouri. The large employers include the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Facility, two refractories plants, the school district, the Tri-County Care Center nursing home, Target Aluminum, which manufactures windows and doors, and two garment factories. Gateway Western Railway runs through the town, and Vandalia is only 27 miles from the barge traffic along the Mississippi River. The community is served by one U.S. and one state highway. The Vandalia Air Park, which has a 2,600-foot grass runway is one mile east of town. The Mexico Memorial Airport, 27 miles southwest of Vandalia, has a paved 5,500-foot runway, is lighted and offers private craft storage, maintenance, and fuel. The city of Vandalia offers water and sanitation facilities.
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