St. Louis area holds nation’s only horseshoe pitching museum — yes, horseshoe pitching | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area holds nation’s only horseshoe pitching museum — yes, horseshoe pitching

Jun 16, 2016

Joe Faron, the vice president of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Foundation, says the museum he helped create is one of the best kept secrets in the United States. The secret is so well-kept that people living right around the corner from the facility in Wentzville, often come up to him astounded that it’s been in their neighborhood for coming up on nine years.

But there you have it, the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association Hall of Fame and Museum, the only museum of its kind dedicated to the art and athleticism of horseshoe pitching in the U.S. does make its home right here in the “crossroads of the nation,” as Faron puts it. He said it is the only museum of its kinds in the U.S.

The 21,00-square-foot Hall of Fame and Museum houses horseshoe pitching regalia dating back to the 1800s. The items range from trophies to particularly lucky horseshoes to a video installation of some of the greatest horseshoe pitches of all time. The museum also pays homage to 166 Hall of Fame inductees, including six from Missouri. Faron is one of those inductees.

"Basically, everybody you talk to, somewhere along the line, they pitched horseshoes in their backyard, picnics, family reunions or all that." — Joe Faron, vice president, National Horseshoe Pitchers Foundation

One of the most interesting pieces in the museum is memorabilia from when horseshoe pitchers from all over the country went to the White House to play horseshoes with President George H.W. Bush.

Free and open to the public on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday afternoons, the facility also includes 16 indoor horseshoe pitching courts, 16 outdoor courts, a kitchen, restrooms and a room for meetings. It is administrated by the Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club, which has over 300 local members, likely the largest club in the United States, Faron said.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Faron joined host Don Marsh to discuss the museum and the sport of horseshoe pitching as part of our new, recurring summer segment on the St. Louis area’s quirky and small “hidden museums” operating on a tight budget and with a slightly smaller inflow of visitors that some of the area’s monolithic museums like the Saint Louis Art Museum or Missouri History Museum.

Faron said that membership in the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association,  a federation of 55 charters in the U.S. and Canada, has declined some in recent years but there are still over 10,000 members across the country.

Joe Faron, the vice president of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Foundation.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“Basically, everybody you talk to, somewhere along the line, they pitched horseshoes in their backyard, picnics, family reunions or all that,” Faron said.

Horseshoe pitching is derived from a sport that started in ancient Greece called quoits, where different materials, such as metal discs or rope, were thrown around stakes. In the United States, the game evolved during the 1800s to be played with horseshoes.

The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association is the official governing board of the game and, today, horseshoe pitching is done with slightly oversized, regulation horseshoes weighing 2 lbs. 10 oz or under. You can find the rules for the game and how to pitch here.

Faron said that the sport really picked up popularity in the United States with the first world horseshoe pitching tournament held in Kansas in 1909.

Missouri was chosen to house the National Horseshoe Pitching Hall of Fame and Museum partly because it was known as one of the top charters for horseshoe pitching in the United States — at one time it had the largest club membership of any size in the United States.

Listen to how the museum came to be in Missouri, horseshoe pitching tips, who the best player in horseshoe pitching is today and more here:

We want your input finding museums. Have you seen any quirky ones recently? What should we explore?

This summer, St. Louis on the Air will introduce you to a few such museums in the region as part of a recurring summer segment. You’ll also hear about other hidden museums that exist nationwide on Morning Edition later this summer. What should we explore?

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Want to visit the National Horseshow Pitchers Association Museum?

Where: 100 Bluestem Way, Wentzville MO 63385

Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Monday and Wednesday, 2:30-7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

For more information, call 636-327-5720 or visit this website.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.