In the Spring of 2021, the Johnson County Commission requested submissions from local artists for art to cover the retaining wall on the east section of the trail. Their vision was to capture the motto of the Spirit Trail, “Connecting Communities,” along with an interactive area.
Artist Stefanie Aziere-Sattler was selected to create the mural with her depiction incorporating all the major elements of the surrounding area.
Railroad history runs deep in Johnson County and the Hi Train steam engine, originally running through Knob Noster, signifies this tie as well as the connection to the Katy and Rock Island rail lines. Mules, another common figure seen in Johnson County, not only brought settlers in our early history, but rose in significance during WWI when mules raised in Johnson County were used as a primary source of transport for gun carts plus support to artillery and ammunition units.
A representation of the Warrensburg area would not be complete without acknowledgement of the historic court case involving Charles Burden and his faithful dog, Old Drum, whose iconic statue currently stands in front of the Johnson County Courthouse on Holden Street. From a humble start in 1871 with 30 students, the Normal School No. 2 became the University of Central Missouri. The historic seal of Central Missouri State University (1941-2006) with its laurel border, represents the long-lasting influence of the University within Johnson County.
Osage Indians, native to this area, were the first to discover the wonders of Pertle Springs, now a part of the University of Central Missouri Golf Course. The greenery throughout the mural embraces the natural setting of Knob Noster State Park including the beauty of dogwoods and the Eastern bluebird, the Missouri State tree and bird. An American bald eagle, evident in increasing numbers in Johnson County, is depicted approximately twice the size of an actual eagle, for the interactive section of the mural.
Feel free to pause on your journey for a photo in front of the bird and soar with eagle wings! The final section paying homage to Whiteman Air Force Base was very personal to Aziere-Sattler:
“The pilot in the mural is flying one plane while a Stealth B-2 is in the reflection of his face shield. I wanted to portray the vision of the pilots, in dedication to my brother and other pilots’ service.”