Todd Baslee Guest Speaker at Boonslick Historical Society Spring Meeting

New Franklin resident Todd Baslee, an authority on the history of the M-K-T Railroad and the iconic “KATY” Railroad Bridge across the Missouri River at Boonville, will be the featured speaker April 11 at the Boonslick Historical Society (BHS) spring meeting in Boonville.    The title of Baslee’s presentation will be the “M-K-T Crossing the Missouri River at Boonville.” The BHS fall meeting will be held at the historic Zuzak Building, 311-313 Main St., Boonville. It begins at 7 p.m. The general public is invited to attend the meeting. There is no fee. For more information, contact Cindy Bowen at 660-273-2374 or by email at gbowen@socket.net    A native of Boonville, Baslee and his family now live in New Franklin in the house that his grandfather built. During the time he was building this home he was working for the M-K-T Railroad.  “This is how I became interested in the KATY Railroad,” Baslee said.  “I have studied the KATY for over twenty-five years and continue to collect items that are of mostly local interest.”

The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Bridge (often called the “KATY Bridge” from MKT) is a former rail bridge across the Missouri River at Boonville, Missouri, where it connects Howard and Cooper counties. In 2010, after a successful campaign by the Save the KATY Bridge Coalition, the bridge was acquired by the city of Boonville from the Union Pacific Railroad. The city plans to incorporate it into the 225-mile Katy Trail bicycle trail.

The bridge was built in 1931-32 as MKT Bridge No. 191.1 by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad to replace an 1873 MKT structure. It has four trusses over the water and a vertical lift in the middle, and was constructed by Kansas City Bridge Company (substructure), American Bridge Company (superstructure), and General Electric Company (electric installation).

The rail line served by the bridge was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad, which later announced plans to abandon the line. In 1987, bicycle enthusiasts worked out an agreement to take use of the line for a rail trail administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and stretching from St. Charles to Clinton. The agreement stipulated that the trail would be operated as a railbank and according to the desires of the railroad.

Herman Zuzak opened Zuzak’s Wonder Store on Main Street in Boonville early in the twentieth century, selling everything from 5 & 10 cent curiosities to home furnishings.  The “dime store” idea caught on and the building housed a Woolworths for the next 40 years.  One of Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin stores followed, as his idea of a mega-dime store matured into an even larger reality.

In the 1970-80s, the building housed a men’s and women’s fashion shop. Later it a used furniture store, then from 2000 thru 2004 a home décor and gift store. And then, some 90 years after Zuzak first filled his store with wonders, it reopened in 2010 as Zuzak Art Gallery.

The Boonslick Historical Society was founded in 1937 and meets several times a year to enjoy historical topics pertinent to the Boonslick area. Society members have worked together over the years to publish historical books and brochures and to mark historic sites. The Society supported the founding of Boone’s Lick State Historic Site, marked the sites of Cooper’s Fort and Hannah Cole’s Fort and restored a George Caleb Bingham painting on loan to The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo.

Historian Jim Denny Guest Speaker at BHS Fall Meeting

Jim Denny

Jim Denny

Well-known Missouri historian and author Jim Denny will be the Guest speaker November 9 at the Boonslick Historical Society (BHS) fall meeting in Boonville.

The title of Denny’s presentation will be “War of 1812 in the Boonslick.” Denny will discuss the War of 1812 and how it was fought in the Missouri Territory.

The BHS fall meeting will be held at historic Turner Hall, 518 Vine Street in Boonville. It begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the dinner at 7 p.m. and then the program. The general public is invited to attend the meeting. Cost of the dinner is $20 per person. For meal reservations (due by November 1), contact Cindy Bowen at 660-273-2374 or by email at gbowen@socket.net.

Denny was a historian with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for thirty-three years before retiring in November 2009. He received his education at the University of Missouri, where he earned a Master’s Degree in American History.

Denny has been active in many aspects of Missouri history. He began his career in the DNR Historic Preservation Program where he worked for eleven years. He then became the first manager of the KATY Trail and later became manager of the Civil War Marker program, which is designed to place interpretive waysides at the locations of significant Civil War events.

During the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration, Denny directed an interpretive wayside program that ultimately placed 68 interpretive waysides along the Mississippi and Missouri River routes of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. He has given numerous public presentations on a wide variety of topics to audiences throughout the state. He has traveled the entire Lewis and Clark route through Missouri, by both automobile and by boat, and has visited every county in the state.

Denny is co-author, with James D. Harlan, of the Atlas of Lewis and Clark in Missouri, which was published by the University of Missouri Press in the Fall of 2003. In 2000, he produced Lewis and Clark in the Manitou Bluffs Region, which was jointly published by the Boonslick Historical Society and the Missouri River Communities Network. Denny has also published numerous articles on a variety of topics including historic architecture, Missouri’s Civil War, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition in Missouri. Denny’s latest book, co-authored with John Bradbury, The Civil War’s First Blood:  Missouri 1854 – 1861, has been published by Missouri Life and was released in the Summer of 2007. Since 20011, Denny has written a series of articles for Rural Missouri magazine on the Civil War in Missouri and on the War of 1812 in Missouri.

Denny and his wife, Sue, live beside the Missouri River in Lupus, Missouri. He served several terms as town mayor, a position now held by his wife.

The Boonslick Historical Society was founded in 1937 and meets several times a year to enjoy historical topics pertinent to the Boonslick area. Society members have worked together over the years to publish historical books and brochures and to mark historic sites. The Society supported the founding of Boone’s Lick State Historic Site and the creation of the Santa Fe Tail Monument in New Franklin, marked the sites of Cooper’s Fort and Hannah Cole’s Fort, and restored a George Caleb Bingham painting on loan to The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette. Membership in BHS is $15 for individuals and $25 family.

FALL 2013 MEETING

The BHS fall meeting will be held at Turner Hall in Boonville. It begins at 6:00 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the dinner at 7:00 p.m. and then the program. The general public is invited to attend the meeting. Cost of the dinner is $20 per person. Membership in BHS is $10 for Individuals and $15 for Family. For meal reservations (due by November 1), contact Cindy Bowen at 660-273-2374 or by email at gbowen@socket.net. Additional information will be posted at a later date.