BHS Summer Meeting at Arrow Rock State Historic Site

We note two upcoming BHS meetings this year: the summer meeting, which will be held Sunday, July 16, beginning at 3 p.m. (tentative date), at Arrow Rock State Historic Site and the annual fall banquet, which will be held Sunday, November 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the historic Hotel Frederick in Boonville.

Boonslick Historical Society board member Michael Dickey, who is administrator of Arrow Rock State Historic Site, will lead the program, which may include a tour of the Village of Arrow Rock with the assistance of the Friends of Arrow Rock organization. Of special note is this year’s guest speaker for the fall meeting: well-known Missouri broadcaster and historian Bob Priddy, who is president of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Arrow Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. A portion of the town is also preserved as Arrow Rock State Historic Site. The creation of the state historic site resulted from the National Old Trails Road Association’s, and later, the Daughters of the American Revolution’s efforts to preserve the “Old Tavern.” In it, in 1912, a room was set aside for exhibits “as a means of teaching Missouri history to the passerby.” Now, Missouri State Parks operates the historic site, which features several historic buildings and a modern visitor center. The visitor center contains artifacts and exhibits that portray the history of the town and the Boone’s Lick Country.

A landmark of hospitality for over a century, the J. Huston Tavern was begun by Joseph Huston in 1834. As the owners changed, the tavern went through a progression of names such as the Neill House, Arrow Rock Hotel, Scripture House, City Hotel and finally the Old Tavern.

The home of 19th-century artist George Caleb Bingham is managed by the state historic site and received its own designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Other buildings operated by the historic site include the old courthouse, the Academy Boarding House, the Dr. Mathew Hall House and a stone jail known as “the calaboose.”

The Friends of Arrow Rock, founded in 1959, own a number of historic structures in town and cooperate with Missouri State Parks to present guided tram tours of the village. Several special events held throughout the year showcase the history of the town.

BHS Spring Meeting to Highlight Katy Railroad and Bridge

The Boonslick Historical Society spring meeting will be held April 21 at the new Boonville Visitors Center and River, Rails and Trails Museum, 100 E. Spring St., beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting is being held jointly with the South Howard County and Cooper County Historical Societies.

Highlights of the program will be presentations on the historic Katy Railroad Bridge at Boonville, which ultimately will be restored to operation as part of the Katy Hiking and Bicycling Trail. It evolved from the historic M-K-T “Katy” Railroad that operated in Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma for 123 years before it merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1988 and later became part of Union Pacific Railroad.

Presenting the program will be well-known Boonville resident, videographer, photographer and Katy Bridge historian Wayne Lammers and Katy Railroad historian Raymond B.  George Jr. of St. Charles.

The program will include a brief history of the M-K-T Railroad and the Katy Bridge built at Boonville in 1932 and last used in 1986. Lammers will present a video production of the bridge showing different phases of its use along with video of one of the last Katy trains to cross this bridge with interviews of the bridge operator, C.D. Gregory and others.

Before their presentations, Lammers and George will lead a tour of the nearby south entrance of the Katy Bridge, the new walkway out to the lift span of the bridge, which was recently reconnected to the main bridge. The historic Katy Railroad Depot, one block north of the Boonville Visitors Center, is situated between the Visitors Center and the Katy Bridge entrance by the Casino parking lot.

Lammers has been long active in historical pursuits, including efforts to save the Katy Bridge (the Katy Bridge Coalition) and is a past president of the Boonslick Historical Society. He also participated in the citizen effort in getting MoDOT to put a walkway on the new Missouri River highway bridge in the mid-1990s and also was responsible for having it officially named the Boonslick Bridge as opposed to the Boonville Bridge.

George is the author of countless articles about the histo­ry and operations of the M-K-T Railroad for The Katy Flyer magazine and other publications. In 1986 he co-authored “Katy Power: Locomotives and Trains of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Rail­road, 1912-1985,” with Joe G. Collias, and in 1993 he au­thored “The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Lines in Color.”

For more information about the meeting, contact Cindy Bowen at 660-273-2374. Visitors to the meeting should bring folding chairs with them. Refreshments will be served. The general public is invited.

More information about the Boonville Visitors Center and River, Rails and Trails Museum is on the museum website.

BHS Fall Meeting November 8, 2014, at Huston Tavern in Historic Arrow Rock

The fall meeting of the Boonslick Historical Society will be held November 8 when members of the Boone’s Lick (Historic) Road Association will join the Society in a joint dinner at the Huston Tavern (1834) in Historic Arrow Rock in Saline County.

The program will be presented by Missouri historian Lynn Morrow, who recently retired as the long-time director of local records preservation for Missouri State Archives. The title of his presentation is “Boone’s Lick in Western Expansion.” As Morrow notes, “The synergism of Eastern wealth, the Louisiana Purchase, the Thomas Jefferson administration, the Missouri Indian trade, commercial visions for Santa Fe, and initiatives of bold adventurers spawned the famed Boone’s Lick in 1805.”

Morrow will discuss these unfolding events that brought Morgan and Nathan Boone into a commercial salt industry with Philadelphia’s Bryan and Morrison trading company, the most influential American firm in Missouri’s trans-Mississippi West. Of the six Morrison brothers who came West, William, the eldest, administered the family business from Kaskaskia, assigning James, Jesse, nephews, and others to implement their strategic economic reach. Boone’s Lick salt became crucial in the Osage Indian trade, Missouri River commerce, and for support of federal and Missouri militia troops in the War of 1812.

Morrow’s presentation will be drawn from the Boone’s Lick Heritage Quarterly’s planned Fall 2014 Collector’s Edition, where readers can peruse his longer essay that surveys the topic from the mid-1790s to the mid-1830s. This special edition will be 32 pages or more and will include previously unpublished documents and information regarding this period of Missouri Territory and statehood history.

BHS Summer Meeting July 20, 2014, at Ashby Hodge Gallery of American Art

The Boonslick Historical Society summer meeting will be held from 3 to 5 p.m., July 20, at The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University in Fayette. The Gallery is located in Classic Hall on the southeast corner of the campus. The public is invited to attend.

Currently being featured is a historically significant exhibition titled “Courthouses of Missouri: A Photographic Study by Jerry Benner.” Society treasurer Denise Gebhardt is curator of the Gallery and will be present to talk about its current show and other permanent works. Benner also plans to attend the Summer Meeting and discuss his work, which includes the courthouses of the Boonslick Region.

The exhibition includes digital representations of what are often referred to as the architectural icons of Missouri’s 114 county seats of government—the county courthouses. The show also includes the historic St. Louis Courthouse near the Gateway Arch and the historic courthouses of the Boonslick Region. Works from other photographers and the Gallery’s permanent collection also will be on display.

Artist-photographer Jerry Benner of Ferguson, Mo., is a 1966 CMU alumnus who came back to campus as an adjunct professor of photography in 2001 and taught until retiring in 2012. This latter career followed an earlier retirement that capped a 36-year career as an educator in the Parkway School District of St. Louis, where Benner taught English, social studies, photography, photojournalism, audio and visual production. In addition to his B.A. in Political Science from Central, Benner also holds an M.A. in Communications from St. Louis University. He met his wife, Ruth, when they were students at Central.

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    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.