Where the road Y's

Where the road Y's
is where I like to be

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back on the road...

I could not take it anymore... I hid the broom, kicked the dirty clothes back into the closet and found my keys. I gave the kid 30 minutes to get ready and meet me in the car. That was just enough time to load the dishwasher and get the yard duty done (scoop-the-poop for you non-dog owners). 28 minutes later, a silver Saturn Ion could be seen barreling down a back-alley leaving nothing but an opaque wall of white dust to hide the view behind it.

We were going to Eureka Springs. I swear to you, Eureka Springs. As I followed 60 West through several small towns, I saw a sign. The sign said Crane, That Way. Have you ever seen the television commercial just begging you to come to Crane? It claims that Crane is the Neatest Little Town in Missouri. To get there, all I had to do was go south on 413. Who could resist?

I don't know if Crane is the Neatest Little Town in Missouri, but it is a pretty cool town, if you like second-hand stores. Which I do. You can literally walk down one side of the street, turn the corner, cross the street and walk back up going into store after store after store. One of the coolest parts is that each store has its own personality. I have visited a few touristy type places that feel as if once you have been in one or two stores, you have been in all of them. I never felt like that in Crane. I enjoyed my visit into each little homemade store. I didn't buy anything, though there was a blanket chest that I really wanted. I kicked its tires more than once, but opted out.

Once we finished shopping, we wasted no time getting back on the black-top. Even in pre-spring season, Missouri is just beautiful. After flipping a quarter, left-turn won, we ended up in Reeds Spring. I almost stopped at Pop's Dari Dell, but we weren't hungry, not even for an ice cream cone. Another eating place I'd like to visit some day is Papouli's. We drove by and I think they were open, but the parking lot was absent of even one vehicle. But in spite of the beautiful scenery and the beckoning restaurants, it just wasn't a Reeds Spring day. I don't know how to explain it, but when you are on a road trip, sometimes you know you have a destination and where you are at just isn't it.

As we headed back north on 413, we came into Galena and then we started to go out of Galena and that is when I saw the bridge. It is over the James River, but separated from the main road by a pull-off area. I could not resist, I slammed on the brakes, made a quick left across the other lane and pulled in. Of course, my son's attention has now been pulled away from his Ipod and is fully on me and my crazy stunt. "What are we doing here?" is all he wants to know. There are no restaurants, shops, or other familiar signs of entertainment. "I want to see this bridge." is the only right response I had for him.

First, I walked down to the river. This did interest Jeremy. He is quite the rock skipper. I was rightfully impressed. He got up to 6 or 7 skips, and some as high as, at least, 3 feet between jumps. I am not sure the fishermen a few feet down from us appreciated his skill as much as I did, so I cut his rock-skipping activity short. As I started back up the hill and toward the bridge, Jeremy asked, "Are you serious?" Of course, I was serious. I really don't know what his apprehension was about the bridge, but he was not going to walk on it. Jeremy went back to the car and back to his Ipod.

Before I went to the bridge, I went to the sign. Honestly, I heard Jeremy sigh from inside the car. It just burns him because I have to read every historic sign I come across. This bridge was built in 1926. And this is where I am going to get in trouble. I did not bring my camera, I did not have a pen with me -- so I am going to try to go from memory about what the sign said. If you want to make corrections, please do...

First, what really got to me was that the Historic Sign reiterated so much of the stuff that I had learned in my Ozark Studies class. I think I may send my professor an e-mail telling him that he MUST take future students on a road trip to this bridge. It would make his lessons come to life.

This area had been inhabited by Native Americans from 7000 BC.. and as you are standing at the Y looking up at the bluffs, I swear you can feel the truth of that history. Here is a picture from Wikipedia:
I don't know if this picture does it justice. Those bluffs are a sight to behold.

The sign goes on to tell the history of Galena and the county it occupies. The Delaware Indians lived here, as well as the Osage Indians before they sold it to the settlers. If I recall correctly, the Osage Indians did not live there so much as they used this area as hunting grounds. Schoolcraft had came down the James River and wrote about the bountiful game and the pools of water so clear that you could see to the bottom. I wish I could have seen the river when it was that pristine. If the Department of Conservation signs are correct, it is now being used for black bass.

After Ozarkians settled the area, there was a lot of unrest following the Civil War because of guerrilla warfare. According to what I read, this guerrilla warfare really stunted the growth of the area and caused a lot of poverty. I am not very knowledgeable in this area, so I should probably not venture too far into that territory. I know that it was a horrible time in the Ozarks' history and a lot of families suffered greatly at the hands of folks who may have started out with good intentions, but things eventually went haywire and got out of control. But, as always, Ozarkians are resilient and found their footing once more.

Thar Was Gold In Them Thar Hills... but it was Red Gold, tomatoes. Stone County's first tomato cannery was built in 1895 and through the years many more canneries popped up. I am sure there were other industries going on, but tomatoes kept the folks in this area thriving through the mid 1900's, up until about 1960, if I recall correctly. However, since then, I think the primary industry that has sustained the area is tourism. Branson is not too far away. Lots of folks still like to float, though I am certain they will never find the pools of water that Henry Schoolcraft wrote about. I don't think anyone will ever find the Ozarks that used to exist for the first settlers. Those Ozarks only exist in diaries of people who died a long time ago.

There are a lot of old gravel roads to be traveled, some more carefully than others, but the landscape has been changed so much on the outside that even the countryside found far off the beaten path feels modernized. It is as if modernity seeps inward. It starts off as the outer shell for public viewing, but its effects trickle inward until even the most remote cabin cannot be immune to it. Or perhaps it is just my mode of transportation that separates me from my Ozarkian ancestor's past.

But today, regardless of how I got there, I knew that standing on that Y Bridge, staring up at the bluffs, I was where I was supposed to be.

1 comment:

  1. hello from another Ozarkagain...Ha! I saw your blog and I love what you had to say...I have been there too. I am in Ozark.....which is not far from all the above..though it was neat to find you..You could be right next door and I wouldn't know it. I am not buffing' ha!thanks for sharing..