Ozark Moonshine – Alive and Well in the Ozarks

Hillbilly and moonshine

The image of a lazy hillbilly in the shade of an old oak tree, barefoot and sippin from a corn whiskey jug, this is an image forever tied to moonshine in the Ozarks.  Long before the cartoonish image of hillbilly moonshine came along, our Scotch-Irish ancestors were just doing what they had always done, making whiskey. Corn grew well in the Ozarks and the same limestone rich water valued so highly by Kentucky’s bourbon makers, flowed in these hills also.  Corn would replace barley as the main ingredient, but the process would basically remain the same. The word “moonshine” is found in a lot Continue Reading →

The Elusive Morel Mushroom – Denizen of the Ozark Woods

Born in the light of the moon and raised in the deep hollers of the backwoods, these elusive creatures are the prized game of many hungry Ozarkians. But step lightly as you enter the woods in search of these fungi, those who claim to simply “pick” Morels mushrooms are naive.  These fungi we chase will not just sit there and wait for you.  Although lacking the traditional limbs of the bi-pedal human, these crafty mushrooms can dart under the leaves and be gone in a split second.  Make no mistake, this is a hunt. Although you may stumble across a Continue Reading →

Just Released – Born of the Ozarks

Born of the ozarks

Dawn – a faint light brightens the east. The whip-poor-will calls sleepily to his mate. In the distance a crow caws, and owls who –whoo as they slowly fly back to the old dead stub where they sleep away the daytime. A rain crow’s chuckle is heard and a cardinal high in a tree calls loudly to his mate. The light brightens – gold –rose – and lavender colors blend and spread across the sky. The plaintive call of the wood pewee is heard in the old hickory tree. Then a chorus of bird song fills the air. Robins, Continue Reading →

My Little Red Coleman Lantern

Other than my recliner, I do not know of anything I find as comfortable as the warm glow and quiet hiss of a Coleman Lantern.  When I think back, some of my best memories involve the warming glow of a Coleman lantern somewhere on the bank of the Gasconade River.  I remember the bugs buzzing round the lantern globe and the faint smell of lantern fuel as it burns off into the night. Other times I remember making campsites in the Mark Twain National Forest with little more than a tarp and a blanket.  The Coleman lantern was always my beacon Continue Reading →

Silver Dollar City Postcards

SDC train

Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, MO, and the Annual Brown Family Reunion held at Alley Springs; these were the places I would go almost every year during summer vacation.  Kids these days wouldn’t even call these day trips a vacation, but for us…this was the highlight of the Summer. Going through a stack of old postcards recently brought back a lot of memories from one in particular. A trip to Silver Dollar City in the 1970’s & 80’s was an all day adventure.  Highway 65 was a two-lane and Highway 76 was Continue Reading →

The Cedar Tree – Missouri’s Next State Tree?

Driving down a two-lane byway South of Wasola, MO last week I noticed a cedar tree perched high up on a rocky ledge.  He looked to be balancing on one root and any sudden wind would have sent him toppling into the road and ditch below.  But, I don’t believe he will fall to his demise anytime soon, if ever.  It seems that cedar trees not only do well in those precarious situations, but they thrive. A staple of the Missouri scenery, I don’t think enough credit goes to this hardy Missourian.  As a matter of fact, I think Continue Reading →

Ha Ha Tonka – The Castle in the Ozarks

ha ha tonka

Where do you start when you talk about Ha Ha Tonka State Park? This park presents a real contrast, a man-made wonder like no other in Missouri, and a plethora of geological wonders. This area is probably the best example of karst topography (caves, sinkholes, etc.) in the state. The idea of building Ha Ha Tonka mansion was conceived in 1903 by Robert M. Snyder on a visit to the Ha Ha Tonka area.  He fell in love with the spectacular scenery and by 1905, he had purchased 3,500 acres of the surrounding area and began to hire stone Continue Reading →

Glade Top Trail – Missouri’s Fall Colors

Glade Top Trail Postcard

The air is turning crisp and it’s time to load up the “Family Truckster” and take off on the road to adventure.  One of the best Missouri destinations in the fall is The Mark Twain National Forest’s Glade Top Trail.  A member of the National Forest Scenic Byway system.  It was the first National Scenic Byway designated in Missouri.  The Glade Top Trail is one of only 51 National Scenic Byways in the nation.  Located just south of Ava, Missouri the trail extends through the Mark Twain National Forest, with a 25 mile stretch of it across the top of Continue Reading →

W. C. Cantrell – A Webster County Original

Woodson Collins Cantrell & son Earl, ca. 1910

The City Marshal in the photo below is my Great Grandfather Woodson Collins Cantrell. Although Collins Cantrell passed away two years before I was born, I was raised with many tales and stories of this stern, yet loving man. Raised in and around Cantrell Creek, he spent most of his life in Webster County, MO. Collins knew most people by their name and the rest he knew by their face or their family. Driven in life by a strong sense of family, he was surrounded by the large Cantrell clan from the beginning. His father John James Cantrell had 17 Continue Reading →

Sunday Best

I love to go to auctions. I do admit that part of the reason I love them so much is the food. But, the discovery of a great photograph in the bottom of a box is what keeps me coming back. You know I just can’t help it…I love these old photographs. Bonnets and bowler hats, it must have been Easter Sunday. The kids are excited. You can tell by all the blurred faces. They did not want to stand still on this day. Which person catches your eye as you look into the past? The little girl in Continue Reading →