by Laura Huffman
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau
The Ozark Mountains hold an almost mysterious allure that can be traced back to the earliest days of westward expansion. In Pulaski County, in the heart of the Ozarks, place names like Devils Elbow, Bloodland, Colley Holler, the California House, Wildcat Hollow, Poor Farm, Bear Ridge, and Boiling Spring pique the interest of the curious. Route 66 quickens the pulse of those with an interest in Americana, cars, and highways. The now silent whistles of the Frisco Railroad tempt those who yearn for days when railroads cut their swath across the United States and travel was both an event and an adventure. Civil War buffs seek out Pulaski County for its Old Stagecoach Stop and its strategic importance on the Old Wire Road. Military historians visit the archives at the three U.S. Army branch museums (Chemical, Military Police, and Engineer) on Fort Leonard Wood. Ghost towns such as Big Piney, Humboldt, Hancock, Helm, and nearby Arlington call to the lovers of the abandoned and forgotten. The Big Spring on the Roubidoux River in downtown Waynesville and Portuguese Point on the Gasconade River have drawn artists and photographers for as long as can be remembered. Inspirational locations are around every corner.
Pulaski County has had many events that defined the area. The Civil War is still visible in the area when looking at what is now the BNSF Railroad. Before the “War of Northern Aggression” the railroad was scheduled to be laid in the southern part of the county. After the war it was rerouted to follow troop tails that were pioneered across the northern part of the county. Interestingly, this led to the more rugged southern part of the county to be less populated- which opened the door to the building of the Seventh Corps Training Area, now known as Fort Leonard Wood. World War II is still visible on Fort Leonard Wood as well. The open air museum includes barracks and churches from the earliest days of the training installation. Beautiful stonework still adorns culverts and other areas on the military base- these were created with the labor of prisoners of war during the Second World War.
Pulaski County is the perfect place to meet and develop your next main character. The gentleman at Starbucks could very well be a soldier who recently returned from the Middle East. The bartender serving up an ice cold beer at the local watering hole could very well be a retired U.S. Navy Seabee. Everyday heroes walk amongst us every day in Pulaski County. Our history pages unveil characters as well- the tie-rafters on the Big Piney at the turn of the 20th century, the Swedish immigrants who took a chance on a wide spot on the railroad to make their fortune, the Italian immigrants who took that same chance on a nearby wide spot and became the first to develop the grape and wine culture in Missouri. We have stores and farms with stories to be told. The H.E. Warren Store in Richland has served its clientele continuously since it first opened its doors in 1869. Three businesses in Crocker have their beginnings established over a 100 years ago. 18 farms have been recognized as Missouri Century Farms- including one with the second oldest ranch brand in the country.
Much like Tilley’s Treasure, many of Pulaski County’s greatest stories are still waiting to be discovered and told. They are waiting for your voice, your pen, and your vision.
This article first appeared in “Dispatches”- the quarterly publication of the Military Writers Society of America. To view the issue in its entirety please visit www.mwsadispatches.com/dispatches/2016/1/17/winter-2016
Military Writers Society of America is hosting “Pulaski County Missouri History Crawl” September 30th through October 2nd, 2016 in Saint Robert, Missouri. This event will especially appeal to authors, historians, researchers, photographers, journalists, bloggers, and educators. Learn more at http://slate.adobe.com/cp/EDCUA. History Crawl spaces are limited, make your reservation today by contacting Pat Avery at firstname.lastname@example.org.