Into the Missouri Heartland

The next phase of our journey took us from Eureka Springs, Arkansas to Glasgow, Missouri, a town of 1000 residents, more or less, situated on the shore of the Missouri River. Glasgow is about an hour northwest of the Columbia, and was on the route taken by Lewis and Clark. This is not a great photo, but the text is informative. Including it may make one would if we visited Glasgow due to an arcane interest in trailing the exploits of Lewis and Clark. I can assure you the find was completely incidental.

Description of the Lewis and Clark Expedition events in the Glasgow area

We were in Glasgow to visit Steve, a friend from high school, and his wife Ruth. We had planned to meet at our 50 year reunion a few years ago but nature conspired to keep me home, focusing on the repairs to our hail damaged house. It made sense to travel through Glasgow on this trip since we needed to head north at some point and Glasgow would be on the way to Hannibal, home of the master writer whose cynicism I have long admired.

Steve told us that Glasgow had three claims to fame, though he did not state the Lewis and Clark expedition as one of them. I will tell you of those in a bit, using those nuggets in a feeble effort to inject a bit of dramatic suspense. At this time, however, I must return to the beginning of the day’s journey.

We left Eureka Springs on a warm, sunlit morning, heading east through the Ozark Plateau and then north into Missouri, leaving the mountains behind and entering the flatland of Missouri. Well it wasn’t completely flat. We were still in hills when we crossed into Missouri, and our search for a cup of coffee and a view of a lake led us to Camp Long Creek. I was really taken with these tiny cabins.

There were also many hills around Branson, the entertainment center of the western world, which was our intended first stop for the day. We were planning to check out the world’s largest roll of toilet paper, a photo of which would likely be the most priceless souvenir we could gather on this entire trip. Unfortunately we were unable to get that far since there were too many distractions long the way.

There was the world’s largest octopus devouring a building.

There was the world’s largest Oscar statuette ignoring the world’s largest statue of King Hong destroying a building.

And there was the country western Mount Rushmore

But mostly there were the top three of the world’s longest red traffic lights and the longest line of cars waiting for them to change. So we said, in our most gentile manner of expression, “F*** this S***, we’re outta here” We didn’t leave our car in Branson, even for a photograph. We agree that Branson is probably a great place for a family vacation. There are lots of water parks, theme parks, miniature golf, museums, and all sorts of entertainment venues. It’s like Las Vegas without the gambling, and possibly the class.

We bypassed our second planned stop as well. A friend had told us of the monument to Old Drum in Warrensburg, Missouri. Old Drum was a dog whose death by shooting was the subject of litigation. During the closing argument the attorney pursuing the case coined the phrase Man’s Best Friend . Unfortunately I found that I had actually plotted a route that took us far from Warrensburg. I blame the fact that our map had a crease in the wrong place, but Paula insists I was not paying attention. I’m sure I’m right.

The road eventually flattened out and we coasted along at a rather good clip on US 65, passing farmlands of corn and soy all the way to Glasgow. After checking in at the Orchard House Inn, where we were the only guests, we met Steve and Ruth for wine and dinner at Beckett’s, which was a surprisingly good restaurant for a town as small as Glasgow.

Orchard House Inn

With a population of about 1000 people, Glasgow is able to support at least five churches, including Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist, African Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations. They also support a public school (elementary and high school) and a Catholic school (elementary).

It seems that the tax base is fairly small given the size of the population, and I understand that the industrial base, mostly agricultural is a significant funder of public infrastructure. There is also a high degree of volunteerism in the community. The night we were in Glasgow, a concert and fundraiser for St. Mary’s school was held downtown and a fairly large crown, including a surprising number of young folks, attended.

This brings us to the exciting moment when I can reveal Glasgow’s three claims to fame.

First: Lewis Library of Glasgow is the oldest public library building west of the Mississippi and has been serving patrons since before the Civil War.

Second: The railroad bridge across the Missouri River was the first all-iron bridge constructed in the world.

Third, Henderson Drug Store is the oldest pharmacy west of the Mississippi, serving customers since 1841.

Henderson Drug Store, Photo by Ashley T. August 22, 2014, posted on Yelp.

There is also a senior center located near downtown.

As I start to wrap up this post, I hear the voice of Chief Inspector Gamache: “What are you not telling us?”

The main reason we came to Glasgow, was not to revel in its history, but to catch up with an old friend. We spent and evening and part of a morning together and enjoyed reminiscing about the past, and recounting how each of us has come to be in the present. It was a good visit, though too short, and I came to realize how much is lost when we fail to maintain relationships with those who matter to us. It is possible that one arrives at a time of life when it is too late to have lifelong friends. I regret that I have waited as long as I have.

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