Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Booger Hollow

Booger Hollow, Arkansas
The name Booger Hollow originated with the belief that the area was haunted due to the numerous graveyards located there. (Booger as in like boogie or boogie man.) The town boasted a "population of 7 plus a coon dog."
Booger Hollow is found on highway 7, north of Russellville, AR.
Here you could find the ever popular tourist trap "Booger Hollow Trading Post" and the "Worlds Only Double Decker Outhouse."
(The lower level is practical, but the upper facility is perpetually closed "until we git the plummin' figgered out.")

The trading post consisted of a gift shop, a diner and photo-op Outhouse. The attraction didn't change for over 40 years and many families traveling through Arkansas on their way to Dogpatch or Silver Dollar City stopped at Booger Hollow. Signs counted the miles down toward Booger Hollow and as the traveler got closer I'm sure the kids were bouncing up and down in the back seat with excitement!

The Booger Hollow gift shop featured typical hillbilly themed knick-knacks as well as local goods like honey and lye soap. The diner offered silly menu items like the "boogerburger" and "boogerdog". I'm sure your crazy, back-seat jumpin, kid would love to brag to his friends that he ate a Boogerburger!

The original owners of Booger Hollow decided to sell in 2004 and the attraction has been abandoned ever since... It doesn't look like there are any plans to reopen anytime soon.
Possibly because a similar attraction called Chigger Hollow opened up further south on Hwy 7 in early 2007? It's been reported that all of the remenants of Booger Hollow are still sitting there along Hwy 7.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Landers "Little" Theater - Springfield

The historic Landers Theatre is located at 311 East Walnut in Springfield. It opened on September 18, 1890, with the production: "Golden Girl." The total capacity of the theater was 824 and at the time had the second largest stage in the entire state.

The Landers Theatre started out showing vaudeville type shows weekly eventually going on to host some other famous performers including Lon Chaney, John Philip Sousa and Lillian Russell. In 1927 the Landers became the 35th theater in the United States to show "talkies," showing Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer."

On December 17, 1920, the Landers suffered a major fire. An asbestos curtain and other fireproofing precautions kept the theater from being a total loss. A janitor was killed in the fire and according to several sources, he still haunts the theater to this day (along with several other ghosts)!

The theater was rebuilt in 1922 and ran continuously through the 1960s as a motion picture theater. Springfield Little Theatre purchased the building in 1970 (Changing the name from "Landers Theater" to "Springfield Little Theatre") and the first Little Theatre production shown at the Landers was "The Importance of Being Earnest." In 1980 the Little Theatre expanded the lobby eastward, added a refreshment bar, handicap ramp and a restroom on the main floor. They removed the separate ticket booth and entrance for "colored people" at the same time.

The Springfield Little Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

You can learn more about the history of the theater and get ticket information by clicking here.

You can read more about the spooky Lander's Hauntings by clicking here and here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ozark Superstitions...

Here are some interesting homemaking/housewife superstitions I found in a book entitled: Ozark Superstitions, by Vance Randolph.

-When a woman drops a dishrag, she knows that someone dirty is coming to her door. If the cloth falls in a compact wad it will be a woman...if it falls flat and open, a man.
-To drop the towel used in drying dishes means a stranger will be arriving soon...drop it twice and the stranger will be hungry!
-If the housewife's nose itches it means that unexpected company is on its way.
-Some hillfolk say your visitor will be poor or needy and the old rhyme turns true about your unexpected visitor:

If your nose itches, If your nose itches,
Somebody is coming with a hole in their britches.

-An itching of the eye signifies bad luck.
-If your ears are burning someone is talking about you.
-If your left hand itches you will receive an unexpected present that day.
-If two persons use the same towel at the same time there is sure to be a quarrel or some other difficulty. The old adage:

Wash 'an dry together
Weep 'an cry together.

-To find a hairpin in your path means you will make a new friend.

and lastly:

-Never pick up a spoon you find lying in the road. Women who are unlucky in their household affairs will often throw a spoon out in the road hoping that some poor, unsuspecting passers-by will pick up the spoon and the bad luck will pass on to whoever picks it up!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dogpatch U.S.A.

In 1968 a small amusement park was opened in the area of Marble Falls, Arkansas. Called "Dogpatch, U.S.A.", it was a theme park based on characters and locations from Al Capps "Lil' Abner" comic strips. The town of Marble Falls actually changed its name to Dogpatch to help promote the park.

In the 60's being a hillbilly was pretty fashionable. Popular shows of the time included Petticoat Junction, Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbilly's (who consequently shot several scenes at Silver Dollar City - but, that's a post for another day.) The time was right for a Hillbilly themed park!

Many of the buildings found in the park were authentic hillbilly cabins found in the local area. They were meticulously broken down, cataloged and tagged, and then reassembled back in the park.

Dogpatch was wildly successful in it's beginning but several factors began slowly bringing this park to an end. Here is a basic run-down of what happened:

1. One major shareholder, Jess Odom, bought out all of his shareholders making him (basically) the sole owner of Dogpatch.
2. He decided to build a ski resort... bad news because:
-Arkansas had a string of mild winters.
-Interest rates doubled
3. Hillbilly TV shows started being replaced by City Folk TV shows... (and more and more people were able to afford their own TV.)
4. Al Capp retired and Lil' Abner comic strip was no-more.
5. In 1980 Dogpatch filed for bankruptcy.

Believe it or not, Dogpatch actually opened for business the following season after filing for bankruptcy. Also in 1981 Dogpatch was bought by Ozark Entertainment, Inc. Under new management the park saw several more prosperous years. They put in a few new rides and other entertainment venues.

In 1987 The Entertainment and Leisure Corporation (Telcor) bought Dogpatch U.S.A for an undisclosed price. Under this new leadership even more money was put into the park and things were really looking up. But unfortunately this was a short lived success.

By the 1980's the Lil' Abner comic strip had been retired 20 years. Kids didn't know who Lil'Abner was..and they could care less. Also adding to Dogpatch troubles was Silver Dollar City. Dogpatch was basically a park mimicing SDC, only SDC had the good fortune of being close to Branson. Dogpatch was unable to draw in the amount of tourists it needed to keep the park successful. In the early 1991 Dogpatch decided to nix the whole Lil' Abner persona and focus on arts/crafts village to save money on royalties to the Capp family.
It didn't work and Dogpatch U.S.A. closed its doors in 1993.

The official name of the town was changed back to Marble Falls in 1997.

Now the park is abandoned. It is still there, decaying. There are a couple of really great websites where you can see current pictures.

Underground Ozarks has some awesome photos of their trip into the park. You can check it out here.

Pointed Sticks Presents: Colter also made a trip behind the scenes and you can see his adventures here.

In 1994, Dogpatch was sold Westek Corp. and Leisure Tek, Ltd.
Although neighbors are rumbling that there has been some activity at the park (looks like some reconstruction and preservation efforts) they have not made public any plans for the park.

If you have any pics of you and your family at Dogpatch U.S.A please send them to me at JamesStephanieKayley@gmail.com! I'll put them up on my blog to share!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shepherd of the Hills - by Harold Bell Wright

I was walking though the Silver Dollar City giftshop one day, maybe...oh, 8 or 10 years ago when I spied this book. I had NO idea who Harold Bell Wright was...and I only knew a little about Shepherd of the Hills being a tourist attraction that I had never been to just outside of Branson.
As I curiously handled the book my Dad wandered up and said "I remember that book, it was required reading in school for us." I can't remember now if he had any particular thoughts on it, (ie. boring or not) but I seemed intrigued enough at the time to go ahead and purchase it.

I read it...and it has been my all-time favorite book ever since. (The book has since been made into a movie starring John Wayne and the Shepherd of the Hills attraction outside of Branson has many original buildings that are true to the story. But, all of these will be stories for another day.)

Here is a teaser:

In the hills of life there are two trails. One lies along the higher sunlit fields where those who journey see afar, and the light lingers even when the sun is down; and one leads to the lower ground, where those who travel, as they go, look always over their shoulders with eyes of dread, and gloomy shadows gather long before the day is done.

This, my story, is the story of a man who took the trail that leads to the lower ground, and of a woman, and how she found her way to the higher sunlit fields.

In the story, it all happened in the Ozark Mountains, many miles from what we call civilization. In life, it has all happened many, many times before, in many, many places. The two trails lead afar. The story, so very old, is still in the telling....

So if you love Ozarks history (like I do) you will most likely love this book. If you have already read it, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it!

By the Way, you can read the book entirely online for free by clicking here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bennett Spring State Park

Originally discovered by the Osage Indians, the James Brice family established a small town on this large spring about (located now approximately 12 miles west of Lebanon on Highway 64) in the mid 1830s. They found the large spring with its swiftly moving water to be a perfect location for grist and flour milling.
The Brice family was followed to this rich area shortly thereafter by the Peter Bennett family and although they set up rival milling operations, the two families eventually intermarried. (Whew!)

The original town of Brice...
The mill at Brice...

By the 1900s the Brice Inn was attracting tourists to the area with promises of "mountain trout fishing". In fact it is well known that the famous author, Harold Bell Wright fished in this area while serving as a Pastor for the Lebanon Missouri Christian Church in the early 1900s. References to Bennett Spring can be seen in his book The Calling of Dan Matthews, the sequal to his top-selling novel, The Shepherd of the Hills.

I think that swinging bridge over the river looks pretty scary...
I have no idea where this was located, but I bet some of you do.
In the mid 1920s the Bennett family purchased the town of Brice and a fish hatchery was opened. Bennett Spring was established as a park in 1923.

The fish hatchery....

The spring itself is quite incredible spewing over 100 million gallons of water per day. I've heard stories of divers trying to swim down into the spring to explore but the current is too strong, it is too deep, and too dark.

The store...

Today Bennett Spring offers trout fishing for rainbow and brown trout. There are seasons and structured rules to fishing at Bennett Spring and fees for fishing (and camping) vary.

Bennett Spring has a lot to offer the whole family. There are rental cabins, rental canoes, rental fishing tackle, camping and swimming. There is a nice playground and several picnic pavilions. There are marked trails for hiking.

The fish hatchery is now a huge operation and you could buy some fun "fish snacks" to feed the growing trout. Sissy-fras had fun tossing the food pellets into the water while Gramma-fras and I helped! I don't know if you can tell from the photo or not but Sissy-fras also scored a cool sweatshirt in the giftshop. Oh...and apparently (according to Papa-fras) they have the best corn dogs in the whole wide world.
You can learn more about Bennett Spring by visiting their website at: http://www.bennettspringstatepark.com/

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome to Echos of the Ozarks

For those who know me well...you know that I was itching to write! I keep an awesome family blog but wanted to do something more, so, I decided to start this blog, called Echos of the Ozarks to write about my favorite things in and around the Springfield, Missouri area.

I plan to blog about history, restaurants, things to do, folklore and legends, ghost stories, Route 66, favorite memories and other things related to the Ozarks, Springfield, Branson and the surrounding areas. If you want to guest blog for me, just let me know!

In case you wanted to know, the photo on my header is a picture of John's Modern Cabins found on historic Route 66 near Stanton. Here are a few other pics I took that day. Not much left. It was a snoop at your own risk kind of place and I kept my distance but did manage to snap a couple of really good pictures.

Again, welcome to Echos from the Ozarks!