Although unmarked, this circa 1890 cabinet photograph of a family gathering was acquired locally, and really looks like it was taken beside an Ozark river. Guitars, guns, and gatherings in riverine settings are Ozark traditions. Our ancestors seem to have dressed up a little more for such outings than we do today, but the strong connection between family kinship and nature remains constant.
In The Ozarks: Land and Life, Milton Rafferty described the relationship of Ozarks people and their landscape:
Generations of the same family often lived in the same community so that family history intermingled with the landscape in an uncommon way. Life is integrated with the landscape in a natural way that is understood by everyone. Thus the Ozarker is a kind of homespun Lockian who thinks of the landscape as an object that penetrates the mind and alters the man.
From Chapter 3, “Gravelly Geography,” of our forthcoming book, James Fork of the White: Transformation of An Ozark River.
Real photo postcard by Hall. Probably taken in Stone County, Missouri, but Arkansas sounded more primitive. The hog’s board collar is to keep it out of fenced gardens. Cattle and hogs were released in the woods to feed themselves. The destructive rooting of feral pigs was, and still is, an environmental problem.
Though the hillbilly icon didn’t emerge for several decades, the Ozarks has been depicted as a primitive place inhabited by people living a pioneer lifestyle since the early 1800s. This mythos was rejected by progressive Springfieldians, but in Galena, and the White River Hills, it was a component of tourism.
Arkansas was held to be slightly more regressive than southern Missouri but only slightly so.
(Page 72 in the forthcoming book, James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River.)
In 2012 we published a 304-page book about the transformation of a big, muddy river that rises in the tall grass Kansas prairie then cuts into the northern flank of the Ozark uplift before emptying into the even muddier Missouri River. Damming the Osage is a history of engineering interventions justified by questionable hydrologic theories. Human cupidity orchestrated many of these unharmonious projects.
This October, we will publish our second “river book”: James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River. In this we look at the watershed of the river that rises in Webster County near Marshfield, wends its way to Springfield, running along its eastern edge and then drains south to Table Rock. The James – unlike the Osage – feels the effects of a major metropolitan area on its watershed. The James was a storied Ozark float stream; the Osage, a prairie-born, rich but unspectacular stream, home to a prehistoric fish.
The James is definitely a different river and this is a different book. More pages (352), more illustrations (because we have more pages!) to examine, discuss and showcase that different river and the people who live and recreate along its course.
Look for it this fall!
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We’re moving our Lens & Pen Press blog from Blogger to Word Press and will consolidate the two current blogs into one for our books–the Beautiful and Enduring Ozarks, the James Fork of the White (coming 2017), Damming the Osage, Mystery of the Irish Wilderness and See the Ozarks–and many other favorite topics of discussion. The archive of L&P posts is still available at http://lensandpen.blogspot.com/ The posts on our separate Damming the Osage website remain available at http://www.dammingtheosage.com/the-blog/
To bridge this move from one platform to another, below is the most recent (Blogger) post about Table Rock and the pre-dam White River landscape:
Shortly after Empire District Electric built Powersite Dam across the White River, creating Lake Taneycomo, the big electric company announced plans to build a 200-foot dam upriver at Table Rock Bluff.
“Table Rock Dam will be built across the big sandbar,” reads the handwritten caption.
Real photo postcard, 1920s, by Payne Johnson, Branson, Mo.
Most bluffs along Ozark rivers are named. Table Rock Bluff had a relatively flat top and was accessible by road. A visit to this overlook was on many vacationers’ itinerary. For decades locals anticipated seeing machinery in the valley below building a huge dam. That this never occurred frustrated dam supporters and led them to question if the utility really intended to proceed. They didn’t.
The Army Corps would build Table Rock Dam many years later but the Corps didn’t build it at Table Rock. They moved the location two miles upstream to a more stable geological site, but kept the name. Table Rock Bluff remains a popular scenic overlook, but is now fenced for safety – unlike the past as shown here.
COMING IN 2017: JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozark River.
Sample pages from this new book can be seen at www.beautifulozarks.com
Our earlier ‘river book,’ DAMMING THE OSAGE, can be seen at www.dammingtheosage.com
#NPR mourns the loss of photojournalist #David #Gilkey, who died last week in Afghanistan. He and #Zabihullah Tamanna, journalist and interpreter, were killed when their vehicle was hit by an RPG (sad that we all know what that acronym means).
In 2008, Gilkey had a very different assignment here in the #Ozarks – photographing fiddlers in Mountain View, Arkansas. Gilkey and David Green attended the annual Mountain View folk festival and reported, “In Arkansas, Fiddlers Try To Preserve Local Tunes.” The story and a slide show of Gilkey’s photographs are still online: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94076332