Posts Tagged ‘Ozarks’

Montauk State Park

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Fisherman travel from other states to Opening Day (March 1) at Montauk State Park.  This Mid-west premier trout park has brought visitors since the 1800’s.  “The springs in the northern end of Montauk State Park combine with tiny Pigeon Creek to form the headwaters of the famed Current River. The park attracts anglers for the outstanding trout fishing, and vacationers flock to Montauk during the summer months to enjoy the variety of outdoor activities available in the park and the surrounding region.” Ozark people go out of their way to show people around and to talk about the region.  Their friendly nature is what keeps visitors coming back each year.

“Early residents came to the area from New York and named their first post office after Montauk in Suffolk County, Long Island. Because of its proximity to the springs and its abundant supply of water power, the village of Montauk proved to be an excellent spot for milling. A total of four mills served the community at various times. Take a tour of the historic mill, which is more than 100 years old. This historic site was a vital part of the Montauk Community into the 1920s. Built in 1896, the “Old Mill” had elaborate milling machinery. Much of it is still located there. Free guided tours of the mill are given on weekends. Hours vary, depending on demand and scheduled group tours. New schedules are posted each week showing times and dates for available public tours. For information regarding tours or to schedule a special group tour, contact the park naturalist at 573-548-2207.”


Stay in the cabins located on the park from $78 a night to $131.  “The cabins, motel, dining lodge, store and snack bar are operated by Montauk Resorts, LLC, a Forever Resorts property.  John Johnston, general manager, and his friendly team are ready to make your visit to Montauk State Park an enjoyable experience.  For more information about the concession facilities, please visit their website or call 573-548-2434.Rise early to hike the trails or to sink a line in the river.” Summer months would be the ideal time to float down the current river, hike the trails and to fish to your hearts delight.  Many do not want to deal with bugs in the summer though and arrive early in the spring to avoid mosquito and tick season.  Or just bring a good hat and plenty of bug spray for the cool summer months.  Weather during the summer stays around mid- 80’s to 90’s.  Take a dip in the cold river to cool off too. Trout tags at the park is $3 daily for adults. You can buy this at the park store. A fishing permit for residents is $12.  You can purchase these at a local hunting and fishing store.images (40)

“You don’t have to be an angler, however, to enjoy all that Montauk State Park and the surrounding region have to offer. The Current River is known as one of the finest canoeing rivers in the Midwest. Although canoes are not allowed within the state park boundaries, the northernmost canoe access to the Current River, Tan Vat, is located just below the park’s southeast border. Both the Current River and the nearby Jack’s Fork River have been designated as National Scenic Riverways by the National Park Service, which helps preserve them in their natural, free-flowing state. Additional information about area canoe rental agencies can be obtained from the park office or lodge.” Canoe rentals from Jadwin on the Current River costs $50 per kayak on a 8 mile float or $87 for a canoe for the same length of river. Call Jadwin at 1-800-937-4837 to reserve or find pricing on boat rentals.

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Your budget should be at least $1500 to cover food, lodging, traveling expenses, fishing tags, boat rentals and souvenirs from the store.  There is handicap access to the river, lodging campgrounds, picnic area and store.  Visitors of all ages will find activities to do at the park.  images (41)

The covered picnic areas are a great place to have some scalloped turnips with ham and sweet potato pie.



“Hiking one of the park’s trails is an excellent way to view the area’s natural environment. Several species of native Missouri wildflowers can be viewed around the springs and along the Current River. Pine Ridge Trail takes hikers out of the valley, through a portion of the park’s natural area, and along the scenic hilltops. For a more leisurely walk, visitors can see Bluff Spring along the level Montauk Lake Trail.” Bring your camera to capture all the beauty in the Ozark hills. Park map is below:

Montauk (1)

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The trip will take at least 2 hours. Traveling from Springfield, MO you will see the Ozark hills and wildlife. Hunters will be temped with the abundance of deer and turkeys in the area.

 Find the map below:


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From the middle of Missouri down into Arkansas, the Ozark hills spread over the country like a green blanket.  The history of the people there are considered strange and backwards with their magic and folklore.  Their beliefs are similar to the mountain folk in the Appalachians.  Selling moonshine and being superstitious is one of the many peculiarities of this endangered culture.

In a novel, Ozark Magic and Folklore, written by Vance Randolph, there is a collection of their past beliefs and way of living.  Randolph chronicles his time among the Ozarkians, in the late 1800’s to the 1920’s,  in this in-depth look of a culture.  They believe in yarb doctors instead of civilized medicine from the cities.  A yarb doctor is one who uses herbs.  “Some of these nature doctors are women, others are preachers who do a little doctorin’ on the side, and many of them are unable to read or write.” Today though there are less and less people who use natural medicines. In my own family though there were some older family members who believed in natural medicines.  Modern medicine slowly replaced their way of thinking.

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The movie The Shepherd of the Hills, starring John Wayne, is set in the Ozarks. “A mysterious stranger arrives in the Missouri hills and befriends a young backwoods girl. Much to the dislike of her moonshiner fiancé who has vowed to find and kill his own father.”(IMDb)

“Young Matt Mathews, an Ozark Mountains moonshiner, hates the father he has never seen, who apparently deserted Matt’s mother and left her to die. His obsession contributes to the hatred rampant in the mountains. However, the arrival of a stranger, Daniel Howitt, begins to positively affect the mountain people, who learn to shed their hatred under his gentle influence the shepherd of the hills.” (Tony Ray – YouTube)  When one of the other mountain people encounter this ill fated family they avoid them and chant spells to ward off evil hexes.

The music played was the typical Hollywood style with large ballads played by orchestras.  The director, Henry Hathaway,  filmed this exceptionally well and the panoramic views of the Ozarks were captured in all their splendor.  The dialect and words were hard to understand at times but closely resembled the speech of the hillbillies.  Clothes and lack of footwear were portrayed accurately also. My favorite part was when Sammy would chant and make marks in the dirt.  This part can be found at 31.22 into the movie.  My overall rating of this movie in it’s historical likeness to the Ozarks and it’s people is two thumbs up.  Maybe I’m a sucker for a John Wayne movie, but I loved the story.


The connections I see in this movie and my time of living in the Ozarks, was running around barefoot on dirt roads and working hard.  People still today have sheep on their farms.  My in-laws had sheep on their farm until two years ago.  They would sheer them and sell the wool. It was very rare when a sheep was slaughtered.  I never heard of hexes or curses in the Ozarks.  And I don’t remember ever seeing anyone make a sign in the dirt and spit on it.  These practices are long dead in the Ozarks.  If they are practiced, then it is not where I have seen them.

The novel by Randolph and the 1941 movie with John Wayne have  similar connections with hexes and beliefs.  I could see many  things in common like not stepping in a puddle of water on a muddy road because it would be bad luck.  Or covering your eyes from dead spirits.  Similar things were documented in the novel.

Today you will not find a lot of superstitious people.  There are still good native Ozark people, but with their heritage almost forgotten they have become almost like the rest of the country.  Modern education, medicine, technical advances and conveniences have changed them and their culture.  It is sad too loose a language and culture of people.  Like the Indians who are becoming a race of lost culture, the Ozark people are loosing a part of themselves too.

There is only one Appalachian mountain top left in it’s natural state.  The others have been cut off and mined.  The people there suffer from cancers and other illnesses because of the water being polluted from the mining.  The world we live in is changing and our natural resources are in demand constantly.  But the human resource should be looked at as precious too.  When we loose all the different heritages in our country, then we loose a part of ourselves.  This novel and movie captures a part of our history we must never forget.

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Works Cited

Beaver, Jim. IMDb. n.d. electronic. 6 November 2014. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034182/&gt;.

Randolph, Vance. Ozark Magic and Folklore. New York: Dover Publications, 1947. paperback.




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The “Songcatcher” is a beautiful story about historical culture that changes a woman. Sweeping views of the mountains brings to mind the Ozarks in Missouri. The mountain people have artists of all kinds; basket weavers, painters that capture the scenery, and musicians.
The “Songcatcher” is an independent movie. Written and directed by Maggie Greenwald. With actors Janet McTeer who plays Dr. Lily Penleric, and Aidan Quinn who plays Tom. In her first appearing role in a movie is Emmy Rossum who plays the part of Deladis, the assistant to Dr. Penleric. The genre is a drama and sentimental movie. The time era is early 1900’s and the setting is the Appalachian mountains.
The beginning starts with Dr. Penleric who is an assisting professor at a university teaching music to students. She is a musicologist and is very passionate about her work. She is under paid and wants to become a full time professor but the board does not want a woman professor. Quitting she leaves to visit her sister in the Appalachian mountains. Lily’s sister is a teacher at a small school there in the mountains, along with her partner. There she discovers that the mountain folk have the original English-Scottish ballads that she has been studying. Lily employs Deladis to sing for her so she can record the music. Dr. Lily Penleric travels around the mountains lugging her huge gramophone and recording from different folk the ballads they sing. Lily believes that this true form of music should be recorded and shared like a great archeology find. Lily meets Tom who is a hardened mountain man that came back “from the other world” to be a talented musician. He doesn’t want her stealing their music just to have her book published but Lily says she is willing to pay them. Soon after he warms up to her and sees that she is helping the mountain people feel proud of their traditions and culture. They see that their artwork and music is more than entertainment but a legacy that should be recorded for others to hear and see.
When Dr. Penleric receives a letter from a colleague from the university saying that she will be Whittle’s assistant in the research, she becomes upset. Lily had worked hard for all the music she had gathered from the people. She learned to love their cultures and understood them. She saw how hard they work to live on the mountains. They suffer with starvation, no medical doctors to help with illnesses or the birth of babies, and poor education. Plus they have business men coming knocking on their doors wanting them to sell their land so they can modernize the mountains. The business men want the untapped coal mines to fund the progress of towns and schools to be built there.
The climax of the movie stems from hatred, discrimination, adulteress, and misunderstandings. The school is burned to the ground along with their house next to it. Lily’s work is destroyed. Rather than start over and collect the music again for the book Lily decides to leave the mountains. Dr. Penleric wants to start a new adventure and she must convince Tom to leave his home in the mountains to be with her in the city.
Beautiful songs abound in the movie along with the breathtaking scenery. The mountains are a wonderful place to live, and the people there have a way of life, with folk music at the heart of it. Four stars for this movie.
This movie can now be rented at : https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Songcatcher
Or to buy on: http://www.amazon.com/Songcatcher

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