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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Crooked roads came from Osage trails

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You may be getting old if you find yourself trying to remember where certain roads had once been.

Many roads in southern Missouri began as Osage Indian trails used for migration, hunting and trading. Henry Schoolcraft, in his famous 1818 journal, told about the Osage trails along the White River.

The Osage Indians controlled most of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, south of the Missouri River, long before the Spanish treasure hunters and French explorers came to the area.

According to accounts by settlers, one of the earliest roads followed the Warm Fork River from Mammoth Spring to Clifton, crossing the stream at N. B. Allen ford.

Of course, that was long before the railroad laid out the town of Thayer in 1882.

The old iron bridge across Warm Fork which was removed in 2008, shortened that route considerably.

Then, a concrete bridge was built across Warm Fork on Highway 19 (it's the third bridge on that spot, which is sometimes called the Green Lantern Bridge by old-timers, because there was a notorious night spot on the high south bank of the river below the bridge). Then, when the viaduct at Thayer (still in use today) over Two Mile Creek and the railroad tracks were built in 1930, the old original Warm Fork road, (much of it still exists) was relegated to local traffic.

Along with the viaduct came the 63 bypass (now designated Highway 19) on the west edge of Thayer.

Franquetin's Trail from the Arkansas line to Jefferson City eventually became U.S. Highway 63 in the 1920s.

The original hard surfaced "63" between Thayer and West Plains was re-engineered in 1953-54 and parts of it again in the late 50s.

At any rate, it's taken many years and a ton of the tax payer's money to straighten out some of those old trails favored by the Osage.

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