Historic Roads

Highway 65

by Joshua Heston

I was sitting outside at dusk the other night here in Hollister, Missouri, listening to cicadas and coyotes, when I noticed a low and occasional roar. Finally realized it was truck traffic out on Highway 65.

Highway 65, which runs through the Ozarks (and through Iowa) seems a highway intersecting my life.

As a boy, I’d stand on a high hill in southern Iowa, overlooking this road. It was there — barefoot in the dusty summer loam, in the shade of some truly ancient and gnarled maples pierced with rusty barbed wire — I’d watch truck traffic slow down, hear 18 wheels on a rumble strip, and wonder where those trucks were headed.

In my grandpa’s day, I knew he stood in a field not far from my hill, watched trains of the Burlington Northern Railroad, and wondered where those cars were going.

For my generation, evocative steam trains were replaced by the low whine of trucks or the high, silver contrails of a jet. To me, trucks were more fun than jets.

Trucks followed the road.

Later, Highway 65 became my road to the Ozarks, gateway to the South. It was a route of remaining roadside peach stands, crumbling rock cuts, the soaring Cliff Drive Bridge (which crosses 65 in Branson).

It was the road to music.

And it has become a ribbon of road connecting everything in my world, really. All the way from the venerable Lucas Hill and the memory of my grandparents in southern Iowa to Branson and then over the rugged Arkansas mountains to Little Rock.

I find it compelling I can still hear the trucks rumbling along, leading the way to a future yet unwritten. Some folks rail against big old truck traffic. But for me, it’s just the sound of life, oddly melodic, still calling me along.

August 14, 2011

All photo credits: J. Heston. Plate 1, Highway NN, Shannon County, Missouri (2/20/09); Plate 2, Rural Christian County, Missouri (2/25/09)

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Historic Roads

by Joshua Heston

What makes a road? Down in the hills, roads take many a form. A cow trail, winding the thin edge of a ridge.

An old, weathered blacktop, gently tracing the ways of an earlier generation. Or a massive, four-lane highway.

All are roads.

And many have a story. From the old, old “Wilderness Road” to historic Route 66, there’s so many stories just waiting to be told.

And stories is what StateoftheOzarks is all about.

August 22, 2009

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backroads

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