Black Oak Ridge, Missouri Ozarks

Ozarks’ premier online magazine welcomes you!

These old hills are home to a people. A people defined by a region — a people who have come to define that region. It is easy to understand plateaus and highlands, rivers, boundaries. It is not so easy to understand a people, a culture, a sensibility. These old hills are rugged. Long ago, they attracted the desperate, the independent. The foolish.

Frenchman from New Orleans. Early British pioneers. Poor Irish immigrants, then black-dirt farmers from Indiana and Illinois. Southerners to establish Missouri as a slave state. Unionists from Ohio and Iowa. German immigrants by the scores, with high-minded sensibilities, organizational skills and a desire to escape political persecution in Europe. The foolish died quickly or moved away. The independent flourished.

The foolish died quickly or moved away.

The depraved found safety — and often became more depraved.

In the 19th century, the Ozarks were a lonely, dangerous place. And what little law and order existed before the ravages of war, there was none after. Stories of deadly bushwhackers, baldknobbers and just plain-out-and-out-coldblooded killers make for romantic legends today. It wasn’t too romantic at the time.

How would you like to walk to school one morning and find the body of a neighbor hanging from a tree? Or work from dawn ’till dusk for months, only to see locust clouds descend over the hills, eating crops, grass, even fenceposts?

Life in these hills was hard.

Out of that hardness was bred a people — a people defined as stalwart, laconic, distrustful. A people self-reliant. To define the Ozark region by its culture? Some would say these peoples are a microcosm of all that makes the United States what it is. This State of the Ozarks.

— Joshua Heston, editor April 26, 2009

State of the Ozarks is one of the definitive websites of the Ozarks.

Not a government sponsored travel site nor a local advertisement page, StateoftheOzarks is dedicated to the history, culture and the people of the Ozarks.

The Ozarks region has long been a respected place where the American Heartland still has a voice. Where time runs a little slower, the folks are friendlier, and rivers a bit cleaner. A place that stands in book end answer to elite Eastern sensibilities and the flash of LA culture.

The Ozarks are still here. And we’re still proud of that.

Spring Peeper

Spring Peepers (By Ben Dalton). “Spring peepers are some of the most iconic frogs of the Ozarks. These small tree frogs are given the scientific name Pseudacris crucifer.To read more, Click Here!

Branson Hills

Branson Past & Present. “Branson is a town constantly seeking definition — and redefinition. Is hillbilly culture real? Is the term “hillbilly” a compliment or an insult? Is Branson a cultural hub of the Ozark Mountains? Or is the town simply a regional tourist trap?” To read more, Click Here!

Wild Plums

Wild Plums. “If the thicket happens to be a good one, the plums will be syrupy sweet with just a twinge of sour, pulpy bite. All the flavors of rose blossom scent, summer sun and autumn gold infused in a single, sweet berry.” To read more, Click Here!

Beaver Bridge

Beaver Bridge. “Countless travelers have journeyed across this picturesque, one-lane bridge, the beautiful Little Golden Gate of the Ozarks.” To read more, Click Here!

Jim Barrett

Jim Barrett. “Many well-meaning mountain folk hated the loss of the river-bottom farm lands, feared the coming of land speculators, the inundation of cemeteries, schools, homes and beloved fishing spots. In the threat of a monster lake, the hill folk saw an end to their way of life.” To read more, Click Here!

International Bluegrass Music Association

Bluegrass Town. “A special kind of magic makes its way beneath a dark Carolina sky. Warm, Atlantic-tinged breezes flow through the canyon-like avenues of downtown Raleigh.” To read more, Click Here!

chinkapin oak

Baldknobber Vigilantes

(Kirbyville, MO) The early spring day [believed to be April 5, 1885] dawned bright and clear. The meeting grounds were on top of Snapp's Bald, a great treeless peak located about two miles northwest of Kirbyville, a village of approximately five miles southwest of Forsyth and not far from the Kinney home.

"Barren of timber and underbrush, the spot had been selected because sentries could insure the secrecy and security of the proceedings. This particular peak commanded a view of the countryside that discouraged interlopers from drawing nearer than a half mile."

From Baldknobbers: Vigilantes on the Ozark Frontier, 1988.

Ozark Ventriloquist Makes Good

(Pepper Flats, AR) I reckon everyone knows a person they like to brag about, a person who as “made it” out in the world. Our most famous person was the “Great Newtoni.” Actually, his name was Newt Larson and no one ever figured he’d amount to a hill of spit until he sent off for one of them there magic courses they advertise in the back of comic books.

When Newt received his magic kit, he went at it whole hog. He practiced every trick over and over again until he got to be a pretty good magician. He changed his name to the “Great Newtoni” and moved to Sylene City to work in what he called “big time show business.”

Newt landed a job on Saturdays at the Picture Palace Movie House doing a little magic show before the main feature. One Saturday, a theatrical agent saw him and liked his act and said he would liek to book him in better venues. Newt signed on with the agency and they started booking his act all over the country.

He bought a little ventriloquist figure he called “Snowball,” and he got so good at ventriloquism he dropped his magic act completely. Las Vegas wanted him. New York wanted him. Hollywood wanted him. It got where he couldn’t fill all the engagements.

Now, my daddy always told me to be nice to people on your way up because you will want them to be nice to you on your way down and that’s what happened to Newt. Just as quick as the fame happened, it was gone. The bookings got fewer and fewer and finally the agency dropped him.

While reading a newspaper one day, Newt noticed a thing called “psychic readings” was very popular. He watched the psychics on television and realized with his magic and ventriloquism he could do the same thing. He rented a little shop in downtown Pepper Flats with a sign reading “Psychic Readings - $25, $50, and $75.”

One day a lady came in and said, “My husband passed away about three years ago and I would like to talk to him. Please tell me the difference betetween the $25, $50 and $75 readings.”

“Very simple,” Newt answered. “For $25, you may talk to your husband. For $50, you may talk to your husband and your husband will talk to you. And for $75, you may talk to your husband and your husband will talk to you while I drink a glass of water!”

From Arkansas Red’s Hillbilly Happenin’s.

State of the Ozarks

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