Identification of Ozark Cultural Structures and Sites on the National Register of Historic Places and Cultural Properties With National Register Potential
Most historic properties in Ozark National Scenic Riverways are on the National Register of Historic Places. Of the seventy-eight structures on the List of Classified Structures (LCS) for the Riverways, fifty-six are on the National Register. Two nominations in progress include one other structure on the LCS and ten buildings not listed on the LCS.
Only two of the National Register structures, the Chilton House and the Reed Log House (Macy Cabin), predate the corporate railroad and lumber era that dominated the history of the Current River between 1880 and 1920. The Chilton House (see Figure 2) was listed in the Chilton-Williams Farm Complex nomination. Descendants of Thomas Boggs Chilton built the house, c. 1869-1879. The National Register nomination describes the building as one of the oldest remaining structures in Shannon County. In 1912, the Chilton family sold the farm. The National Register nomination of the Chilton-Williams Farm Complex contains 17 contributing structures, which includes the Chilton House. Subsequent owners erected the additional structures. These include a second farmhouse and thirteen outbuildings that in style and quantity are rather atypical of Ozark farms along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers.1
The Reed Log House (see Figure 1) contains a single-pen-log home (c. 1857-1870) with a rear L addition (c. 1885) and porch addition (c. 1910) and displays a vernacular form of building and scale more common to the region than the many building of the Chilton-Williams Complex. The additions to the log house also reflected the common practice of adapting a frontier house for continued use. As the nomination for the Reed Log House states: "The house reveals in its three primary components the pioneer era, through the log structure; the entrance of the lumbering industry and the railroads, in its board-and-batten L and limestone cellar; and the widespread availability of consumer goods and the desire for stability in the early twentieth century, expressed through the poured concrete porch." The property also includes a detached cistern as a contributing structure. The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recommended nominating a section of the Historic Buttin Rock Road to the National Register. This is a nineteenth century road trace that parallels the river near the Reed Log House. It is listed on the LCS. The Midwest Region needs to investigate a conceptual format for nominating this local road.
Although few structures dating before 1880 exist on the Riverways, significant historic sites are components of archeological sites listed on the National Register. For example, these include the Isaac Kelley Site, Phillips Bay Mill, and the Old Eminence Site (see Base Map 1). The Isaac Kelley Site contains the plantation site of Isaac E. Kelley, one of the earliest American settlers on the Current River. The Phillips Bay Mill was a sawmill that James Dearing and members of the Kelley family operated from the 1830s to the 1860s. This mill and five to seven others like it were part of an early lumber industry along the Current River. The Phillips Bay Mill sawed anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 board feet of pine per year and marketed the lumber in the local area and in Arkansas. The Old Eminence Site identifies the location of the first county seat of Shannon County. From the 1840s to the mid 1860s, it served as the political hub of a dispersed open community on the upper Current River. The Shannon County courthouse and jail stood at this locale until they were destroyed during the Civil War.
The vast majority of the historic structures date to the railroad and corporate lumber era and to the rise of modern recreation in the Current Valley. The Walter Klepzig Mill and Farm and the Alley Spring Roller Mill are the only mills still standing in the Riverways. The Alley Roller Mill, built in 1893, was a water-powered turbine mill and the last of a succession of mills built at Alley Spring. A small hamlet developed around the mill and became a favorite gathering place for Shannon County residents celebrating holidays and festivals (see Figures 16-18 and 37-39). In 1924, the state purchased the site as one of the first Missouri State Parks. The people of Shannon County continue to have a strong attachment to the mill. The state has adopted the mill as a symbol of its heritage and frequently has displayed photographs of the mill in promotional brochures and calendars. The Alley Spring Roller Mill was a merchant mill and larger than most mills in the Current Valley. In contrast, the Klepzig Mill is the lone surviving mill of its type in and around the Current River Valley. As the National Register nomination notes: "The Klepzig farm is one of very few grist mill sites which continues to communicate the relationship between a small Ozark mill and the farm of which it is a part." Built in 1912, Walter Klepzig constructed this mill using sawmill construction, a building type introduced in the Ozarks by the large lumber companies. Five of the structures on the LCS contribute to the Walter Klepzig Mill and Farm National Register property.
Like the Klepzig Mill and Farm, the Nichols Farm District displays a turn-of-the-century Ozark cultural landscape. The Nichols National Register property (see Figures 23-29) contains a house (c. 1910), barn (c. 1910), and corncrib (c. 1932). The Nichols' nomination emphasizes the significance of this property to the Riverways: "The unmodified condition of the Nichols farmstead represents the culture and lifestyle of persons who lived along the Upper Current River and is the only farm in the park which exhibits a high degree of typicality and integrity." The Nichols family built there farm and lived in a manner that exemplified the persistence of the Scotch-Irish frontier tradition into the early twentieth century Ozarks.
National Register nominations of the Lower Parker School (c. 1905) and the Buttin Rock School (c. 1912) (see Figures 21-22), reflecting the rise of public education as part of the rapid changes occurring between 1880 and 1920, recently accepted by the Keeper of the National Register. They are part of a Multiple Property Documentation for Missouri Ozarks Rural Schools. The two nominated properties, with accompanying privies, involve three structures on the LCS. An additional schoolhouse, Cedargrove School (c. 1930), was reviewed in the late 1970s by the National Park Service and the Missouri SHPO and considered ineligible for the National Register. In the summer of 1990, consultations with the Missouri SHPO on the National Register eligibility of the Riverways historic properties resulted in an agreement that Cedargrove School should be reevaluated. The Midwest Region and the SHPO felt that it should be reconsidered because of recent literature on vernacular stone architecture in Missouri and because the schoolhouse is now over fifty years old. The two agencies also considered another schoolhouse, the Story Creek School (c. 1900), as an unlikely candidate for the Register because it lacks locational integrity. Citizens of Shannon County donated the school to the park, and it was moved from its historic site to Alley.
The other properties on the National Register or that appear eligible for the Register relate to the rise of modern recreation and government intervention in the Current River valley. The Big Spring Historic District (see Figures 48-51) is the most intact and accessible historic area in the Riverways. Located in the former Big Spring State Park, the historic district centers around a major Civilian Conservation Corps development in the park between 1933 and 1937. Properties built by the state and other federal New Deal agencies, however, are also included in the district. The resources contain twenty-seven structures listed on the LCS, including an entrance building, fifteen rental cabins, several maintenance and service structures, a dining lodge, latrine, picnic shelters, foot bridge, and other structures. Additional research on the Big Spring Historic District by the park for interpretive exhibits have discovered that a picnic shelter and possible an open shelter house within the district were omitted from the original nomination and need to be added to the National Register listing. This is a valid recommendation because amending the Big Spring nomination would not only complete the district, but it could also provide an opportunity to clarify the construction dates and builders of some of the structures in the district. As it stands, the Big Spring nomination form is very thinly documented. In addition, ten cabins of the Shannon County Hunting and Fishing Club (see Figure 36) are in the process of being nominated as a historic district related to modern recreation on the Riverways. These structures do not appear in the LCS. They are in western Shannon County on the Jacks Fork River.
Along with the Story Creek School, the Midwest Region and the Missouri SHPO agreed that the Maggard Cabin, Akers Ferry, W. Partney House, Cotton Farm, and the Round Spring Store would be difficult to nominate to the National Register. Vandals dismantled the Maggard Cabin, but it was recovered and partially reassembled. The Akers Ferry has been rebuilt a number of times and, although it is the last remaining ferry on the Riverway, it has very little historic fabric left. The W. Partney House is a rather large farmhouse compared to small farmhouses more common to the Riverways' past. It lacks historical significance. The integrity of the Cotton Farm was compromised in remodeling the property as a park residence. The Round Spring Store is an excellent example of a early twentieth century rural Ozark store; however, it has been moved by the Park Service and, like the Story Creek School, lacks locational integrity. The Midwest Region, in consultation with the Missouri SHPO, decided against nominating these properties to the National Register because of the factors stated above.
In the discussions between the Midwest Region and the Missouri SHPO, the issue of whether or not to nominate the Ramsey Barn, Pulltite Cabin, Owls Bend School, and the Old Railroad Right-of-Way of the Current River Railroad near Big Spring remained undetermined. The Midwest Region suggested not nominating the Ramsey Barn and the Pulltite Cabin because of insufficient historic significance, but the SHPO wanted more information on these properties before concurring with this suggestion. The three additional properties, Owls Bend School, the Schockley barn and Old Railroad Right-of-Way, mentioned above have not been discussed with the SHPO yet. The Midwest Region probably will recommend not pursuing nominations at this time. The school has been adapted by the park for maintenance use and the Railroad Right-of-Way has an integrity problem because the tracks were removed in the 1930s.
The Midwest Archeological Center prepared National Register nominations for two sites, Two Rivers Site and Round Spring Archeological District, that were forwarded to the Missouri SHPO in August 1991. The Round Spring nomination contains two nineteenth-century mill sites. Additional cultural sites will require future evaluation. For example during the summer of 1991, archeologists uncovered the site of an early nineteenth-century trappers cabin at Rocky Falls. Two 1983 studies, Archaeological Investigations in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, 1981-1982 by James Price et al. and Reported Historic Period Sites in Ozark National Scenic Riverways by Cynthia Price identify a number of historic sites. These include early settlement period home and stores sites such as the Kelley plantation and the Deatherage store, possible Indian camps and villages, as well as lumber and recreation era sites such as logging tram line remnants and ruins of the Carter County Fishing and Shooting Clubhouse. Further survey and inventory of cultural landscapes would help determine which cultural sites maintain sufficient significance and integrity to warrant future National Register evaluation or special studies such as cultural landscape reports.
Last Updated: 02-Mar-2005