My “regulars” will recall the “VW Bug Ranch” as the only thing remotely alive in Conway, TX. But here in Conway, MO, the Conway Bears proudly display their name (I was hoping for a mascot as well!) on the city water tower. In other words, this Conway town is alive and well! We recall that if you stop on the I44 State Rest Stops, they include a map engraved in the marble floors that includes “Conway”.
We found our preferred “local” cafe/eatery at the edge of town for a good lunch and inquired if anyone knew just which Conway was responsible for getting the town named for them. Blank looks all around, so that mystery remains a mystery.
The hills are the predominant feature of all the Route 66 roads in this part of the state. I have confirmed my early postulation of “Conways First Law of Bicycling”: i.e. “Any downhill road that crosses a body of water that is flowing will be more than offset by an equal or longer uphill at an even greater slope”. Not a complaint, just a (firm) observation.
A few small towns up the road from Conway is Marshfield, MO. A nice little town whose main claim to fame is its being the birthplace of Edwin Hubble. To commemorate that little bit of fate, the town has erected a one quarter scale model of the famed Hubble Telescope. The kids needed a little primer in recent history to appreciate the value of this amazing technological and engineering accomplishment. A quick “aside” here; Cathy has been reading an excellent resource book to the kids entitled: “101 Facts About Catholic Church History”. A Belgian priest named Fr. Lematre advanced the theory of a “primeval atom”, stating that the cosmos originated from an initial burst of light and has grown outward in a constant state of expansion ever since”. And he stated that in 1927! Hubbell referenced the good Friar’s work in much of his own writing.
And now from the expanding cosmos to the proliferation of watercraft! I’m a pretty good judge of acreage, and I estimated that this is an 80 acre field (that’s 80 football fields to the rest of you) that was covered wheel hub to wheel hub with brand new pleasure boats, all made by just one manufacturer. Can there be that many customers that are in the market to buy a new boat this year??? I was agog, and I don’t agog very often.
We don’t stray from the Route very often, but when we do it’s for a good reason. We have occasionally been in this part of the country on family reunions and other vacation related trips, and on each of them Cathy has remarked that she would like to go to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Other than some really spectacular Ozark scenery, its main attraction are these ruins from the first decade of the 20th century. As with so many very wealthy Americans in this pre-income tax era, Mr. Fred Snyder of Kansas City had literally more money than he could spend. His visits to Europe convinced him that he needed a “home” like the royalty had there. He hired a Scottish architect to draw up plans for a “castle”, bought up more than a thousand acres of land in the Ozark mountains, and set about building his dream. Scottish quarrymen and stonemasons were also brought from abroad to do the work and train the American laborers. A quarry was hewn out of the hills about two miles away from the site of the house high on a promontory cliff and the quarried stone was hauled to the site on a light rail pulled by mules.
All this great effort and expense, but the finger of fate was poised against the family. Less than a year into the project, My. Snyder was killed in, of all things, a car wreck, and this in 1906! The project languished for a decade until his sons were able to continue. When the roaring 20’s turned into the depression 30’s, the scope of the plans contracted with them.
That statement may seem to be contradicted by these photos, but much more was planned than was actually built. There was an elaborate water pressure system that brought water up from a spring 250 feet below and stored it in a tower to provide constant water for the house and outer buildings.
World War 2 derailed the completion as workers went off to fight or work. And then, as if to punctuate the star-crossed nature of the entire endeavor, the manor house burned to the ground in 1947. We were all glad that we had taken the side trip to visit, but the sad events of it all left us with a case of melancholy.
A perfect antidote to melancholy is the quality reading/studying time with Izzy. She has been composing a story for one of her “Home School” classes and she has a superb tutor in Gramma Cathy.
Hoping there’s enough wifi power to get this out to the ethernet tonight! I’m still a .day or two behind, but I don’t want to press my luck.
Thanks for coming along.