Welcome back. Returning this week from what Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called the “poultry capitol of the world.” I found Springdale, Arkansas has quite a history. Founded in 1838, the town was originally called Shiloh but its name was changed in 1872 when the town leaders applied for a post office. I also discovered that this place is growing in population big time. The growth is driven by the poultry business; especially Tyson Foods which is Springdale’s largest employer followed by two other poultry giants George’s, Inc. and Cargill. I was in town for a book signing but I did have time to explore some. I found that like other small communities dependent on one or two big companies there’s lots of giving back to the community by the companies which is reflected in the names of many of the town’s public areas. Randall Tyson Recreational Complex, Helen Tyson Middle School, Don Tyson Elementary School, Don Tyson Parkway, I think you get the picture. It’s all about chickens, from hatching to our dinner plates, and friends this town feeds chickens to a big part of the country.
From seventy thousand people to well over five hundred thousand, this week I’m headed to what some call the birthplace of Route 66. Known as the “Queen City of the Ozarks” and home to numerous colleges and universities including Missouri State, Drury and the Evangel University, by now most of you may have guessed I’m on my way to the Springfield/Branson metropolitan area where there is a lot of American history. Part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, this land was originally Delaware Indian treaty land. The Kickapoo were also here and the infamous Cherokee Trail of Tears passed through the area as well.
Incorporated in 1838, by 1858 the Butterfield Overland Stage Line was taking passengers from the region to California as the town was becoming a vital roadway to the west. The coming of the railroad brought more growth as cities like Tulsa, Kansas City and Memphis became more accessible. 1861 brought the Civil War to Springfield culminating with the Battle of Pea Ridge when the Union Army gained control of Missouri. To this day many consider Pea Ridge to be the most historically pristine battle site remaining from the Civil War.
Here’s a little more history about the town before I go:
Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt had a shootout on Main Street which left Tutt dead.
According to Wikipedia, mobster John Gotti died in Springfield after being transferred there for health reasons.
In 1926 the new Chicago to Los Angeles highway known as Route 66 was officially opened, passing through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona along the way.
During the 1950s Springfield ranked third behind New York and Hollywood for originating network television shows. Four programs from Springfield were broadcast nationally from 1955 to 1961: Ozark Jubilee, Five Star Jubilee, Talent Varieties and the Eddy Arnold Show.
Today the town is known for its hospitality and educational institutions and with 92 parks and recreational areas; I’m looking forward to getting in some exercise. I’ll give you a run down next week along with the history of Cleveland, OK and the Cimarron land run which I’ll be visiting the following week.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..