Living in the Land of Oaks

by Andrew on March 19, 2011

I had a chance this week to gather some radio interviews for our American Countryside broadcasts in southeastern Missouri.  The state’s bootheel has thousands of acres of flat fertile farmland.  It is quite a contrast to the Ozarks that bound the area on the north and west. 

If you have a chance to travel in this area, you should take time to visit a couple of state park sites near East Prairie.  Big Oak Tree State Park is named for one Burr Oak that was the largest of its species.  In the early 1900s, local residents knew the location of the giant tree among the swampy forests along the Mississippi River.  They would take visitors into the timber to view the large oak.

That tree died in the 1950s, but many state and national champion trees remain.  A boardwalk takes you through the forest and swamp.  Over the years the fertile land was drained allowing farmers to grow crops.  This park preserves over one thousand acres of what this area once looked like.

Adjacent to Big Oak Tree is Towosahgy State Historic Site.  It is the remains of a Mississippian village and ceremonial center occupied from around 1000-1400.  It shows the type of cities that once dotted the landscape up and down the vast river bottom. 

Both sites are free, you simply have to make the drive to get there in extreme southeastern Missouri.

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