A Place to Be, Someday! Culmination of a Dream

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 3/23/22

I know that folks in Houston Missouri have doubts about the Big Piney-Old Time Ozarks museum I am going to build. But it is going to happen, in time, and here is why.

Logs, lumber and fireplace …

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A Place to Be, Someday! Culmination of a Dream


I know that folks in Houston Missouri have doubts about the Big Piney-Old Time Ozarks museum I am going to build. But it is going to happen, in time, and here is why.

Logs, lumber and fireplace rocks to make this a beautiful, strong building, 28 by 40 feet, is all free. That’s right, all is free.

To make a building like I want to make, I am getting help and advice from Fred Hoppe, a foremost museum expert (he owns four) and sculptor. (see his website)

I plan a 28 by 40 log building with no windows and wooden floors like you could see in old country stores. All the lumber will be cedar, collected from Bull Shoals Lake, logs that have laid there to weather and dry for 70 years. I am talking about thousands of them, from a few inches in diameter to more than fifteen inches. I was a naturalist for the National Park Service in the mid 1970’s and did contract work as in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission during winter months.

There were times during the winter that I had little to do but write and explore Bull Shoals Lake, back then little-developed and fairly wild. Along the high water line of the giant lake were the huge, cedar logs which were seasoned to a point over the years that the white outer wood had decayed away, leaving only beautifully grained red wood inside that had long since been devoid of sap and oil you find in green, live trees. I took a chain saw and cut a fireplace mantel out of one that was twelve inches wide, 6 inches thick and eight foot long, one of the most beautiful mantels I have ever seen. It took me an hour and I sold it to a man building a new home for 200 dollars. In the seventies, that was a lot of money. Then I met a man in Wisconsin by the name of Dave Ladd who had a business called Walnut Hollow Farms, where he had been cutting and selling walnut and basswood plaques around the country to craft shops. Ladd was building a business that employed hundreds of people, and he told me he thought cedar plaques would sell great. I went to the Corps of Engineers and got a permit to cut a bunch of those logs. I and s friend and fellow naturalist back then by the name of John Green, went to work cutting and hauling about 100 big cedar logs back to a place where we could store them and about a week later we rented a big U-haul truck and calculated the maximum weight in cedar logs, hauling a big load too Dodgeville, Wis. I think in the winter of 78 we hauled 3 loads to Dave and he paid us well. When we calculated what we were making with the hours we put in, against the expense involved it was better than 40 dollars an hour. And remember, that was 1978. You can see photos of those Walnut Hollow products on my BlogSpot, www.larrydablemontooutdoors.blogspot.com. You can also see what those logs look like today on Bull Shoals Lake. John and I got into other things that gave us lots of time outdoors. With the writing I was doing back then for Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, plus weekly newspaper columns and contract naturalist work I continued to do, there wasn’t time for the logs. But now I want to see them used, rather than left to decay away. I am about to go ask the Corps for another permit to bring in a hundred or so to use with my museum. It will take a lot of work, but I intend to use nothing but Bull Shoals Ozark cedar for the museum. Too read more about this, order a copy of our spring magazine The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal. 

Fred and I will schedule another meeting in Houston sometime in April or early May, and I will put that time and place in this column.

I will be asking for help getting those logs, so if you are interested in being involved in making this museum a reality I would like to hear from you. You can call me at 417-777-5227 or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com My mailing address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. The museum is to be free admission, completely non-profit. It will house two billiard tables brought to Houston in the 1920’s and two antique riverboats, plus a 500-gallon aquarium filled with Big Piney native inhabitants found there 150 years ago. When finished, rocking chairs will set before one of the most beautiful rock fireplaces ever built, and old timers can come there to drink coffee and play dominoes like they did decades ago. And it will give the story and photos of a great Ozark era and great Ozark river where I spent my boyhood. That river and an old johnboat likely made my career as a writer possible. Be a part of it; come to our meeting when we have the next one.


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