Old Wire Road Day Trip

For the most part, evidence of the Old Wire Road in northeast Webster County, Missouri has been lost to the ages. But in one long stretch, the old worn path is still visible from the sky. These shots, courtesy of Terraserver, along with maps, courtesy of Mapquest, follow this path thru Caddo north.

From Strafford to Caddo - Leaving Strafford north on Highway 125, the first road to the right after the stop light is Highway DD. Highway DD will follow and criss cross the old trail, as it navigates out of Greene County and into Webster County. At the Webster County line, State Highway DD ends and Webster County J Road begins. One area where the old trail is visible in this area is directly after J road declines a long hill and then takes a sharp 45 degree curve to the left on an incline. At this point J Road is running alongside a hill, and just below this section of road, the old trail is still visible in the woods today.

Immediately after this short straight section, the road winds to the right, crosses another creek and then begins to climb a long hill. Halfway up the hill the southern section of Beacon Hill Loop meets J Road on the left. This road will wind out into the countryside and meet back up with J Road a few miles ahead. Just west of where J Road and Beacon Hill Loop meet here, and up on the rise that is visible, is where the town of St Mark is believed to have been.

At the top of the hill the road will dip into a low area to the right, and then turn sharply to the left at the Mt Pisgah Baptist Church. In the cemetery directly to the north of this church rest some of Webster County's oldest graves.

Down the hill and crossing the Pomme de Terre River, the road will climb a hill at the top of which, the Beacon Hill Loop intersects J Road once again. I have been told by residents who grew up in Caddo in the early 90's, that at one time and in the area of this intersection there was a beacon tower. This undoubtedly would explain the name of the side road. As the top of this hill is crossed the map below picks up our trail. 

In the photo and matching map above, J Road declines a hill and then will take a 45 degree angle to the right turning into State Highway J (the Mapquest map showing DD is incorrect). At this curve, you are in downtown Caddo, or we should say it once was. Directly to the west of this intersection and in an empty field, stood the Bodenhamer School. Immediately after the curve, the first small house on the right still has a large barn and "stable" that existed in the early 1900's. Across the road from this barn, sits a home and a business named Balemaster Mfg. Where this house now sits, the Caddo store once resided. To the right of this business, Daisy Road, a small dead end dirt road, runs north. At this intersection, the wire road crossed J and ran where Daisy Road now is, then shot off to the northeast. In the aerial photo above, the red arrow's mark where the old trail is still evident.

In the next series we see the trail continuing, with very little of the next few miles following current roads. After driving past Daisy Road, the next dirt road you will come to is named, fittingly enough, Old Wire Road. Turning left and heading north on this road, you will go down a hill, cross a creek, then start climbing again. Near the top of this road is where the old wire road actually crosses todays present Old Wire Road. It will follow the trail past the Walnut Springs Farm, which has the oldest farm silo in Webster County, to State Highway E. Here it becomes difficult to follow the trail in an automobile. For the most part, runs will run north/south or east/west, while the wire road will head northeast for the remainder of the county.

The trail continues northeast, and just north of this area, the aerial evidence of the trail is lost to vegetation and modern roads. At Old Wire Road and Highway E, make a right and then turn left onto State Highway 38. Follow 38 north to the once town of Conklin and turn right on Timber Ridge Road. Continuing on you will come to the Timber Ridge Baptist Church  (est 1842) and cemetery.

(Somewhere just south of here is where I believe the old Civil War Sand Springs Fort was - when I have found it I will update this section)

If you backtrack a few hundred feet, Pleasant Church Road heads to the north. Take this north, the wire road running to your right. At Theatre Road turn right, where you will pass the Frontier Theatre

It will be difficult to follow the Wire Road for while. Continue on Theatre Road until it ends at County Road 637. Turn left, then right on County Road 630. Take this east until it comes to 635 and turn left. Follow 635 until it T's. Take a right on 645B which after crossing a creek and climbing a small hill, will turn into paved County Highway Y. Y will start coming close to the Wire road again as it passes Greer Creek Road and will cross it as you near State Highway W. Turn left on W and then right on Highway Y again. Here, until you leave Webster County, Highway Y will criss cross and follow the old wire road.

After crossing thru a few miles of Dallas County, Y ends at M Highway in Laclede County. Take a right and within a few miles you will be at Interstate 44.

More as it becomes available

Caddo Home

Webster County history before the formation of the county

In 1800, Spain turned over the land known as Louisiana (much of the south central US west of the Mississippi River) to France. In 1803, France sold this land to the United States for $15 million dollars in what would be known as the Louisiana Purchase. The US then discovered that, thanks to a 1541 Desoto treaty with the 6 Bulls Indian Confederation, much of this land could not be homesteaded. So in 1808, the US made an agreement with the 6 Bulls to purchase the land. In 1809, the 6 Bulls rebelled, claiming the agreement was a lease only. The courts denied the Indian claim and the Indians declared war. This war would continue until 1828.

During this period, the 6 Bulls, primarily the Osage tribe, attempted to govern the area, but the US continued to divide it, first into upper and lower Louisiana. In 1812, lower Louisiana became a state and upper Louisiana became the Missouri Territory, which included the 6 Bulls Confederation to the north, and the Arkawas Indian Confederation to the south. Then in 1819, the Missouri Territory was divided into the Missouri and Arkansas Territory. In 1821, part of Missouri Territory, home to Colonel Daniel Boone's Northern Outpost (located in present day Christian County, Missouri) became the state of Missouri. In 1836, part of Arkansas Territory, home to Boone's central outpost, became the state of Arkansas.

Boone's outposts predated the 1808 US agreement with the 6 Bulls, and were operating under their own lease with the Indian's. With the 1808 treaty between the Osage and the US government, these agreements were forfeit and Boone would abandon the area, returning to Kentucky. While they operated, the Boone's outposts were central to camps (similar to today's counties), and in each camp, there were springs (small settlements). Union Camp was the entire Niangua River Basin, and the "springs" were primarily located near water and around deposits of minerals (salt petre used in processing gunpowder, lead for gunshot, and iron for cannon ball).

While I can not confirm at this point, I suspect the original Wire road was Spanish in origin, and this would explain the names of early county towns on this trail such as St Luke and St Mark.