Ozarks | St. Louis Public Radio


The dining room at Bulrush, which opened last month in St. Louis' Grand Center neighborhood.
Meera Nagarajan | Sauce Magazine

Chef Rob Connoley’s acclaimed St. Louis restaurant Bulrush isn’t just a delicious night out. It’s also a deep dive into the culinary history of the region. The Grand Center eatery takes its inspiration from cuisine in the Ozarks region prior to 1870, before railroads allowed for easy transport of foodstuffs. He attempts to hew rigorously to ingredients that were in play.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Connoley joined us to discuss the often arduous task of researching what everyday people ate more than 150 years ago. He credited Gabriel Shoemaker, a St. Louis University senior who has been combing archives for recipes and even just mentions of food. 

The Alley Mill was built in 1894 next to Alley Spring in the Ozarks region. 
Kaitlyn McConnell

The Ozark region has modernized slowly over time, and that’s allowed for the preservation of its traditional culture. To help shed light on what the region has to offer, seventh-generation Ozarker Kaitlyn McConnell started the Ozarks Alive website, fueling her “night-and-weekend obsession” with learning about the places and people that make up the region she calls home. 

“It is true that most 20-somethings don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the historical significance of these hills,” she writes on her website. “Some might blame my love (or obsession, according to others) with this region on my blood. Seven generations of my ancestors have called the Ozarks home, and I’m proud of that connection.” Her posts showcase its history, its unique businesses and different profiles of people. 

After frequently being asked for suggestions of places to explore in the region, McConnell knew she had to use the wisdom she’s accumulated over the years to curate a book. She titled it “Passport to the Ozarks.” 

The Southeast Missouri Behavioral Health office in Cuba is an example of a mental health care office that serves a large, rural county.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — A new study shows suicide rates are on the rise, especially in rural counties, and the Missouri Ozarks and the Bootheel have some of the highest in the Midwest.

The report from Ohio State University shows counties with higher suicide rates tend to have more gun shops, more veterans and fewer people with health insurance. Their populations also tend to be poorer, more socially isolated and have less access to health care.

From left, Kathie Brennan and Don Massey joined Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Meandering over more than 400 miles of southeast Missouri is a network of hiking trails that’s been in existence since the 1970s: the Ozark Trail. Its history, along with its natural beauty, fill the pages of Don Massey’s photographic book titled “The Ozark Trail: Images of Missouri’s Longest Hiking Trail.”

Massey is a member of the Ozark Trail Association, and he joined Friday’s St. Louis on the Air alongside the association’s president, Kathie Brennan, for a conversation with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum.

The HillBenders will open for The Who at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Thursday night.
The HillBenders

English rock band The Who first released “Tommy,” the wildly successful rock opera, on May 23, 1969 – exactly 50 years ago this Thursday, when Springfield, Missouri-based bluegrass band The HillBenders will open for The Who at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.

It might seem an unlikely concert pairing, except that The HillBenders’ 2015 album is a full-length Tommy tribute, bluegrass-opry style.

St. Louis on the Air producer Evie Hemphill caught up with Jim Rea, the group’s guitarist and musical director, as he and the rest of the HillBenders anticipated sharing a stage with The Who.

Salad with local wild greens, wild pickled mushrooms, huckleberry powder coated goat cheese and elk tenderloin.
Courtesy of Rob Connoley

Including Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the Ozarks is a geographic region known for its mountainous topography, forests and tourism. The region also has a unique culinary history.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by St. Louis native and chef Rob Connoley. The James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest is planning to open Bulrush, a restaurant rooted in Ozark cuisine, this April in Grand Center.

This photo of Ozark Air Lines DC-3 plane by the Arch was taken in the 1960s after the Arch was completed.
Courtesy: Ozark Silver Swallows

Ozark Air Lines began operating in 1950, with commercial flights between St. Louis and Chicago and enroute stops at Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign Illinois. But in 1986, Trans World Airlines (TWA) took over the airline, its routes and aircraft, leaving behind memories of the regional airline.

At 5p.m. on July 21, the Tivoli Theatre will screen “The Swallows’ Tale: The Story of Ozark Air Lines,” a short documentary about the St. Louis-based airline. The film will air as part of Cinema St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase.

Paddlefish can live 100 years.
Dennis Chamberlin | medium.com

Caviar poaching has arrived in in the Ozarks.

Like sturgeon, female paddlefish bloat with tiny eggs, and a single paddlefish can contain 10 pounds of roe, worth as much as $40,000 when labeled and sold as high-grade Russian caviar. Game warden Rob Farr, who patrols rivers and reservoirs in central Missouri, now finds himself battling intrigue that extends to Russia, Kazhakstan and Iran.

Medium.com has the story from the Food and Environment Reporting Network.

Political Battle Over Ozark National Park Heats Up

Feb 12, 2014
National Park Service

(Updated at 3:39 p.m., February 20)

Missouri senators passed a resolution to block the federal government's proposed changes in tourist restrictions at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The resolution passed on a 23-8 vote on Thursday and now heads to the House.

Draft Management Plan Released For Ozark National Park

Jan 22, 2014
via National Park Service

 Updated 2:40 p.m. Jan. 22:

The National Park Service is holding the last public meeting on its proposed management plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways tonight in Kirkwood. See below for more details.

Updated 3:10 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. Jan. 7:

(via Flickr/solviturambulando)

Black bears can now be found in southern Missouri, thanks to a reintroduction program more than fifty years ago.

The University of Missouri has worked in conjunction with other researchers to trace the origins of the bears.

Researchers used genetic footprints and hair samples to identify which bears came from reintroduced groups in Arkansas, and which were indigenous. 

Washington University researcher Kaitlyn Faries did research on the bears at MU during initial studies in 2007.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Caviar was the food of czars.

Caviar, and the money to be made from selling it, were behind a two-year undercover investigation and sting by conservation agencies. The operation ended on March 14 with more than 100 citations and arrests of suspects from Missouri. Eight men of eastern European descent, seven from out-of-state, were named in federal indictments for interstate trafficking of poached wildlife products. The wildlife in question is the paddlefish, native to Missouri and surrounding states.

(Mark Morgan/University of Missouri)

A statewide coalition of environmental organizations is urging the National Park Service to protect Ozark rivers.

Representatives of the groups were in Washington, D.C., today meeting with the Park Service.

They submitted more than 4,400 signed petitions asking the federal agency to adopt a strong management plan for the Current River and its major tributary, the Jacks Fork.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 6, 2012 - Tiger is visiting my wife and me for a few days near the Jacks Fork River in southern Missouri. Our foster grandson matches his mom’s hillbilly free spirit.

Tiger has survived his decade in the Ozarks following birth shortly after 9-11-01. His mom lived with us for a couple of years well before Tiger was on the scene. We’ve kept in touch with her, inspired by this evolving family of independent souls.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a final environmental impact statement for its new management plan for the nation's public forests.

The new Forest Planning Rule will guide the management of America's 193-million acres of national forest lands, and provide the framework for local forest managers to develop their own forest-specific management plans.

Tinnitus rings the world

Jun 19, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 19, 2011 - At 6 a.m., this June morning already feels like 80 or more. Of course it will climb much higher in a month or two. Is it possible to be even more humid? Luckily some old friends are stopping by so we have an excuse if not a necessity to spend the afternoon at the river.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 20, 2009 - During St. Louis summers, people usually have no trouble answering "Yes" to the question, "Is it hot enough for you." Even though we've recently had weather that reminds many of Michigan in July, our summers and especially our winters have been getting warmer, and at an accelerated pace since the 1970s. Our area has become about 0.8 degrees centigrade (about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer in the past 100 years, as has the average temperature of the globe.

canoe on Ozark stream. 2008. 300 pixels.
Eminence, Mo.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 17, 2008 -  A recent weekend at a vacation house on the Current River with spouse and friends was a singular treat. The weekend was enlivened by a kayak float along the Jacks Fork, an iconic Ozark float stream complete with limestone bluffs hundreds of feet high, numerous caves and springs.