Tuesday, July 10, 2012

From the Attic of the Ranger Station

 In this post, I would like to elaborate a bit on my archival adventure. The pictures above are the fruit of my work - two flimsy boxes and three very interesting photographs. Ok - I began working in the Castlewood ranger station attic in early May. As you can imagine, the room was dark, dingy, full of spiders and long forgotten recreation equipment. First, I emptied every box of paper and then organized the findings into archival categories. The majority of my findings consisted of two things: documents from a man by the name of Al Foster (who I now know to be a publicist, photographer, writer, and founding member of the Open Air Council), and old DNR publications. In June, after a month of nothing but strongly worded letters to and from Mr. Foster, I became discouraged and convinced there was nothing of value to my project.  However, as I neared the finish line, I came across three photographs. The first was actually a water color painting of something called, "Castlewood Village" and although it was not dated, it boldly stated that Mr. Raymond W. Smith was the President of this presumed company. This tid bit of information became more interesting when I found the second photo. The second photo, really a newspaper collage from an unknown news source, exemplified that "Castlewood experience" I hear so much about. The main photo displays scores of people crowded on Lincoln Beach ready to canoe down the Meramec River. In the corners of the photo are little side notes.

The picture directly to the right is one of those side notes. As I hope you can see, there is a young girl playing a ukulele while four men look up at her adoringly. A quote (also pasted on) reads,  "Leading her (something) Chorus." The greatest part of this collage is the bottom right hand corner, where a tag reads, "The Lincoln Beach amusement and Realty Co." Now, I found this interesting for two reasons: 1. Raymond W. Smith was the Vice-President, and 2. it is the third company I have found owning land within the Castlewood region (others being the Meramec Realty Co., Castlewood Village Co., and this one, The Lincoln Beach Amusement and Realty Co.). This tells me that there were several companies who owned and operated parts of the Castlewood Resort area, and that there were a few key players despite diversity. Through other sources, I have found that there were actually two separate resorts on either side of the river. The north side contained the Lincoln Hotel, the Lincoln Beach and the Missouri Pacific Railroad station. On the south side there was the Washington Hotel and the Frisco-Wabash Railroad station. Which companies owned land to the north? Which to the south? How did the two resorts compare? Were they for different clientele? So many questions left unanswered, but a good start!

1 comment:

  1. Lara this is an awesome story. It deserves to be told, so keep up the good work.