Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

At a Chicago meeting in 1963, I was talkin...

At a Chicago meeting in 1963, I was talking with a 4-H leader from Georgia who worked with a large outdoor youth center. “Tell me all about it because Boone County has a chance to receive the gift of 77 beautiful acres for such a park.” We talked for almost an hour.

Returning to Columbia, I visited with Frank Graham who said that the Pinnacles had been offered to the state park system and to the Missouri 4-H Foundation. It was too small for a state park and too far from 4-H members living in Missouri’s corners. Graham suggested, “You people right here in Boone County could form an organization to accept this gift.” He detailed the owners’ two restrictions: the land could not be sold or mortgaged for at least 50 years and no one would be charged for using the area. They could be charged for food or for damage to the property but not for the privilege of enjoying God’s handiwork. That was acceptable.

I took Nancy and Walt and a few others from the Harg Hustlers 4-H Club to see the Pinnacles. A light snow on the ground highlighted the trickling water of Kelly Creek and Silver Fork, which had helped to erode the Burlington limestone rocks into a narrow, free-standing wall. Tall spires that gave the area its name had tumbled, years ago. Spectacular vertical rock bluffs and “shelving rock” -- which we mistakenly thought was a cave -- were surrounded by huge old trees and pastureland. Narrow trails wound through tall weeds and poison ivy. Unwelcome visitors had left trash. The lovely place needed love and care. It is now free and open to the public; donations are its only source of income.

On that first trip we didn’t discover the path to the top of the tallest bluff or the remnants of the handmade stone dam, which formerly impounded enough water for canoeing.

The owner families -- the Hulens, Jennings, Neals, Golds, Carters, et al. -- and their guests had rebuilt the dam several times after heavy rains and had erected at least seven cabins. Most of their children were grown and away, and it was natural that they wanted to give their beloved land to a responsible group who would promote wholesome outdoor recreation.

Following Graham’s suggestion, we asked the Boone County Senior 4-H council to take the lead. It appointed a committee to work with the late Don Burk, Boone County Extension youth agent, and consequently, the Boone County Pinnacles Youth Foundation came into being. Early members of this group included Barthena Barnes, Harold Hinshaw and myself. Later names included Quanna Williamson, William Kasman and others. It was Burk, working with owner Don Carter, who finalized the gift 30 years ago. In September 1965, the deed was transferred and the property dedicated to “people of all ages who seek knowledge, love and care for the countryside.” That ceremony will be commemorated this week.

The Pinnacles board, under the capable leadership of Steve Willsie, has set this coming Sunday as a time for celebration and rededication. From noon till 4 p.m., knowledgeable people will be on hand to explain the geology that created the unusual rock formations and answer other questions about the area.

Families are urged to bring cameras and be dressed to hike, climb, explore and otherwise enjoy this park. Drive 10 miles north on Highway 63, pass the exits to Hallsville and Harrisburg and watch for “Pinnacles Road” on the right. The parking lot and Don Burk Memorial Shelter are within a city block of the highway. See you there?

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