When people picture the Ozark Mountain Range, many think of a tight group of mountains where everyone knows each other. In truth, the Ozark Mountains cover 50,000 square miles. The mountain range runs through Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I live in Missouri where we enjoy 33,000 square miles of Ozark Mountains.
The Ozark Mountains gained fame with the publication of the book, The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright, which was published in 1907. The book was such a success that people flocked to the Branson, Missouri area to see for themselves where all the action took place. Branson kept growing from this first wave of folks fascinated with a story to the huge tourist city that it is today.
I can’t tell you how many times my mom took me to see the Shepherd of the Hills play at the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater and Homestead when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure we went every summer of my early childhood. It was one of her favorite books and consequently her favorite play. You can learn more about the theater here: The Shepherd of the Hills.
Another misconception about the Ozarks is that we are all simple country folk. While there are country folks living here, there are also many city people, small town people, and those in between. Some regions across the country you might visit have oceans and tropical plants. Some have deserts and giant cacti. Here in the Ozarks, we have mountains, lakes, rivers, sprawling forests, small towns, quaint villages, and bustling cities.
Our people are diverse. We have most races, creeds, and religions here. The Ozarks is home to all sorts of people. We have Europeans, Africans, Asians, Native Americans, South Americans, and Middle Easterners all right here along with their descendants. I’m afraid there’s only one me, though. The world couldn’t handle more than one of me.
I’ve considered moving to other areas of the country. Colorado and Wyoming have always fascinated me. I moved around quite a bit when I was younger. I had more addresses in a five year period than my parents had in their entire lives. You could say I was restless. While I’ve lived in different cities and rural locations throughout the region, I’ve never lived outside the Ozarks. I just don’t think I would be happy anywhere else. This is home.
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