Branson for History Buffs
The Ozarks has a colorful past with its “on the fence” civil war stance and “wild west” characters like the bushwhackers and “baldknobbers” who interpreted law as they saw fit. Many of the area’s shows and attractions pay tribute to the past and how Branson came to be America’s live music show capitol.
Branson’s beginning as a tourist destination goes back to 1903 when itinerant preacher, Harold Bell Wright, was stranded in the area by floods. John and Anna Ross took him into their cabin and, eventually, Wright wrote a book about the people he had grown to admire. The novel, Shepherd of the Hills, is said to be second only to the Bible in sales. Take a jeep-drawn guided tour of the original Ross homestead, see Branson from the top of Inspiration tower and even see a live drama based on the novel that drew so many to the Ozarks. You can even enjoy a horseback trail ride on this historic site.
The Baldknobbers Jamboree show first played to a handful of people on the lakefront in 1959. Today the family plays in a 1,500-seat auditorium in center of Branson’s entertainment district. This is a high-energy variety show with singing, dancing and plenty of hillbilly humor. The show is completely new every year but it always delivers the same historical comedy for which it’s famous.
Originally named the “Museum of the Ozarks,” this three-story building contains fascinating memorabilia and stories from the area’s past. A favorite item on display is the 1921 Oldsmobile featured in the television series, The Beverly Hillbillies. (Several episodes of the show were actually shot at Branson’s Silver Dollar City.) See an impressive collection of antique kewpie dolls, created by local artist, Rose O. Neill, a large gun collection, including a rifle owned by Pancho Villa, and many artifacts detailing Branson’s musical legacies. Located on the campus of College of the Ozarks, this is a must-see location for history lovers.
The tragedy of the titanic is well-known history. This interactive museum gives visitors the chance to experience the event from a passenger’s perspective. Museum-goers are assigned the name of an actual passenger. During the self-guided tour, guests learn about that individual’s story from costumed staff members. Sit in a Titanic lifeboat and hear the voices of survivors, put your hand in the ice-cold water, feel the frigid air, see the grand staircase and listen to the voice of Titanic’s captain. At the end of your tour, find your fate on a wall listing the names of those who survived… and those who perished.
Branson is well-known for its tributes to America’s finest. This one-of-a-kind museum honors them with personal stories and meaningful memorabilia. World-renowned sculptor, Fred Hoppe, created the world’s largest war memorial bronze sculpture and placed it here. Life-sized figures represent men from each state storming a beachfront. Here is the only place in the world where those killed in every conflict since World War II are displayed together… written on the building’s walls. Each room is dedicated to various eras, including displays of Nazi artifacts and other sobering reminders of the past.