Chamber touts 56-mile spring driving tour

Monday, April 22, 2013

By DAVID SILVERBERG

Associate Editor

A 56-mile Spring Dogwood/Redbud Driving Tour is being promoted by the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee.

"Dogwoods and redbud trees bloom in a profusion of purple, pink and white. Add the spring color of fruit trees and you have the makings of a gorgeous spring driving tour," said Rose Anne Huck, tourism committee chairman. "The tour takes 1.5 hours without stops and follows the fall colors tour which started last year."

Starting on Highway PP at Bypass 67 in Poplar Bluff, Mo., drivers are urged to travel northwest on Highway PP for 13.5 miles to U.S. 60 and turn right(east) to return to the first signal light at the intersection of Highway 67, Shelby Road and Highway W in Poplar Bluff. Then turn left (north) on Highway W and go 9.3 miles to Highway KK. Turn right (east) onto KK and go 5.4 miles and then turn right (south) on Highway T to U.S. 60 to return to Poplar Bluff.

An option is to turn right on County Road 534 after traveling about eight miles on Highway W. The Eagle Pass Winery and Cafe is located two miles east on County Road 534 which continues east to Highway T.

Visitors will drive through Mark Twain National Forest after leaving Poplar Bluff. Missouri's only national forest, the Mark Twain encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands, an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, more than 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Deer are sometimes seen in the early morning hours or near dusk.

About a mile past Township Line Road is a marker for an area where the forest trees were planted by the Daughters of the American Revolution in a reforestation project after the heyday of logging in the area cleared much of the old growth forests in the early 1900s.

Wolf Creek Road (County Road 429) is on the right nearly three miles from Township Line Road. Wolf Creek Road features a new trailhead for a mountain bike trail which covers several miles of hilltop trails. Wolf Creek Road joins PP Highway with U.S. 67. A link and more information about the trail and maps can be found on the USDA Forest Service website. Search "Wolf Creek Bike Trail."

Drivers will cross the new Cane Creek bridge. The creek was named for the cane plants that grow along its banks often used to make cane fishing poles. It is a native variety of bamboo.

After turning onto U.S. 60, visitors will cross Cane Creek again. The area east of Cane Creek bridge at County Road 410 is where the first settlers in Butler County lived beginning in 1819 and where the first official court proceedings were held in Butler County on June 16, 1849.

Also in this area is the Kittrell Cemetery where Samuel Kittrell, head of the first settler family in Butler County, is buried. Kittrell had a general store/trading post, a tannery, and a blacksmith shop. He was born in 1777 and died in 1838. A chiseled stone gravestone marks his grave.

While traveling north on Highway W, drivers will pass Jerry McLane Park north of U.S. 60 and then will arrive at sculptor Ralph Wayne Freer's Flying "F" Gallery in the historic Collins Store 8.9 miles north of Poplar Bluff. It was built in 1894 as a farmhouse is on a registered Century Farm.

There are restaurants, hotels, gas stations, flea markets and many other businesses in Poplar Bluff. Businesses also are located at Wappapello, Mo., east of the intersection of Highways T and KK.

For more information on Butler County tourism, go to www.visitbutlercountymo.com.

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