Monday, January 30, 2012

80 proof


I've never managed to get a good picture of the old Bourbon, Missouri water tower.  So, for this post, I'm using Daniel Woodrum's photo from takemytrip.com.

When I was a kid and we would drive past on I-44 (still fairly new at the time!), I fancied that the tower was actually full of bourbon whiskey. Later, I outsmarted myself. This being the middle of Missouri wine country, it was obvious to me that the reference went back to French settler times and alluded to the Bourbon dynasty.

The French presence extended west and south from St. Louis at least as far as the Springfield, Missouri area, where there's still a small town called Bois d'Arc ("Bo-Dark" in the Missouri dialect; there's also a Versailles, Missouri, pronounced "Vur-Sayles").

Anyhoo, I was wrong both ways. The tower wasn't full of bourbon whiskey, but that's what the reference was, in fact, to. The town of Bourbon sprang up around Irish work camps building a railroad through the area. The railroad workers liked their whiskey, and local storekeeper Richard Turner was eager to please, buying the newly popular Kentucky variant in quantity. His store became known as "the bourbon store," and the town that sprang up nearby just rolled with that name.

On this last weekend's trip down to Marshfield/Springfield, we took a little time to get off the freeway and drive a few portions of old Route 66. I do that as often as possible, just to show the kids that  there's always some cool history and beautiful country to see if you're willing to spare the time.

The Bourbon tower is visible from I-44, of course. So why am I writing about it? Well, I'm having an Old Crow and RC to celebrate my 80th KN@PPSTER post this month -- one more than I managed in all of 2005 2007. So it just seemed apropos (see how I worked some French lingo in there?).
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