Steamboats were the special exhibit the backbone of prosperity and the development of Benton County. After a quick survey of the three volumes of the Benton County History, Connie Zuber knew the only artifact the museum had for sure was an 1875 grand piano that came up to Warsaw on a steamboat in 1881. Connie Zuber and her husband, John, did many hours of research on the internet as well as Jefferson City Archives, the Miller County Historical Society museum in Tuscumbia, MO, and the National Archives Museum in Kansas City. They also met with Dee Harris, Special Exhibits Specialist.
It was decided that a special exhibit could be created for the grand opening of the museum in April 2013. John volunteered to make a paddle wheel, as a model for the display, in place of the actual artifacts.
Warsaw was a major port for steamboats heading down the Osage River. One of the busiest days at port had 13 steamboats moored at the harbor.
Railroads took over as a major mode of transportation in place of the stagecoaches. The railroad tracks could not have been built without the work of thousands of men across the country. In the Ozarks, felling trees and tie hacking required special tools and strong men to carry out the hard labor. With jobs in short supply many of the people in Benton County and surrounding areas were employed to fell trees and hack them down to the proper size to use for railroad ties.
Tie-hacking refers to chopping off the bark and splitting the logs down to the proper size by manual labor. Tie rafting referred to one of the ways the cut logs were sent down river. The other way was to free float them down the river. This often created log jams. Tie hackers worked 10-12 hours a day for 10 cents per tie. It took about an hour to hew one tie. Some logs were sent to the saw mill. They would cut lumber for buildings and cross ties from the same tree in order to fill orders for wood planks.
There were several tie-yards in the Benton County area. In Cole Camp it was in the vicinity of the current VFW building. In Warsaw it was near the current Beth's Mini Mart. There were also tie yards in Hastain and Duroc.
The movie "Stamp of Character" is a video on YouTube from The Department of Conservation showing "start to finish" standing trees to railroad tracks.