This week I decided to go on the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead Tour. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and I’m glad I finally did it! Even if you’ve been to Branson hundreds of times already, the homestead tour is one of those things you just need to experience in order to get a well-rounded experience of Branson and all that it encompasses.
The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead Tour takes you back to the late 1800’s when Branson was just hill after hill of natural wildlife, breathtaking views and a few settlers who had decided to call the Ozarks home.
Two such settlers, John and Anna Ross were considered wealthy in their time, as they made $365 a year (or $1 a day) and were the owners of a “large” log cabin and piece of land in the backwoods of Mutton Hollow. The first stop of the hour-long tram tour was the Ross’s cabin, also known as “Old Matt’s Cabin” which stands in its original location on the homestead. My tour guide, Jacob lead the way through each room of the home while detailing the significance of each historical artifact contained within those walls. It was really interesting to see that the kitchen was built entirely with Anna’s 4’11” frame in mind, featuring a low-standing stove and a short door frame that would result in headaches for anyone over five feet tall. Even cooler, was the kitchen’s original decorative flooring which had been worn away by the shuffling of shoes in certain areas.
Next Jacob took us to the Morgan Community Church, which had been saved from demolition and relocated to the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead in 1991. It was built in 1901 and was very much like many of the other churches in the area where Harold Bell Wright traveled around preaching. Today, the beautiful and historical church can be rented out for various events and weddings.
Inspiration Tower is another highlight of the tour. Jacob stopped the tram so I could strain my neck to see to the top of the gigantic tower that stands 230 feet above the ground. I also got to snap some photos of an amazing view that stretches 65 miles across the limestone, tree-covered hills of Mutton Hollow on a clear day. I really enjoyed hearing about about the rumors of a “haint” (or ghost) that roamed that stretch of land and was mentioned in Wright’s novel Shepherd of the Hills.
The homestead tour also included stops at the pavilion where Wright pitched his tent to write the infamous Shepherd of the Hills novel, the outdoor theater that has been hosting the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama for 55 years now, an old moonshine still and Little Pete’s Cave.
In my opinion, the tour was over too soon and I could have sat there all day listening to the stories about the Baldknobbers, Harold Bell Wright and what the homestead was like more than 100 years ago.
If you haven’t had the chance to go on the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead tour, I would highly suggest you try it out. It’s enjoyable for all members of the family, especially those history buffs and it will give you a renewed appreciation for the entire Branson area.
For tickets or more information, visit http://www.bransonshows.com/activity/HistoricHomesteadTour.cfm.
The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead is located at 5586 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, MO 65616, just a half mile north of White Water.