Learn Your Branson History at the Branson Centennial Museum

The Branson Centennial Museum is a celebration of Branson’s past, present and future, featuring several exhibits honoring area traditions, performers and history.

I stopped in the museum last week and spent some time reading up on the fascinating history of the area and how this well-known town became all that it is today.

The museum opened its doors in 2012, exactly 100 years after the city of Branson was incorporated. The White River Valley Historical Society and the Chamber of Commerce put forth a team effort to consistently educate the visitors and residents with educational exhibits encompassing the history of the Branson area.

The exhibits regularly rotate throughout the year so you’re bound to see something new each and every time you stop in. Currently there are several different exhibits to explore as well as a short video about the importance of Table Rock Dam to watch.

Each display features interesting historic items and photographs like the original cash register of the Owen family’s drugstore on the corner of Main and Commercial in historic downtown Branson. (For those who don’t know, the Owen family played a large part in the development of the city of Branson.) The antique cash register was discovered in the basement of the “If The Shoe Fits” shop on Commercial Street in downtown Branson.

One of my favorite exhibits was a timeline that highlighted some of the important historical dates in the city’s history. I learned a lot reading through it and loved looking at all the old photos. It was fun to compare pictures of Branson 150 years ago to the way it looks today. The timeline also told the story of the very first permanent residents of the land that is now downtown Branson. The land was owned by 15-year-old teenage Calvin Smith Gayler and his 14-year-old wife. They moved to their White River property back in 1839 and began farming the land and harvesting fruit from their large garden. And today it’s a popular location for shopping and dining in Branson.

History buffs will love the Branson Centennial Museum as well as those who are just curious about the tri-lakes area and its humble beginnings. Visitors will also enjoy the small gift shop and large collection of books about Branson for sale.

The museum is at 101 Veterans Blvd. in historic downtown Branson, just up the road from The Landing. Hours are 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and admission is free.

For more information, please visit www.wrvhs.org.

C of O Attraction Guidebook: Gaetz Tractor Museum

A little museum tucked away in the Branson area just happens to house some very fascinating historic machinery.

The Gaetz Tractor Museum is located on College of the Ozarks campus near the college dairy and is often overlooked. An interesting display of agricultural history, the museum is free to visitors and offers a nostalgic look into the evolution of farming equipment over the years.

The exhibit features a 1935 John Deere B, a Canadian 1919 Massey-Harris, an antique Marseilles-Adams cyclone feed power corn sheller and a 1930 Rumley 6A, among others.

Although small, the Gaetz Tractor Museum is a great stop in the Ozarks for anyone interested in history, antiques or agriculture. (Curiosity was my main reason for stopping by.)

The museum is free and open to the public during normal business hours, so stop by next time you’re in town and take some time to browse this impressive collection!

Check the Branson Shows Blog tomorrow at 3 p.m. for the next blog in the C of O Attraction Guide series on the W. Alton Jones Dairy.

C of O Attraction Guidebook: The Ralph Foster Museum

If you’re new to the Ozarks, The Ralph Foster Museum is definitely one of those museums you need to visit. Located on College of the Ozark’s campus, this museum is known as the “Smithsonian of he Ozarks” and is dedicated to the history of the Ozarks. It’s named after Ralph D. Foster, a radio pioneer and philanthropist.

Ralph Foster MuseumI could spend all day and then some in the Ralph Foster Museum because there’s simply too much to look at in just one day. With thousands of artifacts ranging from firearms, antique vehicles, art, antiques, musical instruments and so much more, you’ll be an expert on the Ozarks by the time you walk out of there.

The museum’s most well-known exhibit is the original Beverly Hillbillies truck, a 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster. Museum staff allow guests access into the beat-up vehicle’s front seat and it’s served as a great photo op for museum guests for generations. The famous vehicle is located right at the entrance to the museum’s first exhibit so you can’t miss it.

Ralph Foster MuseumOne of the great things about Ralph Foster Museum is that if you come in anytime after 3 p.m., your admission into the museum for the next day is free! So if you don’t have time to make it through all the exhibits, you don’t have to rush. Just come back the next day.

Admission is just $5 for seniors ages 62 and older and $6 for adults. Visitors high school age and under are free.

For more information, visit www.rfostermuseum.com.

Catch the next blog in the C of O Attraction Guidebook series to read about the campus Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen.

New Branson National BB Gun Museum Now Open

A few weeks ago I blogged about a BB Gun Museum that was set to open, so this week I went to check it out for myself.

The National BB Gun Museum is located right next to the World’s Largest Toy Museum and the Dinosaur Museum and is home to a large collection of vintage BB guns, nostalgic ads from manufacturers like Daisy, Winchester and more and various informative displays.

The nostalgia associated with owning a BB gun stretches back to the very early 1900’s when Daisy, one of the earliest makers of BB guns, marketed its products with ads that proclaimed things like “Daisy: The BB Gun that every boy dreams about.”

Many of the nostalgic ads and marketing materials were produced by Daisy and focused on the fact that giving clean cut, upstanding American boys a BB gun would serve as the proper training and character development they needed to learn how to handle a real gun when they came of age.

Daisy was and still continues to be one of the most widely known manufactures of BB guns and Branson’s BB Gun Museum is chocked full of different models throughout the 1900’s. I had no idea there were so many different makes and models and it was interesting being able to compare the differences between them.

The Branson BB Gun Museum is definitely for any BB gun enthusiasts out there, but if you owned a BB gun as a child or think you would enjoy looking at all the different kinds of models, you might be interesting in seeing what this museum has to offer.

Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think. The museum is inside the old Carolina Mills Building on Highway 76 next  to the World’s Largest Toy Museum.

Explore Robert Ripley’s Collection of Amazingly Weird Artifacts

Ripley's Believe It or Not! - Branson OdditoriumLast week I visited the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum in Branson and found one simple quote from Robert Ripley himself to best describe my experience:

“I have traveled in 201 countries and the strangest thing I saw was man.”

Ripley’s entire odditorium in Branson is filled with the amazing artifacts that tell the stories of people all over the world. Ripley lived an incredible life filled with adventure and had a passion for sharing his unbelievable discoveries from the ends of the earth with the rest of the world and he used comics published in newspapers and books to illustrate his findings. His comics eventually spanned all mediums to include radio, television and movies.

His cartoon series was estimated to have 80 million readers worldwide and he acquired hundreds of exotic artifacts in his search for unbelievable stories. He claimed that his facts were never false and received millions of pieces of mail every year from readers. When you enter the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Branson, you’ll understand what all the hype is really about.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! - Branson OdditoriumI could have easily spent a full two hours in the museum with so many strange and interesting things to look at and read about. The collection is such a rare group of relics that demonstrate the true variety of human culture. Seeing such a variety of things makes me feel like I’ve hardly scraped the surface of all the amazing things this world has to offer.

I browsed through the exhibits filled with ancient artifacts including a real shrunken head, a fur-covered trout originally caught in Lake Ontario, a bedpan guitar, a model of the world’s tallest man who broke records with a height of more than 8 feet tall, and of course, the 22-foot tall Optimus Prime at the front door.

What other museum boasts exhibits like that? One exhibit that I found to be especially weird was a promotional stunt by Charmin and the largest roll of toilet paper in the world. Standing 102-feet tall and containing more than one million square feet of tissue, that thing was gigantic. You’ll have to see it for yourself to understand.

A visit to Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience that, if anything, will arm you with a ridiculous amount of conversation starters.

So check it out for yourself and let us know what you think! Click here for tickets or more information.

Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum is at 3326 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, just down the street from the Clay Cooper Theatre.




Step Into the Shoes of a Titanic Passenger in Branson

TitanicThis week I spent a good two hours at the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction and I wish I could have stayed longer. The museum is absolutely packed with informative and interactive exhibits that take you on a journey through the construction of the British passenger liner, provide context within the time period and most importantly, tell the stories of the those lives that became intertwined with the legendary ship that was deemed “unsinkable.”

Immediately upon entering the museum, you’ll be immersed in the experience with the opportunity to touch a real iceberg. Staff will tell you to rub it three times for good luck and those three quick rubs will leave your hand feeling pretty numb.

titanicMy tour through the museum was self-guided but each guest is given a handheld device that is used like a phone. Many of the exhibits throughout the Titanic are marked with a number on a small, circular sign. Each time you see one, you simply punch in the number, hit the green button and hold the device to your ear for additional audio explanations of the current exhibit. It’s a neat way to take in even more information and it’s a good addition for those who’d rather listen to the information than read it.

The museum’s exhibits and authentic artifacts recovered from the ship’s wreckage really make it clear that the focus is on the people who were aboard the Titanic. You’ll see personal items like handbags, authentic boarding passes and dining schedules, jewelry, photographs and one of the nine lifejackets still in existence today. In fact, when you visit the Branson Titanic, you become one of those very people as you receive a boarding pass with the name and story of a real passenger that boarded the ship.

TitanicI became Charlotte Cardeza, a multi-millionaire 1st class passenger with more luggage than any other passenger on the ship. There was even a photo of me in one of the exhibits overseeing the loading of all my possessions onto the Titanic. One of the crew members told me that I occupied the largest suite on the ship, which was similar to the suite that Rose had in the 1997 James Cameron film Titanic. Throughout my whole tour I was anxious to find out if I survived the ordeal or not and according to the final exhibit in the Memorial Room, I did make it. But 1,500 others were not so lucky.

The entire museum makes for a humbling experience that will transport you back in time for a brief moment as you experience first hand what it was like to be a passenger of the Titanic. While I was there I was able to feel the frigid 28 degree water that swallowed the ship, play the baby grand piano in the exhibit dedicated to the musicians onboard, experience the sloping decks of the ship’s stern, shovel coal into the Titanic’s boiler room, walk through the third class corridor, steer the ship from the captain’s bridge and sit in a life size lifeboat while listening to the passengers tell their stories.

An experience at this museum is almost too great to describe with words — it’s one that you need to experience for yourself. And an afternoon aboard the RMS Titanic is sure to educate and entertain all those who take the time to walk through it all while honoring and celebrating the lives of passengers and crew from around the world.

For tickets and more information, visit http://www.bransonshows.com/activity/buyTitanicTickets.cfm.

The Branson Titanic Museum Attraction is located at 3235 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, nextdoor to Montana Mike’s Steakhouse and across the street from the Clay Cooper Theatre.


Inside the Branson Veterans Memorial Museum

Branson Veterans Memorial MuseumThe Veterans Memorial Museum has been a Branson landmark for 14 years now, providing visitors and residents with a tribute to the men and women who served our country during the 20th century.

The halls of this museum are filled with the incredible wartime experiences of our country’s brave veterans and is a humbling experience, even for those who have only seen those times played out through the lens of history. Guests will have the opportunity to view ten different walls featuring artifacts and information from conflicts including WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm and more.

Each exhibit was specially handcrafted and includes with the collections of bronze sculptor Fred Hoppe who traveled the world and collected more than 2,000 artifacts to fill the 18,000 square foot museum.

The Veterans Memorial Museum also features a striking war memorial bronze sculpture created by Fred Hoppe. The sculpture showcases 50 life-size statues storming a beach and is surrounded by the names of soldiers killed in action during WWII. More than 70 feet long and weighing in at 15 tons, this sculpture is the world’s largest war memorial and is considered the highlight of the museum.

Branson is a city that certainly takes the time to thank our veterans and the Veterans Memorial Museum honors those who have served with a special tribute to their lives, stories and service.

The Veterans Memorial Museum is a Branson must-see, so next time you’re in town stop by and see the patriotic display of history for yourself. Its located at 1250 W. 76 Blvd., Branson, just 1/3 of a mile before Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater on the strip.

For more information and admission prices, call 417-336-2300.

Museum hours are Sunday-Monday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or 9 a.m.-7 p.m. depending on the season. Click here for a schedule.