In late 1890, the federal government declared the frontier closed. More men started drifting into Southeast Missouri. Workers entering the swamps had to be hardy people to survive. Working condition were the worst. The weather was blistering hot in the summer and miserably cold during the winters while finding it difficult to stay dry any time of the year. Isolation and loneliness along with sickness was a constant problem. With water all around, none of it was fit to drank, therefore, moonshine became the drink of choose.

The work was backbreaking. To stay out of the water, Titer boards were used; which meant a notch was cut in a tree above the water and a board was inserted. Then you balanced yourself while cutting a tree that may have a diameter of twenty feet. Hard men were necessary to cut the timber to feed logs to mills.

Axes and one- and two-man felling saws were the common tools. Falling trees went were they were inclined to in spite of the sawing angle and driven wedges.  Falling tree trunks became projectiles of huge weight and momentum when they fell. Sawn trees hung up on standing tree making weapons of the sawed tree trunk, making them “widow-makers.”

Logging was a dangerous job that required hard physical labor and brute strength. Stihl’s gas-powered chain saws were not mass-produced until the 1930’s and not widely used until after World War II.

No wonder Morehouse and the other mill towns in the area had an undesirable reputation among citizens of more settle regions. Many frontier towns had less than savory reputations. This was especially true of lumber camps, and mining towns. Upstanding, highly moral and upright men were not attracted to the life required to work in these areas.  Morehouse was considered one of the roughest placed in the state



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Thank you for posting a brief history of Morehouse. This could be the reason why its image is not as good as it was before. Many illegal activities had been done here, and the officials did not do anything with that. That's really frustrating. On the the side, there's always a chance for Morehouse to redeem itself.


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    Having grown up on Little River, I have been fascinated with it. Over the past several years, as a local historian, this area has been a special interest. 

     These areas have been treated much like step-children by Jefferson City and Little Rock. They seem to believe nothing has ever happened here.  Our history has been long and varied. Hope you enjoy my trip.  

    Near Puxico is the swampy Mingo Wildlife Refuge. One hundred and fifty year ago, most of the Little River Valley appeared that way. This valley covering two million acres was part of the largest wetland in America.

    Floods frequently intimated the Valley. Between 1815 and 2011, 15 major floods covered or threatened the area.

    Timber companies came in at the end of the 19th Century to clean cut the forest. Louis Houck, a Cape Girardeau lawyer and railroad builder, envisioned a rail network that covered the wetlands.

    Little River Drainage District (LRDD) Corporation was established in 1907 by an act of the Butler County (MO) Circuit Court. 

    Between 1909 and 1928 the LRDD dug nearly 1000 miles of ditches and constructed 30 miles of levees to drain 1.2 million acres of swamp and overflow land in Southeast Missouri. More dirt was moved than in building the Panama Canal.

    One surprise I had was the number of settlements in the area before 1811-1812. Another was the water connection between the Mississippi River and the St. Francis and I had no idea that Little River had enough current to run a grist mill.

    Norman Vickers


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    Little River's Geographic Past