The Plank Road, Columbia-Providence - McBaine, MO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 38° 53.249 W 092° 26.777
15S E 548023 N 4304436
Quick Description: Marker located at the McBaine Trailhead, north of this road site.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 7/14/2022 5:52:21 AM
Waymark Code: WM16EFY
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Geo Ferret
Views: 0

Long Description:

County of marker: Boone County
Location of marker: State Hwy K, Katy Trail State Park, McBaine Trailhead
Marker Erected by: Missouri Department of Natural Resources & Katy Trail State Park

Marker Text:

The Plank Road, Columbia-Providence

The Plank Road
linking Columbia to a river port at Providence reach its peak of success when it opened in 1856. By the next year, the road was a disaster.

River towns like Glasgow, Boonville and Rocheport had boat landings, but fast-growing Columbia had no reliable river connection. With the Missouri River near, a good road to a port made sense. Dirt roads were often muddy. Railroads, although promising, were new and untested. Many investors considered plank roads a convenient alternative, and the Columbia and Missouri River Plank Road Company formed in 1853.

Providence, 10 miles away, was chosen as the port. Providence was the offspring of Nashville, which had been swept away by the flood of 1844. Nashville residents immediately laid out Providence, a mile and a half north. Providence businessman Joh Parker - owner of the hotel and port house - heavily promoted the plank road. In 1854, the construction contract was awarded to Jacob Barcus and Samuel Leonard of Louisiana, Mo.,

Road-building began in fall 1854, with completion scheduled for 1855. The rod bed was graded and drained, with wooden planks or crushed rock covering the middle 8-12 feet. A sawmill located halfway along the route cut a mile of planking every month. Although not ready until spring 1856, the road cost a reasonable $33,000.

But between weathering and heavy freight traffic, the plank road quickly went bad. The Weekly Missouri Statesman reported in February 1857 that "the PLANK ROAD between Providence and Columbia has been considerably injured by thaw and rain." In August 1857, after operating less than 18 months, the plank road couldn't pay its stockholders and was foreclosed for $8.700.

The road lived on-barely. After a Fourth of July trip in 1863, Thomas Gentry wrote that "at times the hack went up and down like a ship riding the ocean waves." The plank road was sold later that year at auction for $400. The last owners gave up their interest to the Boone County Court in 1866. William Switzler's 1882 History of Boone County, Missouri included the road's epitaph: "In a few years the rod was a ruin, and now not a plank of it remains."

Web link: [Web Link]

History of Mark:
"In 1850 the means of transportation in Missouri were dirt roads and river travel. River traffic was slow and dangerous at this time and dirt roads were often muddy and unusable. So the idea of plank roads seemed like a solution for better commerce and trade. At one point there were 49 plank road companies chartered in Missouri. Eventually the railroads dominated, and the use of plank roads declined. The roads warped and twisted in bad weather, got washed away in floods, and became traffic worn. Article mentions the Glasgow to St. Louis project and the last one built in Missouri being the Columbia-Providence plank road. Includes an illustration of the plank road." ~ Kansas City Public Library


Additional point: Not Listed

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