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Local History

Caves and Hobos

 White River from Branson Heights.  Click to enlarge.From the Springfield Republican, January 10, 1917, page 8.
Caves along banks of White River utilized by Hobos as "hotels"

That hobos making their annual pilgrimage along the White River division of the Missouri Pacific have gone back to the habits of the cave dwellers of the stone age is the information brought to Springfield by officials of the road who were over that division during the week.

The hobos find natural conditions and formations along the way much to their liking and usually dally along the road when they reach the limestone and sand bluffs where many caves have been fashioned by the waters in centuries gone by.

The caves afford protection from the weather at night, while the pure spring water bubbling forth near at hand is excellent for coffee or 'mulligan stew'.  Thus, the wanderers have all the advantages of a mountain hotel in point of fresh air, water and scenery.

Many of the caves have been made substantial camps, each 'guest' leaving behind him some improvement or comfort.  Improvised bunks have been made of fence rails, gates and other scraps of lumber and covered with blue stem, which also serves as a covering if the night is cool.  On a chilly night brush is piled against the mouth of the cave, leaving only a small opening and a fire is built at the entrance, the smoke trailing up the hillside and the blaze warming up the interior.  Scarce a night passes that the cave dwellings are not utilized."

The image of the White River, above, is from the book Merchants and Manufacturers Record of Springfield, Missouri and can be viewed at the Library Center.  Click on the image to enlarge it. 

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