Roaring River History
Roaring River State Park has been part of Missouri's park heritage for more than 70 years. Considered one of the most beautiful spots in Missouri, it has always been a top tourist attraction. It is also home to one of the oldest trout hatcheries in Missouri and an important part of the state's trout program.
At the turn of the century in the year 1800, the area around Roaring River must have been a welcome site to settlers just arriving. Pure, clear, abundant water flowed continuously through deep valleys that afforded shelter and wild game was plentiful. In those days, a large spring was the natural site to build a grist mill, and the homes that followed caused spring areas to become thriving communities.
Roaring River was no exception and drew many settlers. The first mill was a rather crude affair and was constructed in 1836. With the arrival of more immigrants, plans for a first class mill were put into action in 1845. This mill was sold to Thomas Ruble in 1848, who sold it to Barton Clements in 1853.
Clements had the good sense to sell out before the start of the Civil War in 1861. The next several years were a difficult time for the Roaring River area as lawless bands of Bushwhackers roamed the hills. Families were divided in their feelings and hardship was a constant companion. Indeed, the mill at Roaring River was completely destroyed and several people were murdered.
However, when the war ended, the mill was immediately rebuilt on the site of the present day CCC lodge. The next 30 years saw many mills including a sawmill and woolen carding mill as the population around the area grew. Eventually the era of the mill ended and the property consisting of 120 acres was sold to Roland Bruner in 1905 for 9000 dollars. He added to the property when he had the opportunity, eventually enlarging it to about 3500 acres.
Bruner started turning the area into a popular hunting and fishing resort known as the Roaring River Rod and Gun Club, adding cabins, hotel, hydroelectric plant and a trout hatchery He later acquired an partner in the property by the name of F.J. Bannister, a lumber company president. It was said that over a half-million dollars were invested here in these years.
But hard times came and a large portion of the property went into foreclosure, and in 1928 was sold on the courthouse steps in Cassville. The buyer was Dr. Thomas Sayman, a St. Louis soap manufacturer for the tidy sum of 105,000 dollars in cash. On December 6, 1928, he presented the entire holding to the state of Missouri for a State park. Thus, Roaring River State Park was born.