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From Missouri Conservationist: October 2020

Southwest Region | Bicentennial Conservation Area

A former fort and birthplace of a Beetle.

By Larry Archer

Missouri has a long history with famous military leaders, including Laclede’s Gen. John J. Pershing and Clark’s Gen. Omar Bradley, but Bicentennial Conservation Area’s (CA) military connection has an equally famous— albeit less distinguished — military career.

“Our paved trail — our ADA accessible trail with the observation deck — is the Mort Walker Trail,” said Forestry District Supervisor Adam Bale, Bicentennial CA’s manager. “He was the creator of Beetle Bailey, and Beetle Bailey was based off of the Fort Crowder army base.”

The 721-acre area, located on Neosho’s southeast side in Newton County, was once part of Fort Crowder, a World War II era training installation also known as Camp Crowder. Walker drew upon his experience at Fort Crowder to create Beetle Bailey, the comic strip that has run in thousands of newspapers since 1950.

In addition to Walker Trail, the area also has 7 miles of multiuse trails, Bale said.

“We get a lot of bicyclists — mountain bikers — and horseback riders on them,” he said. “The bicyclists like it because it’s challenging, it’s fairly rocky terrain, and the horseback riders like it because it’s a wooded area, and it’s pretty scenic to ride horses on.”

Bicentennial Conservation Area consists of 721 acres in Newton County. From the junction of Business 71 and Highway 59/60 in Neosho, take 59/60 east to Oak Ridge Extension, then south to Burr Crossing Road, then east to Landis Road. Continue east on Landis to Doniphan Drive, then south to area parking lots. | 417-895-6880

What To Do When You Visit

  • Birdwatching The eBird list of birds recorded at Bicentennial CA is available at
  • Camping Open camping
  • Hiking ADA accessible hiking trail with observation deck (0.8 mile). Multiuse (hiking, biking, equestrian) trails (7 miles)

Discover MO Outdoors

Users can quickly and easily find outdoor activities close to home, work, or even while traveling with our free mobile app, MO Outdoors. Available
in Android or iPhone platforms at

What to Look For When You Visit

  • White-tailed deer
  • Raccoon
  • Pileated woodpecker
  • Sharp-shinned hawk

Discover more nature at

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler