- Europeans had been drawn to the early "Upper
Louisiana" territory in the 1730s due to the prospect of
mining lead. Close by, the area which later became Iron
County, was inhabited by Native Americans who used it as their
hunting ground. Known as "Lost Cove" by the
Delaware Indians, William and Joseph Reed were the first
settlers to arrive in 1798. Ephraim Stout built
a log house in the valley (as early as 1805-1807) along the
creek which still bears his name. It was not until 1836 that
the vast iron ore resources of Iron County were discovered.
Mining jobs brought many settlers to the region and in 1857
Iron County became a county in Missouri with its county seat
in Ironton. It was also in 1857 that the St. Louis and Iron
Mountain Railroad was completed all the way to Pilot Knob, foreshadowing
a series of events that led to one of the most important battles
of the Civil War in Missouri - The Battle of Pilot Knob at Fort
the hallowed ground of Fort Davidson State Historic Site honors
the brave Union and Confederate soldiers who fought and died
in battle. The
Iron County Courthouse, built in 1861, still bears the mark
of a cannon ball fired on its roof during the battle. Both the
courthouse and a gazebo on the lawn are listed in the National
Register of Historic Places. In 1861 Ulysses S. Grant received
his commission as a Brigadier General at Ironton and a monument
at the nearby Catholic church marks that location.
These Arcadia Valley Region communities became a popular nineteenth
century summer resort for wealthy families from St. Louis. Visit
the historic towns and villages of Iron County Missouri where
history is preserved as reminders of days gone by. Visit
Whistle Junction Visitors Center and Iron County Historical
Society Museum while on your Missouri Ozarks Vacation
to our region. They are located on Highway 21 in Arcadia.
about the fascinating history of Ironton, Arcadia and Pilot
Knob and tour these historic towns in
Iron County and view images of the historic churches, mercantile
buildings and graceful antebellum homes at this link.
If you are researching your family history in Iron County, Missouri,
you will find this Iron
County Genealogy webpage helpful.
- Reynolds County was organized in 1845, however long
before this designation, many early pioneers braved the risk,
hardship and sacrifice in search of their dream. . .a more productive
and rewarding life in our Ozark Region. In 1812
Henry Fry, who is said to have come from Kentucky as the first
pioneer, settled on the Middle Fork of the Black River
area in what is now Reynolds County. After the Louisiana
Purchase, there were ongoing discussions in established states
east of the Mississippi, about when the new "Missouri Territory"
would become a state of the Union. At the same time, land in
our region was being offered to veterans of the War of 1812.
Pioneer families from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee began
to slowly and steadily move to our region. The civil war
era presented tumultuous times for these early settlers, in
some cases pitting brother against brother and fathers against
sons. Many notable historic landmarks are present in Reynolds
County including Fort Barnesville, on the National Register
of Historic Places. Read
more about Fort Barnesville here.
Notably, after the famous Gads Hill Train Holdup in 1874, Jesse
James and his gang made their escape up the Black River along
the Lesterville Road, seeking food and lodging from farm owners
along the West Fork of the Black River in Reynolds County. According
to news accounts, "in all instances they behaved very genteelly"
and paid all their bills "lavishly."
Native American history in the Missouri Ozarks and
the Arcadia Valley Region, Black River Recreation Area goes
back to the Paleo-Indians, the ancient peoples of the Americas
who were present at the end of the last ice age. They camped
and hunted along Ozark rivers, perhaps as long as 12,000 to
14,000 years ago.
is believed by many historians that De Soto explored
our region while pursuing his dream to find a northern passageway
to China back in 1541. After "discovering the Mississippi
River", he crossed from Kaskaskia (Illinois) into our region,
meeting five different tribes of Native Americans along his
trek through what is now Southern Missouri, continuing on into
It was not until 1673, when Father Jacques Marquette and Louis
Joliet (who are most often credited with the discovery of Missouri)
sailed down the Mississippi River in canoes along the area that
would later become Missouri. The two established that the Mississippi
River ran all the way to the sea. In 1682, Robert de LaSalle
claimed the Louisiana Territory for France. Read
much more on the early history of the Missouri Ozarks, DeSoto's
explorations of this region in 1541 and the Native Americans
he found upon his arrival to the Arcadia Valley Region and Black
River Recreation Area.
Visit the Iron County Historical Society and Museum in Arcadia
and The Reynolds County Museum in Ellington to see their collections
of Native American artifacts found in our region of the Ozarks.
look forward to your visit to Historic Iron and Reynolds Counties in
the Southeast Missouri Ozarks!
Missouri Civil War History, Fort Davidson State Historic Site
and The Battle of Pilot Knob
counties of Reynolds and Iron are rich in Missouri Civil War
lore. Because of its strategic importance as the southern
terminus of the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad, Union
soldiers occupied Pilot Knob in Iron County. Fort
Davidson, the target of the Battle of Pilot Knob
in 1864, is a hexagonal earthwork constructed by the Union
Army and stands 300 yards from the base of Pilot Knob Mountain.
The assault on Fort Davidson by Confederate troops left 1,300
soldiers dead, missing or wounded. The fort and site are
listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Davidson State Historic Site serves as a memorial to those
who gave their lives on the battlefield, and the Visitor's
Center provides detailed information about the battle through
the use of artifacts, a diorama, and film. Additionally, a
self-guided driving tour around the Arcadia Valley Region
directs visitors to some of the most significant points on
the battlefields. Each stop is marked by a red granite monument.
Maps for this tour are available at Fort Davidson State Historic
re-enactments of the Battle of Pilot Knob are staged,
attracting tens of thousands of spectators to the Valley.
Be sure to make your plans now to attend the next re-enactment.
you are interested in reading much more about the Civil War
in Missouri, please
click here to learn how Missouri became embroiled
in the conflict, then take our online tour of Fort Davidson
State Historic Site and read all about the Battle of Pilot
Knob Reenactment held here every three years.