Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written eleven nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, Murder and Mayhem in Missouri, and The Siege of Lexington, Missouri: the Battle of the Hemp Bales.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monegaw Springs

A few months ago, I wrote a brief entry about Eldorado Springs in Cedar County, Missouri, and I noted that it was one of many towns throughout the Ozarks that sprang up during the mineral water craze of the later 1800s and early 1900s. In fact, nearly all towns in the region that have the words "springs" on the end of their name were founded as mineral-water spas or resorts.
One of the earliest such resort towns in the Ozarks was Monegaw Springs, located about nine or ten miles west of Osceola in St. Clair County, Missouri. It was established before the Civil War and, like its neighbor to the east, was burned by Jim Lane and his Kansas jayhawkers during the war. It was rebuilt and began to flourish as a resort after the Civil War. It was during this time that it became a hideout for the infamous Younger gang. The Youngers often frequented one of the town's hotels and an adjacent tavern, and they used a secluded cave on the nearby Osage River as a hideout. A bluff above the river near the cave became known locally as Younger Lookout.
Monegaw Springs, like many of the other spring-water towns, declined dramatically after the mineral-water craze passed, and its fate as a near ghost town was sealed when the building of the Baldwin Lakes cut off easy access to the town. Today, the once-thriving little resort town is located in an out-of-the-way spot that few people visit.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the book caves of missouri by harlen bretz the cave over the osage river is the monegaw cave the cave by the little monegaw creek is the cleveland cave both are recored with state of missouri the same way
vic

August 5, 2012 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

I think the Monegaw Cave (the one on the Osage) is the one the Youngers supposedly used.

August 5, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Thom Knott said...

At the entrance of the cave their is a rock with the name GH Dorman chiseled in its face. This was my great great uncle whom associated and traded with the Younger James Gang.

October 29, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Tip Coleman said...

The cave at the bluff on the Osage River is below the Youngers Lookout. The cave on the Little Monegaw Creek, about 1/2 mile northwest of the center of the town is the Monegaw Cave. The land the Monegaw cave is located on was purchased from a Mrs Cleaveland by my father in about 1939 to 1943 and I grew up in the town, went to school there, and played in both caves frequently.

November 19, 2012 at 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tip coleman
is wrong all the records say the cave on the little monegaw creek is the ceveland cave not the monegaw cave records are right folklore is not right most of the time I KNOW I OWN THE CEVELAND CAVE
vic

November 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Mike McMillin said...

Looking for information on my grandmother Leta Coleman, born in or around Monegaw Springs 1883.

December 26, 2012 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

I don't know anything about Leta Coleman, but perhaps one of the people who posted followups to my original post, such as Tip Coleman, does.

December 26, 2012 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I explored the Cleveland cave many years ago. It appears to have been used by native peoples for many years as a mine for high quality chert to use to fashion blades and tools. The nodules can still be seen in the upper walls of the cave. R.H. Hawk

February 12, 2013 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

do any of you have any knowledge of a Rittermeyer family living there and having a small brick factory in Monegaw and owning land near caves? I would like any info and would like to buy some of the bricks embossed with the name Rittermeyer on them. thank you Paul Arnold paularnold217@centurytel.net
2/12/14 I think the time frame would be 1930s-1940s

February 12, 2014 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Doug O'Laughlin said...

Back in the 1950's my dad and (5) others bought some acreage at Monegaw Springs. It included the old abandoned school house, the cave above Monegaw Creek, a man-made lake, and the ruins of clubhouse hill which included the namesake spring which smelled like rotten eggs. We all sampled the water from the spring. I spent many a weekend there...fishing, exploring, going in the cave. Dad had a bass mounted that was caught from the lake. Once, we went in the cave to get some bat guano when we were pelted with bat dropping from the bats fleeing the cave.
A few times us kids would rent a couple of horses from the locals.
Years later a friend and I went back to Monegaw with metal detectors. Our destination was clubhouse hill. All I found was a 1904 dime. Ahh...many fond memories.

February 17, 2014 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous tip coleman said...

I was wrong. Previously I stated that my dad once owned the land the Monegaw Cave was on, and Anonymous said the proper name of the cave is "Cleveland Cave". That is correct, I was wrong - thanks for correcting me.

August 5, 2014 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous tipcoleman said...

Mike McMillin said...

Looking for information on my grandmother Leta Coleman, born in or around Monegaw Springs 1883.

December 26, 2012 at 4:01 AM

My dad's sister was named Leta Coleman, but she was born around 1908. She was born about 10 miles northwest of Monegaw. Perhaps the Leta you are looking for may have been an aunt of my dad's and of the Leta that I knew.

August 5, 2014 at 11:35 AM  

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