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No Metropolis Needed in Southwest Missouri

Presidents and Captains

Most people would tell you that Lamar is a one-horse town. It’s the birthplace of one of America’s most popular presidents, but I’m going to give it two horses because of our lunch stop there.

We toured the birth site of President Truman, who remains the only Missourian ever elected to the White House. The small frame house is authentic — it’s where Truman was born and spent the first year of his life, and he attended its dedication on April 19, 1959.

We topped off our visit to this community of 4,500 with a meal at Cap’s Cabin, a delightful seafood joint that beats customers off with a stick. I couldn’t believe how many staff were working in its tiny kitchen just to keep up. There couldn’t have been more than a dozen or so tables in the whole place.

We had cream cheese poppers and fried okra bites as appetizers, then I had the deckhand dinner with fried flounder, shrimp and clams. The restaurant has moved to larger quarters since I was there, but I wouldn’t go to Lamar again without visiting Cap’s.

Johnny Morris Majesty

Our tour ended in Branson, and I had the opportunity to visit two new stops for me in mid-America’s entertainment mecca. Both can be attributed to the vision and business acumen of Missouri’s best-known entrepreneur, Johnny Morris, who founded Bass Pro Shops.

Our group had dinner one evening overlooking Table Rock Lake in Morris’ Top of the Rock resort. The resort is magnificent, but it was the golf course beneath us that ran off with my imagination. Carved into the Ozark Mountain hillsides, this immaculate layout was brilliantly lit for our arrival, and a few fortunate souls were hitting balls on the range under a clear evening sky while we dined.

The next day, we spent a morning at Morris’ Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a half-hour or so outside Branson. Morris bought much of the property years ago and then created a nonprofit foundation to fully develop it for guests. Comprising more than 10,000 acres in the southwest Missouri woodlands, Dogwood Canyon is a favorite with families and lovers of the outdoors for its bicycling and hiking trails, horseback riding, guided flyfishing and tram excursions. We said our goodbyes with a farewell lunch at its Mill and Canyon Grill restaurant.