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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

HPC endorses Arrow Rock Ferry Landing nomination to National Register of Historic Places

Friday, January 4, 2013

From left, Saline County Historic Preservation Commission members Mary Vale Jones and Mary Jo Berry and State Historic Preservation Office officials Tiffany Patterson and Jo Ann Radetic listen while Rich Lawson describes plans for developing exhibits at the historic Arrow Rock Ferry Landing. The commission endorsed Lawson's nomination of the property for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
The Saline County Historic Preservation Commission endorsed the nomination of Arrow Rock Ferry Landing to the National Register of Historic Places at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 3.

The commission also heard presentations by two officials from the State Historic Preservation Office as part of efforts to develop new historic districts in the county.

Property owner Rich Lawson was at the meeting to answer questions about the Arrow Rock Ferry Landing property and the nomination.

Lawson, a Missouri Valley College graduate and current Warrensburg resident, began his presentation by explaining how he came to own the Arrow Rock Landing north of Arrow Rock. He explained that when he visited his sister in Marshall as a young boy, she would sometimes take him to Arrow Rock as a recreational outing.

"I fell in love with the place and somehow knew I would wind up back in Arrow Rock," Lawson said.

Years later, he did exactly that when he bought the Arrow Rock Ferry Landing known as Todd's Landing. Lawson bought the 8.21-acre property with the intent of building a retirement home on the bluff top. However, his curiosity and diligent research of the land later dissuaded him from doing so.

When Lawson attempted to research the original property owner, he found Todd's Landing has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. A deep set of swales (low tracts of land) lead from the landing, marking tracks of a very early segment of the Santa Fe Trail.

Lawson believes these tracks are some of the oldest in existence because much of the trail from its source in old Franklin to Arrow Rock was erased by flood waters over the years.

Lawson also found significant evidence that American explorer Meriwether Lewis crossed his land on his way to build Fort Osage, as well as Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith and his followers.

The Santa Fe Trail has been thoroughly documented from Kansas City west, but Lawson said little is known about its eastern end.

"Many people think it started in Kansas City," he said. "It started in Franklin." And Arrow Rock was the main crossing point on the Missouri River.

He also described his plans for developing the site as museum, with a focus on preserving the terrain and providing educational exhibits featuring the tools, especially wagons, that were used by merchants traveling the trail in the early 19th century.

The commission unanimously voted to recommend the nomination go forward. The next step is for the Saline County Commission to consider HPC's recommendation. If the county commission approves it, the nomination will then go to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Two representatives from SHPO were also present to educate the commission and community members on the differences between locally established historic districts and federally established historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Jo Ann Radetic, certified local government coordinator, and Tiffany Patterson, national register coordinator, spoke about their area of expertise in establishing historic districts.

Patterson explained the National Register is the official federal listing of properties significant in history. She noted, though, that most properties on the register are locally significant, rather than nationally. To be significant, a property must have historical significance and integrity (authentic historic character), according to Patterson.

She said although the National Register is an honorary designation, many people remain wary of it because they fear the government will dictate what they can and cannot do with their property.

That's not the case, she said.

National Register listed districts should follow guidelines proposed by the register in caring for their properties, but these guidelines are not law enforced by the government.

The only exception is when property owners receive government funding -- usually in the form of state or federal tax credits -- to help pay for renovations. In those cases, historic properties must adhere to the guidelines, she said.

"It's a time-consuming process to be listed (in the National Register), but it's not a hard process," Patterson said.

Radetic informed HPC members about other options for creating local historic districts, and explained that this designation is much more open to local preferences and procedures. Local districts are established at the community's free will, and may or may not apply guidelines to historic properties. Radetic offered the example that historic properties may have as simple recognition as a plaque designated by SCHPC.

SCHPC planned to further discuss options for historic districts at their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.

Contact Chanelle Koehn at ckoehn@marshallnews.com

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