Gasconade, Missouri


By 1811 Isaac Best established a horse-driven grist mill near the mouth of the Gasconade River from which a hamlet later sprang up and took the name of the river. The town was the first county seat of Gasconade County and in 1821, missed being the capitol of Missouri by two votes.

According to Goodspeed's 1888 History of Missouri, the first settlers were John G. Heath, who built the first log house, and Mr. Shuman, who built the first frame house in 1868. The first druggist was Richard Zumwald, the first blacksmith was Joseph Mundwiller, the first shoemaker was John Wolter and the first grocery keeper was John G. Heath.

From about 1877 until approximately 1912, one of the largest ice houses was located in the town. The ice was cut from the Gasconade River during the winter months and stored in a long building where the ice was covered with saw dust during the summer months or until it was shipped. The ice was brought up from the river on a large conveyer.

Mr. William Jett and his son, Bufford, operated a tie mill in Gasconade in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Rafts of logs were floated down the Gasconade River to the town. A railroad spur along the river bank was used to supply box cars to load the ties on a ship to the different points where they were used to construct the railway. The ties were sold for about five cents per tie.

By 1811, Isaac Best established a horse-driven grist mill near the mouth of the Gasconade River from which a hamlet later sprang up and took the name of the river. 

In 1855, Gasconade was the scene of the historic railroad bridge disaster when on November 1, the first excursion train on the Pacific railroad, now the Union Pacific, was carrying many notables from St. Louis to Jefferson City for the opening of the State Legislature. The train broke through the bridge at the town of Gasconade with a casualty list of 43 dead and many injured.

The town is divided into 15 blocks and also into 255 lots of various sizes, because of the Missouri Pacific Railway, around which the town was built.

The Corps of Engineers Boatyard is the principal establishment of the town. At the lower end of the boatyard is the mouth of the Gasconade River.

(Additional information about the Boatyards can be found at the GCHS Archives in an article by Jim Thomas in the GCHS Newsletter, Vol. IX, No. 1, Spring 1998)

"On December 27, 1820, Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the famous pioneer, Daniel Boone, was appointed the first of several commissioners of Gasconade County 'to find the most suitable place for the erection of a courthouse and jail in the County of Gasconade.' He and other commissioners selected a 50-acre site near the mouth of the Gasconade River at the town then called Gasconade City, now just Gasconade. They paid $10 for the 50 acres. This was the first county seat. No description of a courthouse at this site has been found. Court records of the period indicate that the court continued to meet at the homes of various citizens. In 1825, because of the repeated flooding of the courthouse site at Gasconade City, the county seat was moved to the new town of Bartonsville, also near the Gasconade River. That part of the then larger Gasconade County, in what is now Osage County."

--Randolph Puchta (GCHS Newsletter, Vol. IX, No. 4, Winter 1996)