For about a year, the city of Neosho has been working with various groups in an effort to increase the amount tourism to our town.

For about a year, the city of Neosho has been working with various groups in an effort to increase the amount tourism to our town. Until now, our focus has been primarily on ways to promote our parks and streams and working on ways to make more people aware of those great assets inside our city limits. Now, thanks to efforts by others in the community, another tourism push is on – and its focus only adds to the draw that will hopefully pull new visitors to the area.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege to attend a presentation put on by Steve Roark and the Newton County Tourism Council. That group debuted a new 15-minute promotional film that is designed to promote and draw tourists to Newton and Jasper counties. Their focus is on historic attractions – including the many murals depicting our area history.

Although I was born and raised in Neosho, I’ll be the first to say I’m guilty of not knowing all of the history and attractions we have in southwest Missouri. After attending the meeting, I learned a lot! And I left that meeting wanting to see and experience the attractions that were promoted in the film. 

While I grew up going to the wading pools in Big Spring park and seeing the mural on the old Safeway building, it was only after Wednesday’s presentation that I fully understood the historic ties to murals, Thomas Hart Benton, his grandson Anthony Benton Gude, and the other artists who have worked to create over 36 murals around Newton and Jasper counties.

Roark showed a page from the NCTC website what included an audio narrative about the Tipton Ford mural and the real story behind the motor car wreck of Aug. 5, 1914, at Tipton Ford that killed many locals and made national headlines. How did I not know that dozens of the victims were buried in a Neosho cemetery, blacks and whites together, with more than 5,000 citizens coming together to mourn those who were killed? How did I not know the significance of those parts of our history that have worked to shape the community we live in today? I don’t have an answer, but I’m now determined to learn and the NCTC has certainly laid out the path for me to explore our rich history in greater detail.

My hat is off to all who worked to make this firm a reality. We certainly do have a lot to offer those who come here to visit. And for those of us who call southwest Missouri home, I believe there is more here than most of us ever realized. Take a few minutes to go online and visit the NCTC website – – and checkout some of the attractions. Many of you will be surprised by variety of attractions we have right here in our own backyard. Thank you to Steve Roark for the presentation. You’ve done a great job!

Good luck to our Neosho Wildcat football team as they travel to Willard. Also, the Missouri Southern Lions made their first home appearance of the season Saturday night in Joplin against Northeastern State. If you are there, I’ll be tailgating in my usual spot. Stop by and say hello – Go Lions! 

Thanks as always for the continued support. Until next time: keep the faith, stay the course, and God bless Neosho!

Richard Davidson is the mayor of Neosho.