In the middle of all the July 4 celebrations this past weekend, the history of Neosho was not forgotten. Sponsored by Blue's Bike Co., Joplin, and Indian Springs Brewing Co., on the Neosho Square, some 20 bicyclists got an up-close and personal tour of some historic sites in Neosho.

In the middle of all the July 4 celebrations this past weekend, the history of Neosho was not forgotten. Sponsored by Blue's Bike Co., Joplin, and Indian Springs Brewing Co., on the Neosho Square, some 20 bicyclists got an up-close and personal tour of some historic sites in Neosho.
Led by Tim Booyer of the Newton County Historical Society, the Gears and Beers tour began on the Neosho Square and made a loop through the eastern and northern parts of the city. The first stop was the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, the oldest operating federal fish hatchery in the United States. Jamie Pacheo, a marine biologist at the hatchery, addressed the group and told about the founding of the hatchery in Neosho.
From the hatchery, they biked to Morse Park where Booyer told about the early days there, including the old racetrack, the dance pavilion and the hugh swimming hole. He said that at one time Morse Park was the center of recreation in Neosho.
Next was a visit to see "America's Largest Flower Box," located along Business 60 in Morse Park-North. This giant flower box, made from a railcar (a gondola), was brought to life by the late John Wright when he headed the local Chamber of Commerce. It is said to be one of the most photographed subject in Neosho.
From there, the group made its way to Young Street to see and hear about the 1872 Neosho Colored School where George Washington Carver got his first formal education. The school is in the midst of being restored by the Carver Birthplace Association. Booyer told about Carver's time in Neosho and his relationship with Andrew and Mariah Watkins, the couple who took the "Boy Carver" into their home while he attended the school.
The final stop on the tour was the Newton County Historical Museum and Park. The group heard about the county jailhouse that now serves as the museum, the little school house and the log cabin on the museum grounds.
"The cyclists had a really good time," Booyer said. "When this bicycle event was announced, it was decided to do more than just ride for so many miles. Susan Eberle, a Neosho native, came up with this idea."
Another group of cyclist held a 15-mile ride that same morning, but there were no stops like the shorter historic tour.
Blue's Bike Co. and Indian Springs Brewing Co. are working to promote biking in Neosho.
“The main purpose of this event is to promote bikes in the neosho and for peopel ride bikes here,” said Jeff Chase, one of the co-organizers of the event and who led the 15-mile ride. “There was no cost to participate in this event, it was just for people to show up and have fun.”

Daily News Managing Editor Todd G. Higdon contributed to this story.