Friday, January 30, 2015

A Depopulated Area?





I headed down a  stretch of road yesterday I haven't been on well over a decade. Not since my old days of kayaking every river and stream I could get into have I been that far down into South Central Missouri. Hwy 5 which meanders down the center of the State crosses over I-44 at Lebanon, Missouri at which point I turned South and followed it.

The headwaters of the Gasganade river meanders across the hwy here and there, that river and a couple of streams is what brought me down that way years ago. Also hwy 5 eventually passes by the Baker Creek seed place closer towards Mansfield.

The first thing I noticed just after leaving Lebanon was the number of abandoned houses and other buildings. For 15 miles more or less every old driveway now had a brand new green gate and a sign that said "Empire Ranch". At one cross roads I swear this Empire ranch had bought up an entire little town and left it to rot. About the time we crossed one arm of the river you could see a huge "lodge" had just been built up on the ridge looking over the river and it appeared to be quite expensive. I tried looking up what this place was but couldn't find anything about it on the internet so who knows. Obviously it has a lot of money to throw around.

What few places looked to be still occupied were mostly starting to look pretty run down. Stacks of firewood for sale outside and cattle appeared to be the only money making ventures going on. All the way down to Mansfield it appeared at least every third house or farm was abandoned with many for sale. Some of the abandoned places were in better shape the further South one went but the numbers didn't change.

It appeared to me somewhat creepy to be honest. I am not sure what has happened to that area.

There were a few homesteads along the way that showed some real resilience. Well stocked wood piles, chickens, some goats etc. but they were damned few and far between. The number of abandoned homes and farms though has me wondering just what is going on there though because it would be an ideal area to set up a self sustaining homestead.

If you have any info on the area let me know.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!


26 comments:

  1. I found some references to an Empire Ranch near Lebanon Mo which is referred to as a 10000 acre cattle ranch. One reference was a legal brief where the ranch started to prevent people from using a grassy parking area next to a small cemetery that they have been using for 100 years. Empire sounds like such nice people!

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    1. SD - Ya I found several business references but nothing that really told me who or what they are. Interestingly enough there was a sign that said something about a hunting fellowship and a lodge there before the turn off to that big expensive looking building. I think I saw the cemetery you are speaking of too right at where it looked to me a little town had disappeared.

      Sad to see so much history and small holders going away. It's such lovely country through there.

      Delete
    2. Oh ya I might add I saw zero cattle inside any of the properties marked with their distinctive green gate.

      Delete
  2. Nothing like that here as we are mostly too populated for anyone to easily buy up a ranch size portion so far.
    A few days ago the NS railroad announce that it was pulling all of the white collar employes (500 or so) out of Roanoke. That news caused a gasp about like when the titanic hit the iceberg. At the same time another company is cutting 50 more jobs. We are on the fringe of things and the fringe will start taking the hit first I suppose.

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    1. Sf - Ya I imagine that area was mostly a few big owners and the rest small ones which made it easy pickings for the buyer.

      The edges is where this thing get's it's steam. The more I read and hear the more I think this maybe the year.

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  3. Found little in a yahoo search but this makes it sound like a large produce farming operation.

    Empire Ranch
    Reviews 0

    417-532-7705
    Oakland Rd Lebanon, MO 65536 - Directions

    About Empire Ranch

    Empire Ranch is located at Oakland Rd, Lebanon, MO. This business specializes in Produce Retailers.

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  4. They also have a facebook page but since I do not do facebook I could not get in.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Empire-Ranch/161781090512999

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  5. An article from 2007 that may shed more light on it:
    http://archive.news-leader.com/article/20071101/NEWS01/711010416/No-takers-Plaster-s-land-offer

    Do a google search on "Empire Ranch Lebanon, Missouri" and it brings up more information.

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    Replies
    1. Fred G - Interesting article you found there. I saw the facebook page last night but it is just a blank page for the most part. The article says they have seen few cattle on his place and I didn't see a one on any the properties marked as his on the way through. Something still seems fishy about it. I noticed the article said something about blocking river access too.

      Thanks for digging that up it kinda confirms my suspicions.

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  6. You passed right by my mother. Gainesville. It is amazing how Dr populated it has become. People just walking awAy from homes. If she could get any decent money from her house she would sell and move up towards my sister in Seymour. Such beautiful places to kayak! I love coming there and visiting, always stop at bakers creek seeds!

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    1. LW - I didn't make it all the way down to Gainesville but I was close. South of Ava a bit.

      The number of vacant houses with for sale signs was just disconcerting.


      Delete
  7. I wonder if the run down looking homes are that way so they get pity from the taxman.

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  8. I noticed the same thing today! Very shocking!

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    1. Amy - Ya it was really weird. That's the only area I have noticed it so far.

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  9. Preppy - I have Facebook. The link takes you to information about a business similar to what is posted above. 9 people like the page but there seems to be no particular pattern or relationship that I can discern other than they all seem to live in MO.

    What do you think of the area, other than (I am assuming) no work? Better late than never to start thinking about land...

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    1. TB - Ya I saw the FB page it was nothing as you point out. The area looked like it would be great for homesteading. I saw no fields that looked as if they had ever been planted, just hay and cattle pasture, but maybe off the highway there was some. Still didn't look like a lot of big ag competition but plenty of room for homestead type farming.

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  10. Per the article Fred G. posted the county records show the guy doesn't own any cattle but could lease out the land for cattle. Possibly for a nice little tax write off. Big companies are buying up farmland and using them for tax write offs. I read an article a month or so ago about some nursing home chain that had bought a ranch that was something like 22,000 acres. Nothing more than a 'tax break' for a company that doesn't need it. Pretty sure the nursing home residents won't be out rounding up cattle on 22,000 acres. He may even be placing any of the usable land into the CRP (conservation reserve program).

    well, did a quick search using his name & maybe this is the reason ..... how about this one...... "Empire Gas is one of the largest retail distributors of propane in the United States and, through its subsidiaries, has been engaged in the retail distribution of propane since 1963." http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/922404/0000912057-94-001522.txt

    May just have a little natural gas under those properties....

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    Replies
    1. hobo - Well despite what the article said I know I saw a sign that mentioned the Empire Ranch hunting lodge and resort for what that's worth.

      I am not a geologist but I always thought that part of Missouri was not the proper make up for natural gas and such. But what do I know? It's a mystery...

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  11. Empire Gas was founded by Robert Plaster who died in 2008 and his son Steve Plaster apparently runs everything now including the Empire Ranch whatever it is, Empire Gas, Evergreen Investments, and from what I read quiet a few politicians at the local and state level. Very wealthy, very powerful, and just all around not very nice people according to some of the info I read. Google those names and you will learn more.

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  12. Big farms like that are never good news. I can never understand why one person wants so much. I was watching something last night about a farm in Australia and the farm they were on was three million acres in size. Unreal.

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  13. Obit for the old man.
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-10-12-3365001399_x.htm

    Robert W. Plaster

    LEBANON, Mo. (AP) -- Robert W. Plaster, a Missouri business leader who was accused in the 1970s of plotting to bomb a competitor's truck in an effort to dominate the propane business, died Saturday. He was 78.

    Plaster died of natural causes at his home south of Lebanon, Laclede County Coroner Steve Murrell said.

    He made his fortune by turning Empire Gas into one of the nation's largest propane distributors.

    In the 1970s, he was acquitted after the U.S. Justice Department accused Empire of antitrust violations by using a variety of tactics to acquire a monopoly of the propane market. The Justice Department also accused Plaster, Empire and another man of working with two other men to use dynamite to destroy a competitor's tank truck.


    Plaster was defended by famous lawyer F. Lee Bailey and acquitted after a three-week trial

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  14. If you ever go down to this area be careful because your rights as a u.s citizen no longer apply. The Plasters rule as kings in this area and consider every thing to be theirs. There is a village called Evergreen with a population of 28 that just happens to be named after Plasters investment company Evergreen Investments. They have their own police. They have their own politicians. You will be watched. Don't get out of you car. Don't get out of your boat because they own the land under the river. There is no public right of way only Plasters right of way. http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/missouri-officials-take-day-off-to-hunt-turkeys/article_cd295d40-8f1c-11e1-bab5-0019bb30f31a.html

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  15. I know someone who works on this ranch. They raise wildlife so that Politicians and Clients can come in and hunt trophy deer over a feed stand. Turkeys and other wild game also. They have been unsuccessful so for at introducing Quail into the area.

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