A recent column entitled “Seagulestions’ on the Highroad and Branson Landing show things haven’t changed much,” published in this paper and on line at www.OleSeagull.Com” made comparisons to the political environment in which the Ozark Mountain Highroad (Highroad) and Branson Landing were authorized to be built. In the case of the Highroad, then governor Ashcroft used a power that, according to published reports, had never been used before to authorize building the Highroad on a priority basis to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Branson.
The road, named the “Ozark Mountain High Road” is Missouri State Highway 465. It runs seven miles southwest from its northern terminus with Highway 65 north of Branson to its southwestern terminus with Highway 76 just east of Silver Dollar City. Locally the road is referred to under various names including “Pete’s Pike,” out of respect for all the effort Peter Herschend, one of the owners of Silver Dollar City made to get the road built, “Silver Dollar Highway” for obvious reason and “Maytag Repairman Way” because people traveling on it are normally as lonely as the Maytag repair man.
When the column was posted on the Ole Seagull’s Forum on the “1Branson.Com” message board, one of the Posters, Hunters Friend said, “All joking aside, Gary should now be able to at least understand the issue is not the highroad, but rather Branson’s enormous (and successful) attempts to hide its existence”. It’s actually kind of funny, a lot of folks, including The Ole Seagull, believe there was a political conspiracy to get the Highroad built initially and now there’s an allegation of a conspiracy about “Branson’s enormous (and successful) attempts to hide its existence.”
In his initial response The Ole Seagull said, “Is there just the possibility that the low use of the Highroad is more dependent on the fact that most people coming to Branson are staying in Branson proper and that the Highroad doesn’t help get them to their hotels or the majority of the other places they might want to go? How does the Highroad help get someone [those people already in Branson], to Branson Landing, Branson’s Theatre district, Titanic, major shopping malls, downtown, etc.”
Hunters Friend supported his conspiracy theory with a series of maps published by Branson businesses that, for the most part, are intended to be handed out to people already in Branson. These maps either don’t show the Highroad or show it to his satisfaction. Hunter’s Friend kind of summed it up by saying, “All of these are fairly pathetic, but I still maintain that the Best Read Guide’s attempt to bury the highroad is the best I have seen. 5 foldout pages and in the uppermost left-hand corner is a smidgen of a line for 465. Pathetic and comical all at the same time.”
The Ole Seagull responded, “The Ole Seagull doesn’t find the maps either pathetic or comical. He finds them filled with relevant information that most Branson visitors would want to use to get from place to place while they are in Branson. It is his personal opinion that the Highroad doesn’t show on most of the local Branson Maps for the same reason Highway 86 and 13 aren’t shown; it is irrelevant for most Branson visitors.”
Interestingly, although the two threads have garnered over 100 comments and 2065 views since being posted, no one, not one person has answered the Ole Seagulls original questions on the initial rational for building the Highroad, “Precisely how much has the building of the Highroad done for lowering the amount of traffic on Highway 76 or downtown Branson? Why would any business person, theatre, shop or restaurant owner on Highway 76, with half of an ounce of brains, want less traffic on Highway 76 in the mid 1990s or now?” While we are at it maybe one more would be appropriate, “Do you believe there is a Branson conspiracy to hide the existence of the Highroad?