Robin's Website

Branson and the Ralph Foster Museum, Missouri


Branson is a city in the U.S. state of Missouri in the Ozark Mountains. It was named after Reuben Branson, postmaster and operator of a general store in the area in the 1880’s. Situated amongst pristine lakes and forests, it attracts millions of visitors each year to what’s become known as the “Ozark Disneyland” for its 50-off live music venues, several theme parks and family-friendly shows. The photographs on this webpage were taken during a visit in August 2017 and also featured here is a section devoted to the Ralph Foster Museum, located some two miles to the south of the city.

In Branson, 76 Country Boulevard, and increasingly Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, is lined for miles by a wide range of entertainment venues, shops and restaurants. At the time of writing, entertainment includes much loved country acts, such as Buck Trent and the Oak Ridge Boys, as well as a wide variety of other acts such as Japanese fiddler-singer Shoji Tabuchi, Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff, and Acrobats of China. Branson Landing on the city’s Lake Taneycomo offers further dining, entertainment and shopping options. Some photographs from Branson may be seen in the thumbnail gallery below (click on an image to enlarge):

Family friendly attractions include amongst other things, the “World’s Largest Toy Museum” and an IMAX cinema. Unsurprisingly for a place of its popularity and visitor tastes, Branson is home to a Ripley's Believe It or Not! - the American franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that visitors might question the claims. The star exhibits here are probably the world’s largest toilet roll and the world’s largest string ball. Due to limitations in time, the main attraction seen whilst in the centre of Branson was indeed the Ripley’s and so some photographs from the visit are shown in the thumbnail gallery below (click on an image to enlarge):

Ralph Foster Museum

Located at College of the Ozarks on Point Lookout, two miles south of Branson in Hollister, Missouri is The Ralph Foster Museum. The collection here focuses on the history and culture of the Ozarks region, an area of the United States which lies in the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas (and covering a large portion of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri).

Although seemingly obscure to many, the primary purpose of visiting this museum, during a roadtrip in the United States in 2017, was to see one of its more famous exhibits, namely the original vehicle used in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies. However, the visit revealed much more than the author of this website expected.

Above: The original vehicle used in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies

Ralph David Foster (1893-1984), was an American broadcasting executive and philanthropist. During the 1950’s, he was responsible for creating the framework for Springfield, Missouri to challenge Nashville, Tennessee as America’s Country Music capital. His radio station (KWTO) based in Springfield, Missouri, helped launch the careers of many top country artists. His successful music business led to the creation of Ozark Jubilee, the first U.S. network television programme which featured top stars of Country Music. On the realisation of its vast potential for entertainment and education, Ralph Foster was one of the true pioneers of using radio as a medium for these purposes.

Above: Bust of Ralph David Foster in the Foyer of the Museum

Over the years, as a hobby, Ralph Foster was an avid collector of Native American artefacts. He had a keen interest in The School of the Ozarks (now College of the Ozarks) which, in turn, prompted him in the 1960’s to turn his increasingly vast collection over to the School's Museum. As a result of his enduring interests and generosity, The School of the Ozarks Board of Trustees voted to rename the Museum the "Ralph Foster Museum" in the mid-1960's. In 1969, Foster's financial donations saw to the addition of a new wing and a new entrance to the museum.

Foster was a keen hunter, fisherman and a strong conservationist. As well as Native American artefacts, he also collected Western artefacts and firearms for many years. The museum also houses antiques, dolls, circus toys and a miniature model circus, toys, furniture and household items, glassware, personal hobby collections, mounted animal displays and a display on Ozark music personalities. From its beginnings in the 1920’s, today the museum represents one of the Midwest’s foremost institutions of historical preservation with a primary focus on collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting items relating to the Ozarks region. Noted in the museum are famous visitors whom have come to the campus here at the College of the Ozarks over the years (as speakers) and these include, amongst others, world leaders such as President George W. Bush, and former Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher.

Some more photographs from this visit to the museum can be seen in the thumbnail gallery below (click on an image to enlarge):

Back to Top