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The Boonslick, or Boone's Lick Country, is a cultural region of Missouri along the Missouri River that played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States and the development of Missouri's statehood in the early 19th century. [1] The Boone's Lick Road, a route paralleling the north bank of the river between St. Charles and Franklin, Missouri, was the primary thoroughfare for settlers moving westward from St. Louis in the early 19th century. Its terminus in Franklin marked the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, which eventually became a major conduit for Spanish trade in the American Southwest. Later it connected to the large emigrant trails, including the Oregon and California Trails, used by pioneers, gold-seekers and other early settlers of the West. [2] The region takes its name from a salt spring or "lick" in western Howard County, used by Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, sons of famed frontiersman Daniel Boone.

Missouri River major river in the central United States, tributary of the Mississippi

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles (3,767 km) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. The river drains a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 km2), which includes parts of ten U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Although nominally considered a tributary of the Mississippi, the Missouri River above the confluence is much longer and carries a comparable volume of water. When combined with the lower Mississippi River, it forms the world's fourth longest river system.

Boones Lick Road

The Boone's Lick Road or Boonslick Trail was an early 1800s transportation route from eastern to central Missouri in the United States. Running east-west on the North side and roughly parallel to the Missouri River the trail began in the river port of St. Charles. The trail played a major role in the westward expansion of the United States and the development of Missouri's statehood. The trail's eventual terminus at Franklin was the start of the better-known Santa Fe Trail. First traced by the sons of Daniel Boone, the path originally ended at a salt lick in Howard County used by the pair to manufacture salt. Today the lick is maintained as Boone's Lick State Historic Site.

St. Charles, Missouri Place in Missouri, United States

Saint Charles is a city in, and the county seat of, St. Charles County, Missouri, United States. The population was 65,794 at the 2010 census, making St. Charles the ninth-largest city in Missouri. Situated on the Missouri River, it is a northwestern suburb of St. Louis.


The County Election by George Caleb Bingham portrays early political life in Missouri George Caleb Bingham - The County Election.jpg
The County Election by George Caleb Bingham portrays early political life in Missouri

Many of Missouri's early leaders came from the Boonslick. Its early French and Spanish colonial vestiges were overtaken by settlement of European-American migrants from the Upland South — largely Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee — who brought numerous African-American slaves with them. [3] [4] The region's borders often vary in definition but have included the present-day counties of Boone, Callaway, Cooper, Howard, and Saline. [5] Before and after the American Civil War, the area developed as the center of a larger region known as Little Dixie . [6]

Louisiana (New France) Administrative district of New France

Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

Louisiana (New Spain) Administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain

Louisiana was an administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1763 to 1801 that consisted of territory west of the Mississippi River basin, plus New Orleans. Spain acquired the territory from France, which had named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. It is sometimes known as Spanish Louisiana. The district was retroceded to France, under the terms of the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso (1800) and the Treaty of Aranjuez (1801). In 1802, King Charles IV of Spain published a royal bill on 14 October, effecting the transfer and outlining the conditions.

Upland South vernacular geographic region in the Southern United States

The terms Upland South and Upper South refer to the northern section of the Southern United States, in contrast to the Lower South or Deep South.

Franklin, Missouri, founded in 1816, became a large port on the Missouri River and an early center of settlement and economic activity. There, the Boone's Lick Trail ended and William Becknell blazed the Santa Fe Trail to the west. The Chouteau brothers of St. Louis had previously established a fur trade monopoly with the Spanish in Santa Fe, and the fur trade was the basis of early St. Louis wealth.

Franklin, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Franklin is a city in Howard County, Missouri, United States. It is located along the Missouri River. Located in a rural area, the population was 95 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Columbia, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.

William Becknell was an American soldier, politician, and freight operator who is credited with opening the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, which became an early major transportation route through central North America that connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. It served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. Becknell had used long-established trails made by Native Americans and Spanish and French colonial explorers and traders for years before his trip.

Santa Fe Trail Transportation route through central North America that connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, who departed from the Boonslick region along the Missouri River, the trail served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. Santa Fe was near the end of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which carried trade from Mexico City.

Columbia, Missouri is the largest city in the region; it is the location of the flagship campus of the University of Missouri system, which was established in 1839. George Caleb Bingham painted in both Franklin and Columbia. His works illustrate pioneer and river life in the early and mid-nineteenth century. Other early towns were Arrow Rock, Boonville, Fayette, and Rocheport. In 1827, Franklin was lost to the powerful floods of the river, and the town was re-built upon the bluff as New Franklin. The Smithton Company established the village of Smithton, Missouri, which would later grow into the city of Columbia.

Columbia, Missouri College town in the U.S state of Missouri

Columbia is a city in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is the county seat of Boone County and home to the University of Missouri. Founded in 1821, it is the principal city of the five-county Columbia metropolitan area. It is Missouri's fourth most-populous and fastest growing city, with an estimated 123,180 residents in 2018.

University of Missouri Public research university in Columbia, Missouri, United States

The University of Missouri is a public research university in Columbia, Missouri. It is Missouri's largest University and the flagship of the four campus University of Missouri System. Founded in 1839 it was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is a member of the Association of American Universities as well as a land-grant and space-grant institution. Enrolling 30,046 in 2019 it offers over 300 degree programs in thirteen major academic division. Its well-known Missouri School of Journalism was founded by Walter Williams in 1908 as the world's first journalism school; It publishes a daily newspaper, the Columbia Missourian, and operates an NBC affiliate KOMU. The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center is the world's most powerful university research reactor and is the United States sole source of isotopes used in nuclear medicine. The university operates University of Missouri Health Care, running a number of hospitals and clinics in Mid-Missouri. Its NCAA Division I athletic teams are known as the Missouri Tigers, and compete in the rigorous Southeastern Conference. The American tradition of homecoming is claimed to have originated at Missouri.

George Caleb Bingham 19th-century American artist

George Caleb Bingham was an American artist, soldier and politician known in his lifetime as "the Missouri Artist". Initially a Whig, he was elected as a delegate to the Missouri legislature before the American Civil War where he fought the extension of slavery westward. During that war, although born in Virginia, Bingham was dedicated to the Union cause and became captain of a volunteer company which helped keep the state from joining the Confederacy, and then served four years as Missouri's Treasurer. During his final years, Bingham held several offices in Kansas City, while also serving as Missouri's Adjutant General. His paintings of American frontier life along the Missouri River exemplify the Luminist style.

In the 21st century, the area is predominantly rural, with the exception of the city of Columbia. The region is adjacent to the Missouri Rhineland and maintains its own developed vineyards. The Katy Trail State Park runs along the Missouri River, providing recreational access by a conversion of former railroad lines to trails for biking and walking.

Missouri Rhineland area of the U.S. state of Missouri

The Missouri Rhineland is a geographical area of Missouri that extends from west of St. Louis to slightly east of Jefferson City, located mostly in the Missouri River Valley on both sides of the river. White settlements date to 1801. Dutzow, the first permanent German settlement in Missouri, was founded in 1832 by Baron von Bock. The area is named after the Rhineland region in central Europe, a wine-growing area around the Rhine river, by German-Americans who noticed similarities in the two regions' soil and topography.

Katy Trail State Park

The Katy Trail State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Missouri that contains the Katy Trail, the country's longest recreational rail trail. It runs 240 miles (390 km), largely along the northern bank of the Missouri River, in the right-of-way of the former Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. Open year-round from sunrise to sunset, it serves hikers, joggers, and cyclists. Its hard, flat surface is of "limestone pug".

The salt spring known as Boone's Lick in Howard County, Missouri BOONSLICK STATE PARK.jpg
The salt spring known as Boone's Lick in Howard County, Missouri

See also

National Register of Historic Places listings in Howard County, Missouri Wikimedia list article

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Howard County, Missouri.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Boone County, Missouri Wikimedia list article

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Boone County, Missouri.

Great Osage Trail

The Great Osage Trail, also known as the Osage Trace or the Kaw Trace was one of the more well-known Native American trails through the countryside of what are today called the Midwest and Plains States of the U.S., pathways originally created by herds of Buffalo or other migrating wildlife.

Related Research Articles

Howard County, Missouri U.S. county in Missouri

Howard County is a county in the U.S. state of Missouri, with its southern border formed by the Missouri River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,144. Its county seat is Fayette. The county was organized January 23, 1816, and named for Benjamin Howard, the first Governor of the Missouri Territory. Settled originally by migrants from the Upper South, it is part of the region historically known as Little Dixie. It is part of the Columbia, Missouri, metropolitan area.

Boone County, Missouri U.S. county in Missouri

Boone County is a county in the U.S. state of Missouri. Centrally located in Mid-Missouri, it is home to Columbia, Missouri's fourth largest city and location of the University of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 162,642; a 2017 estimate put the population at 178,271, making it the state's seventh-most populous county. The county was organized November 16, 1820 and named for the recently deceased Daniel Boone, whose kin largely populated the Boonslick area, having arrived in the 1810s on the Boone's Lick Road. Boone County comprises the Columbia Metropolitan Area. The towns of Ashland and Centralia are the second and third most populous towns in the county.

Boonville, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Boonville is a city in Cooper County, Missouri, United States. The population was 8,319 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Cooper County. The city was the site of a skirmish early in the Civil War, on July 17, 1861. Union forces defeated a small and poorly equipped force of the Missouri State Guard in the first Battle of Boonville. It is part of the Columbia, Missouri metropolitan area.

Arrow Rock, Missouri Village in Missouri, United States

Arrow Rock is a village in Saline County, Missouri, United States, located near the Missouri River. The village has important historical significance related to westward expansion, the Santa Fe Trail and 19th century artist George Caleb Bingham. The state's first state historic site is located here and the entire village is part of the National Historic Landmark Arrow Rock Historic District, designated by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service in 1963. Many structures within the village are also individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several locations are also certified sites of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

Little Dixie is a historic 13- to 17-county region of mid-to-upper-mid Missouri along the Missouri River, settled at first primarily by migrants from the hemp and tobacco districts of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Because Southerners settled there first, the pre-Civil War culture was similar to that of the Upper South. The area was also known as Boonslick country.

Route 87 is a highway in central Missouri. Its southern terminus is at U.S. Route 54 in Eldon, and its northern terminus is at Route 5/240 in Glasgow. Parts of the road are overlapped by the Lewis and Clark Trail and Santa Fe Trail.

Columbia metropolitan area (Missouri) Metropolitan area in Missouri, United States

The Columbia metropolitan area is the region centered around the City of Columbia in the U.S. state of Missouri. Located in Mid-Missouri, it consists of five counties: Boone, Audrain, Randolph, Cooper, and Howard. The population was estimated at 256,640 in 2017, making it the 4th largest metropolitan area in Missouri. Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, and is Missouri's fourth most-populous and fastest growing city, with an estimated 121,717 residents as of 2017. Other significant cities in the area include Moberly, Mexico, Boonville, Vandalia, Centralia, and Fayette.

The history of Columbia, Missouri as an American city spans two hundred years. Founded by pioneers from Kentucky in 1821 to be the county seat of Boone County. Its position astride the Boone's Lick Road led to early growth as settlers flooded into the Boonslick and eventually the West. In the 21st century Columbia is Missouri's fourth largest city and educational center.

Boonslick Bridge bridge in United States of America

The Boonslick Bridge is a series of girder bridges on U.S. Route 40, Route 5, and Route 87 across the Missouri River between Cooper County, Missouri and Howard County, Missouri at Boonville, Missouri. It is named for Nathan Boone, who built a road between St. Louis, Missouri and a salt lick northwest of the bridge, which was the first departure location on the Santa Fe Trail.

In the American Old West overland trails were popular means of travel used by pioneers and immigrants throughout the 19th century and especially between 1830 and 1870 as an alternative to sea and railroad transport. These immigrants began to settle North America west of the Great Plains as part of the mass overland migrations of the mid-19th century. Settlers emigrating from the eastern United States were spurred by various motives, among them religious persecution and economic incentives. After the end of the Mexican–American War in 1849, vast new American conquests again enticed mass immigration. Legislation like the Donation Land Claim Act and significant events like the California Gold Rush further lured people to travel overland to the west.

Millersburg is an unincorporated community in Callaway County, in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is located near the Boone-Callaway county line on the Owl Creek tributary of Cedar Creek. The Little Dixie Lake and Little Dixie Wildlife Management Area lie on Owl Creek just north of the community. It is on Missouri Route J about four miles south of I-70.

Flat Branch is a stream in Columbia, Missouri. It was the original water source for the town of Columbia and its forerunner Smithton. It is a branch of Hinkson Creek and begins Northwest or Downtown Columbia. Flat Branch Park straddles the creek between 4th Street and Providence. Flat Branch was so named on account of its low riverbanks.

Boonslick Township is an inactive township in Howard County, in the U.S. state of Missouri.

The Smithton Land Company was a group of American pioneers who in 1818 established the frontier village of Smithton, Missouri in the Boonslick region of Missouri, then the Missouri Territory. In 1821 the settlement was renamed Columbia, Missouri and relocated slightly East of its' original location. Smithton was the first county seat of Boone County. The company and town were named after Thomas Adams Smith, the receiver of the land office in Franklin, Missouri.


  1. "History of region" Archived 2013-10-05 at the Wayback Machine , Boonslick Historical Society website
  2. Barile, Mary. The Santa Fe Trail in Missouri. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press. 2010)
  3. of Change: Death and Cemeteries in the Boonslick Region of Missouri" Maryellen Harshbarger McVicker
  4. Babcock, Rufus, editor. Forty Years of Pioneer Life: Memoir of John Mason Peck D.D. (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1864)
  5. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Boonslick
  6. "History of Little Dixie". Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-05-17.

Coordinates: 39°04′59″N92°40′01″W / 39.083°N 92.667°W / 39.083; -92.667