Jerome, Missouri: Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial

Folk art, Ozark-style; rocky creations and metaphorical statues. Larry's self-portrait sculpture sits next to the entrance, offering a friendly wave to passers-by on Route 66. Larry died in 2003.
Address:
Hwy D, Jerome, MO
Directions:
I-44 exit 172 (Jerome). Turn north, then right at the T-intersection onto Hwy D toward Jerome. Trail of Tears Memorial is a few hundred yards on the left.
Hours:
Hopes to reopen by April 2018
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial

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Trail of Tears Memorial and Herb Garden

I visited the Trail of Tears Memorial today. I was greeted by "Rock Man" Chris and Marie. They are restoring this place and they have stories to tell and hugs to give. Larry Baggett's statue has been restored -- he's got his head back -- as have many of the rock statues. Chris has restored much of the Chief statue. This place is amazing and well worth a visit.

[Denise, 06/08/2018]

Larry Baggett, who built the Memorial, died in 2003 and his handiwork had fallen into disrepair. We're glad to hear that it's being restored.

Trail Of Tears

The gate is still up, but there aren't any posted "No Trespassing" signs or anything. Poor Larry's statue is headless now, and if there was once a fountain it's gone now. We walked up far enough to see that the house was definitely occupied, but that made us kind of nervous so we thought we should probably skedaddle quick... right after we scurried up the hill to get a picture of that weird bull statue. About then our dog started barking, so my girlfriend and I sprinted for the car. In retrospect, I wish we'd had the courage to go knock on the door and ask about the place. Maybe next time....

[Amanda Lipton, 03/27/2016]
Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial

I was here in May of 2009, and you can pull up to the edge of the driveway and see the artwork near the road and before the archway, but that was all you could see, because the driveway towards the house and property is blocked by a gate. It is still worth pulling over to admire; however. Mr. Baggett passed away a few years back, so the last thing I had heard, the fate of the property was unknown.

[KaraDeanne, 10/23/2010]

Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial.

Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial

Larry Baggett [who passed away in 2003] was one of those interesting old guys you hear about but rarely get to meet. His brand of folk art is, I think, the sort of dementia concretia that only an Ozark shaman like Larry could have come up with.

His self-portrait sculpture sits next to the entrance to his property along old Route 66, offering a friendly wave to passers-by. The entrance reads "TRAIL OF TEARS."

There's a sculpture illustrating some folk tale he told us about a deformed boy and the white buffalo he had as a pet. A wishing well he'd built out features a man pouring water out of his pitcher via a pipe connected to the spring that once fed the swimming pool at the late, great Stonydell Resort.

White buffalo and mutant boy.Larry's whole place was set up as kind of a monument to the Cherokee Trail of Tears, which goes across the property. Larry once told us a great ghost story about how he kept hearing a knock at his door late at night. He'd just built a retaining wall next to his house, and right after that, he started hearing this mysterious knock. He'd go answer the door, and there was nobody there -- and the ever-vigilant watchdog who slept next to the door never woke up when the knock would come.

This happened several nights in a row, and finally an old Cherokee happened to come by for a visit (Larry was kind of a homespun mystic -- he studied Indian lore, and he studied herbs, astrology, numerology, he'd studied with Edgar Cayce, and when he was young, he'd trained to be a Jesuit priest). Larry mentioned the knocking to the Cherokee, and the guy said, "Well, yeah -- you've built that retaining wall right across the Trail of Tears, and the spirits can't get over it, so they're just congregating around your front door."

Larry asked if he should tear the wall down or what. The guy said, "No, just build some steps so they can get over it." Larry built the steps, and he never heard the knock again.

Larry Baggett in 2003.He was quite a character. First time we met him, we'd gone up the long driveway leading to the house, and as we were turning to leave, he came out of the house in Big Smith overalls and said, "What's your hurry? Stop and visit!"

After exchanging pleasantries and telling us a couple of stories through the car window, Larry invited us in for a cup of tea. We don't normally make a habit of accepting invitations to come into a complete stranger's home in the middle of nowhere, but in the span of three minutes, we'd learned that Larry was into beekeeping, herb gardening, tree-hugging, and Route 66 -- our four greatest passions -- so we figured he was a kindred spirit and it was probably worth the risk.

We were right. Not a road trip goes by that I don't think of Larry and thank God we had the good sense to stop and visit with him while we had the chance.

[Emily Priddy, 12/18/2006]

We're sorry we waited too late to meet Larry! The property, now posted as "private," was sold in 2005, and serious deterioration was reported in Jan 2006, so there's no guarantee the sculptures are still there.

Wishing well.

Trail of Tears Monument

The "monument" is very dilapidated and has "No Trespassing" signs posted. Very sad as it looks like it was once a pretty interesting stop. The statues are breaking apart and falling over, and everything wooden is badly disintegrated.

[Ursula Rogers, 01/24/2006]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Cookin' from Scratch Chicken CarCookin' from Scratch Chicken Car, Doolittle, MO - 6 mi.
Bar with Bras on the CeilingBar with Bras on the Ceiling, Devils Elbow, MO - 6 mi.
Jurassic Diner DinosaursJurassic Diner Dinosaurs, St. Robert, MO - 9 mi.
In the region:
Missouri State Penitentiary Tours, Jefferson City, MO - 47 mi.

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