“Walking the Ozarks” – Narrative Feature Writing

The story below, published Feb. 4, 2004, was the first of a new feature series the Springfield News-Leader launched called “Walking the Ozarks.” As a young reporter, I was honored to be picked to set the tone for the series with this story. This story took several weeks of work and many hours of research to tell the tale of a town that time forgot. I’ve always enjoyed the narrative and the imagery in this piece. I always felt that this town could’ve been the model for Radiator Springs, the fictional town in Disney’s Cars. My favorite part of the story is the sixth paragraph: “Weathered buildings with Route 66 signs in the windows line the narrow ribbon of two-lane blacktop that ushers visitors to a simpler time. A time when the world wasn’t in such a hurry.”