Within the Boone County bicentennial mural, Tom Bass trains a stallion in one panel as bikers ride the Katy Trail in another. Painted streams flow down the panels and connect to an image of the Missouri River. “It’s basically a treasure map,” says Stacy “Wildy” Self, the owner of WildysWorld! MuralMakers Studio and the mural designer and facilitator.
The Treasures of Boone County mural is part of the county’s 200th birthday bash. “We’re going to have a birthday party, but a birthday party ends, and you might have a memory of it, or you might have a T-shirt, but it’s not something very permanent,” says Boone County District II Commissioner Janet Thompson. The mural is a way for the celebration to last.
The mural is 16 feet by 20 feet and divided into eight puzzle piece-shaped plywood panels. It mimics the shape of Boone County, with each section representing one of eight larger towns. The mural will be displayed at the Boone County History and Culture Center until the end of 2020 when each piece will be returned to its respective community.
Although Self designed the mural, making it was a community effort. All of Boone County was invited to brainstorming sessions and community painting nights beginning in March last year to make their mark, and hundreds of people participated. “It gets the public involved in a historical moment,” Self says.
Self and Thompson say the mural can’t include every treasure, but it captures quite a bit. “It’s looking at who we are, and it can’t express all of who we are but should at least give people a flavor of what formed us,” Thompson says. Here’s a look at which pieces of the past locals chose to represent their communities.
Ashland: Residents painted the town’s downtown and general stores this past October. Dating back to 1853, Ashland is also represented on the mural through nature with the Three Creeks State Wildlife Area and Mark Twain National Forest.
Columbia: The columns stand tall, the Missouri Theatre shines bright and locals dance in Stephens Lake Park. Columbia’s section also features its vibrant city life, including The Blue Note and produce for sale in the Columbia Farmers Market.
Hallsville: Just 15 miles northeast of Columbia, Hallsville is named after pioneer citizen and postmaster John Hall. The post office, Finger Lakes and Red Top Christian Church are scattered throughout this section.
Harrisburg: A herd of cows dot the fields in this piece as a reference to Harrisburg’s cattle industry. Champion fiddler Pete McMahan also makes an appearance, along with the railroad that brought people to the region in the 1800s.
Rocheport: Grapes are featured along the riverbank to pay homage to local agriculture and Les Bourgeois Winery. The community’s sandbagging efforts from previous floods are shown on the piece as a symbol of the area’s resilience.
Sturgeon: This piece represents how transportation allowed people of different backgrounds to make mid-Missouri their home, from the settlers who came by railroad to the Amish communities living there today.
The Missouri River Community: Across the mural, streams highlighting the county’s interconnectedness flow into the Big Muddy. Missouri River Relief executive director Steve Schnarr says he enjoyed helping paint a piece of history. “There are so many communities that are right along the Missouri River in Boone County, and those are some of the oldest communities in the county,” he says.