by Jose Kevo
September 8, 2004
Today, there's no shortage of lots containing trailers loaded with canoes, kayaks and watercraft. With surge of campgrounds and float companies, Where the River Runs is new slogan around town; basically last stop along waters before crossing into Oklahoma.
From Shady Beach, Elk River continues downstream towards Noel; a non-eventful stretch perfect for using inner tubes.. During Junior High years, brave parents took groups of us kids for all-day adventures. When using tubes as a group, consider renting a canoe for transporting coolers and possessions.
First memories of Noel were rather devastating - literally! Late 60's, a train passing through town had exploded leveling everything like from a natural disaster. Those same tracks still slice through the middle north-to-south, but Main street heading east-to-west has its own identity boundaries.
Tyson built a large processing plant in town for the region which leads Missouri in poultry farms. Migrant workers from south of the border began pouring into a County known for extremists and supremists. Returning from NYC, there was opportunity to work on a couple of projects for youth of illegal immigrants. Long-time locals, grossly outnumbered, have eventually accepted and now live/work together with everyone.
A variety of Hispanic stores, eateries and churches now line both sides of Main street unlike three years ago when there was still a very obvious division line. Harp's Hometown Grocer is probably the legitimate excuse for coming into town with more selections, better prices than convenient store plazas closer to the river.
Shadow Lake is on the left after crossing into town. Elk River widens into a serene setting that's been a popular gathering place for decades. At some point in the 70's, picnic area, which included platforms with trapeze bars, disappeared to become the open-air nightclub still here today. Sand volleyball courts we used to rule on Sunday afternoons have washed away. Sex on the Beach and other tropical libations served in glass fishbowls for $8.00 are also no longer on the menu.
Otherwise, it's still business as usual opening during warmer weather for evenings; longer on weekends. My boys and their college friends hang out sometimes sharing familiar tales of drunken brawls over jail bait - now, with a Latin twist. If nothing else, use this as a head's up Highway 59's curves and swerves are even more dangerous after dark.
If you'd like to try some authentic local food, Rosa's Mexican Restaurant on the main highway across from Tyson's, has a daily buffet with drink for about $6.00. They're open for lunch and dinner. I've never had a bad meal here and the store of Hispanic goods is always a good browse.
From journal Elk River's Call of the Wild