Branson Beginning, volume I : A Place Called Marmaros
Branson Beginning, volume I : A Place Called Marmaros

Long before the Silver Dollar City theme park, before The Shepherd of the Hills Farm and before Talking Rocks Cavern, there was a wild place in the Missouri Ozarks. This is the little known history of the hardy settlers who homesteaded the bald knobs and the deep hollows with many rare, never-before-published photos of that wonderful era of 1880-1910 near present day Branson, Missouri.

About this Project


Long before SilverDollarCity was:

A Place Called Marmaros

Written by R. J. Gunter

This is a book about a special place in the Missouri Ozarks near Branson, Missouri. It is a special place is with world class rides and roller coasters. It is also a place to view the crafts of a former era, such as blacksmithing, glass blowing, wood carving, pottery, candles and much more. It is a magical place where the Ozark history of the 1880s comes alive. The place is a very unique theme park called Silver Dollar City.


A Magical Place in the Ozarks

If you have ever been to Branson, Missouri, you know what I’m talking about. SilverDollarCity is unlike any other theme park. It’s a place beneath the cool shade trees on an Ozark hill. It’s an OzarkMountain town stuck in the 1880s, where the crafts, rides, food, and entertainment take you back in time.

My book, A Place Called Marmaros, is a time machine of sorts, that’s takes you back to the real things that happened on those Ozark hilltops. The history goes way back. MarvelCave was a deep dark hole in the ground, originally known as The Devils Den. The Spanish Conquistadores tried to mine silver there in the 1600s. The crude ladders they used are still down there today. They were a mystery to everyone who explored the depths of the cave—until now. 

The Branson of today is contrasted against the simple life of the Ozark hills as Harold Bell Wright described it. Branson is a tourist town that is loosing its history. People don’t come there for the same reasons they did 100 years ago. Every year, historic buildings are torn down to build new hotels and places to shop. Most of the old attractions, such as Sammy Lane’s lookout, the signal tree and Jim Lane’s cabin have been forgotten. They build more highways and theaters until little of the history is left in place.




This is volume I of set of three books that I plan to complete in the future. The first volume will cover the history up until about 1910. My book ends where most books on this subject have begun.


Where Will the Money Go?


Most of the book is already written and I have most of the historic photographs in my personal collection. However, their will be a lot of digital restoration, cropping, and resizing of the historical photos. The book text must be edited for publication and the layout design is a major task. I would like to be able to farm out some of the work to speed up the process.


Producing this book is a much larger task than most local history books. The entire book will be full-color on every page with colored backgrounds, full-bleed (all the way to the edge) photos, and informational sidebars. Yet, it is my goal to produce the book as frugally as possible, in order to deliver a very high value book to each customer at a price that is less than what a comparable book would cost in a book store.

Photo restoration and layout design                  


Book printing cost                                                       


Software, office supplies


KickStarter 5% final fee





Printed and Manufactured in the United States of America


We did NOT make inquires about the printing costs oversea. That idea wasn’t even considered. Today the vast majority of printing is done in third world countries. I will do my part to keep the jobs in the good old United States of America. The book will be printed in Missouri, by Missourians. The buck stays here.




Rick Gunter -- I’ve been crazy over the history of the Missouri Ozarks all my life. I grew up in an 1880’s ghost town with haunted houses to explore.  My favorite thing was to sit in front of a crackling fireplace and listen to the stories from the old folks of exciting days gone by.


I’ve worked for more than thirty years as software design engineer for several classified military projects. I’ve lived and worked in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado, and Tennessee. I’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of faces but my love of history, writing, and the Ozarks has always called me back home.


Now my dream is to live in the Ozark hills that I love. There are a lot of stories in me—stories of Civil War soldiers, bush whackers, God-fearing preachers, outlaws, homesteaders, and those who lived a simple life in these ancient mountains. I have researched and written several historical articles for magazines, local newspapers, and I have been a contributing editor for an online Christian magazine.  Now I am ready to do bigger things.


Risks and challenges


The book is mostly written but the research continues. If I run across something interesting before the book is printed, I will do my best to get it included. The majority of the historic photographs used in the book are in my collection. Again, if a rare photo turns up, I try to put it in the book.


The major challenge for us will be getting the book out quickly. The monetary goal set for this project is for the bare bones cost of doing the book entirely on our own. If more money is raised, we can farm out much of the book layout design. Although I could tell you the book will be out next week, I know that isn’t realistic. The project delivery date for this project may be several months—mainly because we live in the real world where everything takes time. As of now, I am scheduling a finish date of December 15, 2015.  We will keep all the project backers informed of progress by emailing regular progress reports. 




Frequently asked questions will added when they are presented.



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