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“Franklin Island – One family’s heritage along the river”

Presentation by Paul Davis, Cooper County Eastern District Commissioner

Paul Davis, son and grandson of the founders of Davisdale Farms, will share stories on the fifty-year history of his family’s livestock and crop farms at what is now Franklin Island and Davisdale Conservation Areas in Howard County, MO.

Franklin Island 1947

This is a view of Franklin Island on April 8, 1947, at flood stage (22.5 feet). This view is looking west (upstream). The Missouri River is barely visible on the left of the photo. The prominent stream is the chute that separated the island from the Howard County mainland.

Time and Place

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by Paul Davis, Cooper County Eastern District Commissioner

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If you intend on coming early to purchase an amazing dinner at Les Bourgeois Bistro before the presentation, PLEASE call to make a reservation at: 573-698-2300 and…tell them you are with the Big Muddy Speaker Series!

Presentation is FREE and open to the public!

The Davis family has deep roots in Howard County, MO, and along the banks of the Missouri River. Today’s Franklin Island and Davisdale Conservation Areas, in the floodplain and river hills across the river from Boonville, were farmed by three generations of the Davis family before being acquired by the Missouri Department of Conservation 35 years ago. This history stretches back to the days when Franklin Island was still an island, before the river was channelized by the Corps of Engineers and before today’s strong levees protected much of the rich Howard County floodplain.

Paul Davis, son and grandson of the founders of Davisdale Farms, will share stories on the fifty-year history of these treasured public lands prior to the acquisition by MDC. He will also describe the impact of the “Design for Conservation”, MDC’s land acquisition and management program made possible by a Missouri 1/8 cent sales tax.

Davis will also talk briefly about the history of Interstate Marine Terminals, Inc. (IMT), the barge unloading facility located on the north bank of the Missouri River, just downstream from the Missouri River Bridge at Boonville, Missouri. IMT was also owned and operated  by the Davis family for over thirty-five years. Davis successfully rebuilt the facility following the “Great Missouri River Flood of 1993”.

Franklin Island 1894

The Missouri River Commission maps of 1894 show a very different riverscape than our river today. This map portion shows Boonville, Franklin Island and a very different course of Bonne Femme Creek. This map was created before the Davis family moved to the area. (Click map to view a zoomable version). 



  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO
  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in upstairs in the restaurant. The restaurant is no longer open on Tuesdays but the bar is! You are welcome to bring your own food or snacks.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

is hosted by these wonderful partners.

Click here for a list of upcoming presentations»

Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.