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PLATTE COUNTY (C-3 on the Missouri Highway map).  I-29 runs north/south
and part of I-435 is in the southern part of the county.  About 58,000
people live in Platte Co., about 3,000 in Platte City, the county seat,
about 2,500 in Parkville, and 1,500 in Weston.

U.S. Senator Lewis Fields Linn was the able advocate of annexation of
the area known as the Platte Purchase.  He and Sen. Benton eased the way
through Congress to authorize the purchase of what has become Missouri’s
six northwest counties.  It took three treaties with the Sac, Fox,
Sioux, Omaha, Iowa, Oto and other tribes to secure title to the land the
Indians reliniquished in 1836--land secured to them only 6 years before
in the Treaty of Prairie du Chien.

For the 2 million acres, they received for each tribe: $7,500, 100 cows
and calves, 5 bulls, 100 stock hogs, a mill,  farm advisors, a
blacksmith, school master, interpreter and several “comfortable” homes.

When the Platte strip was added to the state in 1837 over Van Buren’s
signature, it became slave territory--a clear violation of the Missouri
Compromise of 1820.

Weston was the first town platted in Platte Co., named for Tom Weston,
an army private at Fort Leavenworth who laid out the town.  It was the
first in the area to have large hemp [for rope manufacture] and tobacco
warehouses (the tobacco industry thrives there even today), and was the
first city west of St. Louis to have gas works.

George S. Park was born in Vermont in 1811.  His life would make a great
movie.  He sold the family farm, moved to Illinois and began dabbling in
real estate there, then in Missouri and Texas.  He joined the flood of
Missourians volunteering to fight for Texas’ independence.  His unit
surrendered at the Battle of Coleto Creek after being promised they
would not be executed.  The prisoners were released  at Goliad, March
27, 1836, and were shot in the back as they left the gates.  342 were
killed.  Park and a few others dropped at the sound of the first volley
and, by lying still, survived despite lancers thrusting at anyone still
moving after the gunfire.  This was three weeks after the Alamo
encounter.  Today most only know half of the Texas battle cry:
“Remember the Alamo.  Remember Goliad.”

He returned to Missouri and laid out the town of Parkville.  In 1853, he
began a newspaper: The Parkville Industrial Luminary.  His anti-slavery
editorials and condemnation of Missourians crossing the river to vote in
the April 14, 1855, Kansas election were not taken lightly by a
significant number of Platte Purchase folk.  A mob raided the paper and
dumped press and type into the Missouri as Park, forewarned, hid and
watched.

When things had quieted down, he circulated a statement expressing how
happy he was to know that none of the good citizens of Parkville had
been members of the mob [they had and he knew it].  The astounding part,
though, is that he sued the leaders of the mob for destruction of
property and actually collected damages of $2,500.  He and Dr. John A.
McAfee were the co-founders of Park College.

At the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair, W. Elgin of Platte Co. swept the
competition among mule breeders and the “Missouri Mule,” already a
standard of excellence proven in the Boer War in South Africa, gained
famed as the stage and market were set for World War I.

A Burrowing Owl was found 21 April, 1965, near the Fairfax Bridge along
the Missouri River.

Little Bean Marsh was noted in the journals of Lewis and Clark for
hosting an abundance of wildlife.  The 427 acre Conservation Area
(including a 186 acre Designated Natural Area) is along the Missouri
River where where bitterns and rails, warblers and Marsh Wrens are found
in spring and summer, and hawks and eagles in the winter.  A viewing
tower  near  the parking lot provides a good view of the marsh.  There
are two paved trails and an observation blind.

Little Bean Marsh is 30 miles north of Kansas City on MO 45.  If coming
from St. Joseph, take US 59 south 18 miles to MO 45.  Continue south 4
miles on Hwy 45 to the area entrance on the right (watch for the sign),
and follow Westside Road along the edge of 200 acre Bean Lake to the
parking area.

Frances Cramer suggests:  Upon exiting Westside Road, turn right (south)
on Hwy 59 for 1/2 mile, turn right onto Eastside Road, follow this to
River Road which takes you to the very south end of Bean Lake. (the lake
is extremely shallow along here and many times has mud flats for
shorebirds).

Platte Falls CA is 2,333 acres along a 9 mile portion of the Platte
River (Missouri’s Platte, not the big one).  It includes ponds and 2
miles of hiking trails, as well as shotgun and archery ranges.  Take
I-29 to Rt. HH in Platte City.  Go one-half mile north on the outer road
(Knighton Ave.) and watch for the sign.

Weston Bend State Park (1,133 acres) is 2.5 miles south of Weston on MO
45/273.  It is probably the best place in the northwest part of the
state to be during warbler/vireo spring or fall migration.  The 3 mile
paved bike path that winds along a creek with great bottomland forest
teems with migrants, including warblers, vireos, cuckoos and flycatchers.

There are several trails, a campground with laundry facilities, and good
accommodations and food in nearby Weston or Platte City.  No Missouri
birder should miss an opportunity to enjoy Weston Bend.  See Frances
Cramer’s excellent description of the park and how to bird it in “A
Guide to Birding in Missouri,” the ASM bird finding guide.

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