The Old Owen Ranch

In 1875, as his diaries tell the story, Amos Owen purchased a buckskin map from a frail old man in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, for “a bag of molasses hard candy and a gallon of Tennessee white mule.” The old timer claimed that it was a map to a Spanish treasure that had been buried north of the White River.

Amos and his wife Sarah, along with daughters Grace and Hannah and the new-born James, followed this map into Missouri. Sarah’s diary entry notes that, “We found a beautiful little valley…and I think we found our home!”

The Owens settled into trying to scratch out a living in the rough Ozark hills even as Amos started excavating the opening of what appeared to be a long-abandoned mine. In the summer of 1885, The Springfield Herald reported strange lights being seen in the area. The locals began referring to the strange lights as “Foxfire” or “Spook Lights” These stories soon entered Ozarkian folklore.

Sarah writes, “…the more we work, the stranger things are becoming out here. We’ve found that we can work at night! The trees, the creek, even the rocks put off a light like I have never seen. We’ve set up an outpost with supplies so we can stay nearby. Just walking to the mine seems to give us new energy!”

Amos’ last entry on December 21st,1885, tells a tale… “Today we found what seems to be a silver metal door, but hard like iron. Unlike any metal I know of. The treasure must be behind this door and tonight, with the blessing, we’ll find it.”

So, on this frigid Winter Solstice Eve, 1885, the Owen Family was certain that their hard scrabble lives were about to change..

Did he use black powder to blast? His neighbors certainly reported loud explosions and great flashes of color. Wash Hembree, out hunting possum that night, told the Herald, “Stars were fallin’ from the sky, the earth was shakin’… and I was awaitin’ for Gabriel to blow his horn!”

As dawn broke, Hembree made his way to the Owen property to check on his reclusive neighbors. What he found defied explanation. The Owen Ranch, indeed, looked as if the stars had descended. Trees were down, their homestead was destroyed.

And there was no sign of the Owens. They had vanished.

Sheriff “Ikey” Combs finally showed up from Forsyth to investigate and confirmed that indeed that the family had disappeared. He put up a heavy chain across the road that entered the ranch and added an iron padlock.

A New Generation of Exploration Begins!

The mystery of the Owen family disappearance was eventually forgotten and no one entered the property for over 100 years. The deed to the property was sent to Amos’ well-to-do sister, Alma, and eventually to her great-grandson, Travis Sunday.

Using his family’s money, Travis was a vagabond who’d set out to explore the world. While visiting Peru to measure the great stone walls of Cusco’, he met the beautiful Maria Elena, a local archeologist and together they spent the next decade studying the science and mystery behind strange phenomena in the furthest reaches of the world.

Travis and Maria were intrigued by the property and the diary that came with it. They moved with their children Liam and Maya to the Owen Ranch, the current site of Ozark Nights.

Once here, they dedicated their lives to studying the still present phenomena that seemingly covered the whole property. Though not the hermits that the Owen family had been, they did not share their discoveries with the outside world out of fear of not being believed.

Travis, however, decided to partner with the Silicon Valley company Enigma Scientific, who using infra-red thermographic cameras, ground penetrating radar, radio frequency spectrum analyzers and other state-of-the-art hi-tech equipment began a five-year analysis of the property and all of its phenomena.

In 2024, Travis plans to not only release their findings, but to open the Owen ranch to the public, so all can see for themselves what is revealed during the Ozark Nights.

Enjoy the mystery of Branson's newest after-dark adventure, Ozark Nights! And don't forget to tag us @OzarkNightsMo and #OzarkNightsMo.

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