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Silver Dollar City relives its history in new book

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by Eddie Bass

A few weeks ago, I received an ad from Silver Dollar City offering the book, "The Story of Silver Dollar City" at a discount of $3 or so.

I decided to order the book. I wrote a check and filled out the order form.

However, before I could mail the envelope, I received a copy of the book as a Christmas present from the publicity department of Silver Dollar City.

A note enclosed with the book said: "This book, a longtime dream of Lisa Rau's, took nearly a year to complete."

The note was signed by the Silver Dollar City publicity team of publicists Janet Oller and Martha Hoy Bohner, and by assistant publicist Traci Akers.

In the note, they also said that Lisa Rau wanted her Ozarks friends to have her new address:

Lisa Rau

The Vacation Channel

P.O. Box 124

Avon, Colo. 81620

Lisa Rau, of course, was director of publicity for Silver Dollar City before leaving recently to become an executive with the Vacation Channel in Colorado.

"The Story of Silver Dollar City" is an excellent book.

The 128-page book was authored by Crystal Payton.

The flyleaf of the book states, "There is no other theme park like Silver Dollar City in the world. Set in a densely-wooded, 2,000-acre Ozarks forest, the facsimile frontier village grew up around the entrance to one of nature's great wonders, Marvel Cave. The story of how it came to be and the remarkable people who created and developed it into an attraction hosting almost 2 million visitors a year is itself a tale worth telling."

The flyleaf also points out that the book is the story of two families.

"William Henry Lynch, an educated Canadian entrepreneur, and his two daughters, Miriam and Genevieve, opened Marvel Cave to tourists in 1894. The sisters operated it as a show cave for a half a century.

"Hugo Herschend, a Danish immigrant by way of Chicago, his wife Mary, and their sons, Jack and Peter, leased the cave in 1950. In 1960, the Herschends opened their 1880s Ozark Mountain village. It was built, literally and metaphorically, on the foundations of a real 19th century mining hamlet.

"Renowned today for its colony of working craftsmen and annual festivals celebrating world folk culture, music, families, crafts and Christmas, Silver Dollar City is an all-American family success story."

Payton tells the story of Silver Dollar City in great detail and with sensitivity.

However, we found one error in her reporting. She tells the story of how businessmen in the Branson area during the gasoline shortage of 1973-74 bought gasoline at black market prices and resold it at a loss to Branson area visitors to get them back home.

"This mutual support system became the Ozark Marketing Council, under the direction of Pete Herschend," she wrote.

That's not right.

The Ozark Marketing Council already was in existence when the gasoline shortage came along. It had been formed as a venture of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

It's true that the Marketing Council pulled off the gasoline stunt, but it wasn't formed as a result of it.

Otherwise, "The Story of Silver Dollar City," as far as we can tell, is an accurate account of its founding and growth.

I heartily recommend it to you.

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