It started as a whim, stoked by a “can’t”, and the foundation of River’s Edge began.
“What are you doing there?” said the neighbor walking across the street. The absentee owner replied, “I’m thinking about building a cabin here.” “You can’t build there!” the neighbor said, looking down the steep bank to the river. Old Joe the owner replied, “You can watch and see!” Telephone poles were put deep into the hillside and concrete was poured to hold them in the flood prone bank. A small 20′ X 24′ wood frame cabin was constructed on top of the poles and it sat unfinished and unoccupied for ten years.
James Broadfoot and family bought the little cabin plus 155ft of road and river frontage to make it a river store. Decks were built overlooking the river with picnic tables to dine on. Ice cream and pizza were favorites and the shady river view made that little spot a popular place during the summer. It was the summer of 1984 when I received the call from James about listing the property for sale. It was a hot summer afternoon that I had my first view. A cool south breeze wafting over the sparkling clear river graced the shady deck. Several people were enjoying their ice cream, sitting at the shady picnic tables overlooking the crystal clear Jacks Fork River. “This is a fun place”, I thought as I watched the people right out front enjoying the river. Several canoers were passing bye and there were kids swimming and tubing. Others were wading and fishing. It was an inspiring setting, and with the beautiful old arched bridge in the background to add to the charm of the spot – a classic picture. At that very moment something inside clicked, and I thought, “Wow!, What a location!”
My real estate specialty was “land with live water”, so I already knew about the Jacks Fork River. What a standout stream it was and is, as well as Shannon County, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Scenic Hwy. 19. This to me was obviously a combination of the “best of the best” surrounding a diamond in the rough. It left a lasting impression on me.
That impression put me on a mission, created a new challenge, and for a year I searched for a better location for my real estate office. The search led me to discover many unique features of the Ozarks and Eminence, and the wonderful natural assets of Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
It was difficult for me to show the little 155ft place along the river to prospective buyers, because it reeked with potential and I wanted it. In talking with several of the local canoe rentals (this is the “canoe capital of the world”), it became clear that quality lodging was definitely needed.
With all this in mind we decided it was time to make a move and secure that special spot. We had enjoyed the renovating of our 100 year old farm house that (at first) had no electric or plumbing, so we felt prepared for the hard work ahead. Our daughters Kate (five) and Joy (two) enjoyed the open country space, but Kate was ready to start school and it was time to move on and meet the challenge. Through praise on this area’s potential and a promise that he would not be sorry, we convinced the local banker to loan us the money to buy the little place at the bridge. We put no money down and used our farm house as collateral.
We started on our “River Store” in July of 1985 and could afford only small improvements, a little at a time. We were “out on a limb” financially and my property sales were critical at this time since that’s all we had to get this venture started. With inspirational advertising and divine intervention, we were able to sell some property we had invested in and acquired some new listings as well.
My wife Lynett drew the plans for the first six rooms and we put some creative local Mennonite carpenters to work. We all worked well together as a team. Lynett with her organizational skills, pleasing personality and Mennonite background work ethics, and I who could hardly drive a nail. The new two story cedar sided building with wooden decks overlooking the river seemed to fit nicely into the tall shade trees. We started to rent rooms in the summer of 1986 as a “bed and breakfast”, it really was a new experience.
Business boomed from the start, our registration office began in our little dining room. River Country Realty (my real estate business) was located in the little 11′ X 17′ building that once was the store. We even rented inner tubes for awhile (as the previous owner had) but soon realized that the canoe rentals did those sorts of things best.
With only 155ft of river frontage we were seriously limited for growth, soon we were able to purchase an “option to buy” on the ‘almost four acres’ upstream from “Old Joe”. The acreage included the “Old Johnson Cabins”, of which we used the old foundations to build our deluxe cabins. Little by little we added on rooms and suites until we finally outgrew the Bed and Breakfast.
In 1991 we had another addition to our family. Amy arrived early on an icy day in January. The midwife was a little late, and so Lynett and I have an old fashioned home delivery to remember.
So many times we were faced with a challenge and it never ceased to amaze us how things would come together. Not always, or at once, but so often there would be just enough for us to do what was necessary. We are very grateful that God has graced & blessed us with this business opportunity and special location…..