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Warsaw City

Warsaw City Hall is located at 181 West Harrison Street, Warsaw, MO 65355; phone: 660-438-5522.

Beginnings [1]

During the early years of Missouri statehood, steamboats were the queens of transportation, knitting together communities along the main trunks and tributaries of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. A major tributary of the Missouri River, the Osage, was an important freight route to interior locations, accommodating both barges and steamboats in normal as well as dry seasons. In 1855 the Missouri General Assembly appropriated funds to improve the navigability of the Osage. With these funds, they dredged the channel, removed snags and debris, and constructed wing dams between the mouth of the Osage and Osceola. These improvements facilitated the shipment of goods on the Osage as far as Warsaw and Osceola. Warsaw grew into a bustling river town, the largest town in Benton County, and a place of both commercial and strategic value. By the 1840s there were at least a half dozen ferry companies in Benton County, with three near Warsaw. Ferries, fords, dirt and plank roads, barges, and steamboats were the essence of the early transportation system.

Warsaw was a natural crossroads. Old Military Road (1846) crossed the Mississippi at Quincy, Illinois, then crossed the Missouri River near Boonville and the Osage River at Warsaw on its route to Springfield. The "Boonville Road" carried "six-horse stages and wagons passing through Warsaw each day, loaded down as they went south." When the Butterfield Overland Stage came out of Tipton in 1855, Warsaw assumed the role of an outfitting center. The federal government opened the Warsaw land office the same year. During the Civil War General Fremont and his forces built a simple pontoon bridge at Warsaw, thus allowing 3,000 soldiers to traverse the river. For decades the Osage was a busy purveyor of steam and barge traffic through Warsaw, and in 1880 a branch line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad linked Warsaw to Sedalia.

  1. Ann M. Legreid, Central Missouri State University and Lee Gilleard, Steve Mitchell & Scott Myers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Upper Bridge, Benton County, Missouri, nomination document, 1998/1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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