The Ralph Foster Museum on the campus of the College of the Ozarks is one of the famous tourist attractions in Branson that is actively supporting the vocational, academic and cultural goals of the college. Known locally as “The Smithsonian of the Ozarks,” the museum was named For Ralph Foster even though Foster wasn’t involved with it until the 1960s. The museum has grown to become one of the Midwest’s foremost institutions of historical preservation. As museum guest, you can explore exhibits and artifacts of the Ozarks region, including antiques, weapons, toys, art gallery, and more.
Started as a bird collection in 1920 in a men’s dormitory basement, Ralph Foster Museum now offers an intriguing and educational experience for guests of all ages to enjoy. It was the president of the school, Dr. Robert M. Good who had the idea for the museum to be set up on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. Subsequently, a space was made available for the display of items in the basement of Abernathy Hall, a dormitory for boys. When the dorm was finally vacated, funds were made available to convert the entire building into a museum.
The museum today is focused to collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit items relating to the Ozarks region. The original vehicle used in the television series “The Beverly Hillbillies” is one of the many exhibits that is currently on display in the museum. In addition, you will find antiques, weapons, dolls, natural history and other items from around the world. As an integral part of the College of the Ozarks, the museum seeks to actively support the goals of the school. It strives to provide quality education for the campus family and the community at large by focusing on the dynamic culture of the Ozarks region.
As one of the pioneers in radio, Ralph Foster was first to realize the potential, both educationally and as a new and exciting field of radio broadcasting. Foster and his partner Jerry Hall, set up a 50-watt radio station, KGBX in 1924 in a corner of their Firestone tire store in St. Joseph, Missouri. Their endeavor began as a hobby, but as more businesses increasingly sought on air advertisement, the station blossomed into a full-time vocation. So a brand new one-stop radio station and glassed in studios were built a few blocks north of the old tire store on Frederick Avenue and the age of radio begun.
In 1932, the station moved to Springfield, Missouri after Mr. Foster purchased the license of a radio station in Grant City, Missouri, and moved it to Springfield. Mr. Foster then formed the call letters K-W-T-O and the slogan “Keep Watching the Ozarks” became famous to everyone. As president and general manager of the KGBX, Mr. Foster devoted all his time and energy toward making KGBX, the dominant station of the Ozarks area.
So, if you want to know the colorful history of the Ozarks, visit the Ralph Foster Museum, a great afternoon getaway and a sure treat for every family.
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