Montgomery County Journal

Where a Rock is not just a "Rock"

"Graham Rock"


"In 1884, the large sandstone rock located north of the Dr. Robert Graham house was used as the site of the fourth Montgomery County Old Settler's Reunion.  Soon thereafter it became the center of recreation for the entire area. 

The popular outing was to drive with horse and buggy over the Boone's Lick Road to the Minneola Spring, Graham Rock, and Graham Cave for a picnic. 

Some visitors would stay for a week of camping, boating, and hiking in the historic area.  Visitors would approach the rock from the south at Mineola, travel up Graham Avenue, and skirt the Graham's livestock barn before arriving at the rock.  At the time this outcropping was known as Picnic Rock or Graham Rock and the Graham home was well known for its hospitality.    

When Route 40 was constructed next to it in 1951, the rock became a roadside park.  In a contract between the State Highway Commission of Missouri and Emma Graham, Frances Graham Darnell, and Ward Darnell signed April 2, 1951, the parties agreed the Rock would not be disturbed by future construction.  The area remained undisturbed until 1963, when additional lanes were added to create I-70.  The lanes of I-70 now carry traffic through the famous old Graham picnic and camping grounds between Graham Rock and Loutre River. 

In recent decades a belief that slave auctions took place on this rock in the 1800's has become widespread across Missouri.  This belief has become so popular that the rock between the two lanes of I-70 is now widely known as "Slave Rock."  Since the Graham's farm was well-known throughout the area, it is possible that auctions took place there.  Although no documentary evidence for this assertion has been found,  there is a persistent oral tradition for it."

Bellamy, Donnie D.
1970 "Slavery, Emancipation, and Racism in Missouri, 1850-1865."
    Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia.

Darnell, Frances Graham
1979 Memories of Mineola, Missouri
299 Graham Avenue, Mineola, MO 63361

Duffner, Robert William
1974 "Slavery in Missouri River Counties, 1820-1865."
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia.

Grantham, Larry
1992 "Graham Cave State Park."
Missouri Resource Review. 9 (2),  Fall 1992.

Greene, Lorenzo J., Gary R. Kremer, and Antonio F. Holland
1980 Missouri's Black Heritage.  Revised 1993.
    University of Missouri Press, Columbia.

News Tribune, Jefferson City, MO.
1977, August 14.  Page 20.

Mexico Ledger, Mexico, MO.
1992, May 16.   Page 3.

Compiled by: Kevin McHugh, Agricultural/Land Use Specialist
Missouri Department of Transportation
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Submitted by Mathew Harris, great grandson of Mrs. Darnell


Associated File- Graham Cave State Park


Return to Table of Contents


Montgomery County Journal

note: For as number of years, there was, what appeared to be a wild turkey around Graham Rock. It could be seen nearly every time I would pass the "Rock" on Interstate 70. I have now been told that this was a female peacock who would lay her eggs on the Rock and the owners would have to go get them and take peahen and eggs back to the home place. If you have not seen this Rock, you can't imagine overall size of it, in the median between the interstate lanes.