by Michael R. Allen
Over the weekend, I passed through Bourbon, Missouri and saw the old Bourbon Hotel. The abandoned railroad hotel apparently dates to the 1890s and served some time as a hostel before closing in the late 20th century. Many cities along the Frisco line had hotels like this one, with wide front porches facing the tracks. As passenger rail service declined, so did the economic life of these hotels.
There are no buildings in Bourbon listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and only five sites in all of Crawford County are included in the National Register. The Bourbon Hotel easily could be the sixth. My hosts did not know who owned the hotel, or what plans — if any — exist for preservation.
A short, spirited history of Bourbon (including origin of the name) can be found here. The conclusion is quite a treat: “Bourbon has never aspired to be a big city, with a cold, business-like attitude. Instead, Bourbon’s businessmen and civic leaders strive to keep the friendly, neighborly manner that has long been an Ozark tradition. Bourbon people are just plain folks, who like to make friends and make you feel at home.”