Bollinger County trying to cash in on the Hypsibema hype

Monday, August 22, 2005

Community wants to cash in on its status as the place you can find the state dinosaur.

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Bollinger County, home of the Missouri Dinosaur?

That's the idea that was generated earlier this year after representatives from 50 Bollinger County businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and the city met to discuss how to increase tourism.

The gist of the idea would be to capitalize on the dinosaur bones found in Bollinger County, the bones that eventually led to the naming of the state dinosaur, the Hypsibema Missouriensis.

If you want to see where it was found or visit replicas of other dinosaurs, you have to come to Bollinger County.

"We are really excited," said Eva Dunn, president of the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History board of directors.

Some businesses are sponsoring a billboard on Interstate 55 that would say: "Bollinger County, Home of the Missouri Dinosaur."

And the billboard will have a 1-800 tourism number that dials into the city, Dunn said.

The Hypsibema Missouriensis is a large, duck-billed, plant-eating sauropod. By next summer Dunn hopes the museum will boast a full-size replica of the behemoth.

Currently at the museum are large dinosaurs on loan from a national collection. It will be there until Friday.

Dunn said the billboard will be eye-catching.

"And we are 25 miles from the interstate, and that bodes well for our overall economic outlook," she said.

She said the Missouri Department of Tourism says for every dollar spent at an attraction, $5 to $7 are spent in the local economy. Graphics for the billboard are being done in St. Louis and the billboard could be up by the end of the summer.

The museum already draws groups of students and other interested people from far and wide.

Dunn said the main intersection in Marble Hill -- Highways 34 and 51 -- is heavily traveled. About 11,000 vehicles pass through it daily. The museum is located on nearby Mayfield Road.

Bill Hopkins, president of the Bollinger County Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the economic conditions of the county are steadily improving. He also said the county is becoming more diverse -- the owner of Jay's BBQ is from Thailand, the owner of Woodland Steak House is from Greece and other residents who work in or near the county are from Laos, Germany and England.

"We have an outstanding business near Patton called Mouser Steel," said Hopkins, who owns Regional Title and Land Services, a licensing business with six locations and 25 employees. "Mouser sells Featherlight trailers. That place generates a lot of income for people."

Hopkins said Crader Distributing, a multi-state distributor of Stihl products, is a very successful business that has many employees. Also, Jer's a restaurant once located in Jackson, has moved to Marble Hill.

New businesses to the area includes The Chalet, an antiques store, Lane Furniture and Rent-To-Own. A McDonald's came to town several years ago and Country Mart, a large grocery store, anchors the busy Highway 34/51 intersection.

Jim Obert is a reporter for Business Today, a monthly business publication of the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: