Rural Missouri Magazine

The Big Pump
Tri-County Historical Museum Society — King City, MO

by Bob McEowen

The only large thing at the pump these days is the price. But once, northwest Missouri oil jobber Rufus Limpp built a gas station shaped like an electric gasoline pump. The station, originally in Maryville, is long closed but the structure is now an exhibit at the Tri-County Historical Museum Society in King City.

The museum, along Highway 169 just south of Missouri’s first commercial wind energy farm, celebrates the history of Gentry, Andrew and DeKalb counties. In addition to the “Big Pump,” the 10-acre historical park features an 1800s log cabin, a railroad depot and caboose, two buildings full of artifacts and agricultural implements that date from King City’s days as “bluegrass capital of the world.”

The museum’s Limpp Building contains displays of donated items, which recall aspects of local life. Exhibits include Limpp’s collection of automobile and gas station memorabilia, a display of military uniforms, a beauty shop, a rural church’s furnishings and the merchandise and fixtures from a country store. Items from King City’s Lucile Theater include a stage curtain, hand-painted with advertisements touting local businesses of the early 1900s.

The museum’s Hammond Building is full of vehicles, farm equipment and various machines. Highlights include a horse-drawn hearse, the Linotype machine from a local newspaper office and a steam-powered thresher.

The museum’s buildings are open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The 25th annual Living History Day is set for Sept. 15, 2007. The festival features reenactors, historical encampments and a whole-hog barbecue. For more information call (660) 535-4391.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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