Tecumseh curves project may be delayed as Rocky Top ‘historic’ cabins are assessed

Construction on the MoDOT project to improve the Highway 160 curves at Tecumseh may be delayed as the agency considers the historic value of the old, rock-faced cabins at Rocky Top Campground and Cabins. The original plan for the realigned roadway indicated that the five cabins would have to be demolished. Photo Rocky Top Campground and Cabins

Work to improve the serpentine Tecumseh curves on Highway 160 may be delayed as the Missouri Department of Transportation looks for ways to adjust its plans so the realigned highway can miss the old, rock-faced cabins at Rocky Top Campground and Cabins, which have been designated as being of historic significance. 

The exact age of the cabins isn’t known. Rocky Top owner Joe Easterday said last week he had been told they were built between 1948 and 1952, but other estimates set the cabins’ construction in the early 1940s.

“Because they’re rock and they’re old, the only way to move them would be to label the rocks and rebuild them somewhere else – disassemble and reassemble them,” Easterday said, adding that MoDOT had contacted him to say it will send employees to look at the cabins and begin the historical assessment sometime soon.

MoDOT project chief Pete Berry told the Times last week that MoDOT personnel are “still discussing” the matter of the Rocky Top cabins and how they will impact the highway project. At an Aug. 13 meeting in Gainesville to share preliminary plans for the project, Berry said MoDOT expected bids to be let in May 2020 with construction possibly beginning in July 2020 and a completion date estimated for November 2021.

Monday he said the start of the project will probably be delayed until sometime later in 2020, but he hopes the November 2021 completion date is still possible. “We’re trying to get it all resolved so that construction can begin,” he said.

MoDOT will look at “reasonable means of missing” the cabins, Berry said. “If you have to move the road to miss them, how much does it cost, is it possible, and how does it impact construction?” he said. “If it’s proven not to be feasible…, then the cabins can be removed. But that’s a 12-month-long process,” including studies and paperwork, he said.

Easterday expressed frustration with the announcement. Thinking the cabins would have to be demolished for the project, he had made arrangements to begin construction efforts for replacement cabins to be built in another area of the resort, starting in January. “We had hired people to do the dirt work and get things started,” he said. 

Instead, last week he was calling those contractors to cancel the work. 

Despite his frustration, he wrote an optimistic post for fans of the resort on the Rocky Top Facebook page.

The highway project “has just been put on hold by the historical people,” he wrote. “They say our cabins have historical value, it can take up to 12 months to work thru all of that paperwork and what needs to happen. So, anyone with reservations or making plans for next year, the stone cabins will be here at least thru next season according to information just provided us by MoDOT.”

Ozark County Times

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