In southeast Missouri lies Bollinger County -- 618 square miles of Ozark Highlands once occupied by the Shawnee, Delaware, and Osage indigenous nations. The county was named after George F. Bollinger, the leader of a group of Swiss-German pioneers who settled in Missouri from North Carolina in 1800. The area was incorporated as a county on March 1, 1851, from pieces of Cape Girardeau, Madison, Stoddard, and Wayne counties. Almost perfectly centered in Bollinger County sits the town of Marble Hill, which has a surprisingly rich history of dinosaurs, indigenous nations, pioneers, and Civil War skirmishes.
Marble Hill was founded as a town in 1851, although it went through a series of different names. It was first named New California by Thomas C. Hamilton, perhaps having something to do with the many pioneers moving west in search of California and its gold. However, as the town grew, it was given the name Dallas in 1852. It was under this namesake that the town was chosen as county seat for Bollinger County. Ultimately, this second name did not last either. Due to the nearby Dallas County, the name of the town caused much confusion. In 1868, the town was then renamed Marble Hill, which finally stuck. They chose this name due to the land's abundance of marble-like limestone. One last change took place in 1985 when Marble Hill merged with a nearby town called Lutesville, which was founded in 1869 and had more commerical development than Marble Hill. The two towns decided to merge in order to better prosper through what each offered: Marble Hill, being the county seat, and Lutesville, being a commerical center. Their communities had been intertwined since the beginning, so the change was relatively
Though tucked away in southeast Missouri, Marble Hill was home to many notable events in history. What might surprise many is that in 1942, dinosaur bones were discovered right outside the city limits. These were the first remains of such creatures found in the state, and some of those bones are now displayed at the Smithsonian. The Civil War left its mark and the community reemerged as a commercial and educational center of the county thereafter. Today, the city's past continues to be remembered through this tour.