By DAVID HOLSTED
HARRISON DAILY TIMES
MARSHALL There was just something strangely familiar about the house
that John Lorenz had come upon in the woods. The question nagged at him
as he pondered about where he might have seen it.
Then, two days later, he sprang out of bed. He finally got it.
I woke up and told my wife we had found the Shady Rest Hotel from
Petticoat Junction,Lorenz said.
Lorenz, a retired engineer from Greenbrier, is sure that in the woods
southeast of Leslie, just across the Van Buren County line, sits the
model for the hotel from the popular 1960s sitcom. Not only that, he
thinks the inspiration for Granny Clampett and even the town of
Hooterville, both big parts of producer Paul Hennings stable of
bucolic comedy hits, came from the Heart of the Ozarks.
Lorenz was at the March 26 meeting of the Searcy County Historical
Society, where he presented a fascinating program on his research into
a remote hotel that once hosted railroad workers, people looking to
escape the rat race and, just maybe, a young man who would create some
of Americas best loved television shows.
Lorenz is an avid hiker, biker and cyclist who has an insatiable
curiosity about his adopted Ozarks. He has never met an old house,
cemetery or bridge that he didnt immediately want to know more about.
When you first meet me, Im a little different,Lorenz said. You
have to slow my personality down.
So, when Lorenz came upon the old Shain Hotel while biking near the
small community of Rumley a couple of years ago, he knew he just had to
found out the history behind the house. Surmising that the hotel was
the role model for a television show just opened up more questions.
Who would have come here from Hollywood?Lorenz wondered. Whats the
Through painstaking research into county records and in talking with
local old-timers, Lorenz has pieced together the story of the Shain
A family and
William Shain, who was born in 1865 in Kentucky, built a house in about
1899 several miles from Leslie. It could have been built of wood from
the nearby woods, Lorenz said, or it possibly could have been an
example of a house kit that was sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company in
the early 20th Century. It was remembered as a very beautiful house.
William Shain also built a saw mill as a means of making a living.
However, the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad, which was
being built at that time, soon provided Shain and his family with
another source of revenue.
Tired railroad workers began to stay at the house at night after their
labors, and William Shain got the idea of opening a hotel. The location
became a flag stop on the M&NA. A few older members of Lorenzs
audience remembered when you could flag the train down at the Shain and
catch a ride to Marshall or Harrison. Shain would eventually build a
water tank by the tracks.
After the railroad was completed, in the first decade of the 20th
Century, the Shain Hotel became a getaway destination for people living
in the rowdy and boisterous boom towns that were springing up in the
region. Guests would stay a day or two in the woods at Rumley to
About 1915, Lorenz went on to say, the mill burned down, taking an
important source of income with it. The elder Shains went to Branson,
Mo., where they died in the 1950s. They are buried in Maplewood
Cemetery in Harrison.
Williams son, James, wanted to keep the hotel, but there was not
enough business to support his family. James Shain married a girl named
Vada, who became the love of his life. Unfortunately, Vada and an
infant son were killed in a cabin fire near Dennard.
Lorenz has located the graves of Vada Shain and little George Shain in
the cemetery at Dennard. His research into the Shains has made it an
I cant stand at the grave without getting a tear in my eye,he said.
When you get close to the family and you know their history, it just
gets to you.
A heartbroken James Shain and his surviving children moved to Harrison,
where he later married Jencie Lewis. However, he never lost his love
for Vada, according to Lorenz.
Lorenz has managed to locate one descendant of James Shain, his
granddaughter, Michelle Kennedy of Harrison. According to Lorenz,
Kennedy knew next to nothing about the hotel. Because of the sadness of
the familys story, her mother, Marie Monday, never spoke of it while
Kennedy was growing up.
The Shain house changed ownership several times in the intervening
years and today is a private residence on private property.
Henning created not only Petticoat Junction,but The Beverly
Hillbillies,Green Acresand The Real McCoys,all so-called
Lorenz has also researched Hennings history, and he is confident that
the television executive was greatly influenced by his experiences in
A native of Independence, Mo., Henning was a member of the Boy Scouts
and made many trips to scout camps in Arkansas, including Camp Orr in
Newton County. The only way to get to the Ozarks, Lorenz pointed out,
was by train. It was not unreasonable to think that Henning might have
seen the Shain Hotel in person.
I believe he went past that hotel in the 1920s or 30s,Lorenz said.
I have enough confidence to say when he developed that show, he had
that hotel in mind.
In making his pitch for the Shain Hotels inspiration for the Shady
Rest Hotel, Lorenz noted several similarities. Both begin with the
letters sh.Both are flag stops on three letter railroads M&NA and
C&FW (No one is sure what the letters stood for in the television
railroad. Some have suggested they stand for the names of the engineer
and fireman of the Hooterville Cannonball, Charlie and Floyd). Kids at
the hotel swam in the water tank, as did the Bradley daughters in
Lorenz went on to say that Hooterville, the hometown of Kate Bradley,
Sam Drucker, Oliver and Lisa Douglas, Arnold Ziffel and the others,
could have been based on Leslie. He pointed out that the depot in
Hooterville was located next to Druckers General Store, where the
train would take on supplies. Similarly, the train stopped in Leslie
next to a store and lumber yard, where supplies could be obtained.
Lorenz added that the Van Buren County town of Shirley represented
Hootervilles rival, Pixley. Lorenz said that Kate Bradley and her
family hated to go to Pixley, because it was a cash onlytown. Even
today, Lorenz joked, credit cards are not accepted in Shirley.
The television producer had to have had something in mind,Lorenz
said, in presenting his theories.
Lorenz insisted that the Shady Rest was not the only idea Henning got
from his time in the Arkansas Ozarks. As a Boy Scout, he would have
hiked up and down the hills and canoed on the Buffalo River. He surely
would have met Ava Barnes GrannyHenderson.
A friendly woman, Granny lived on the Buffalo and her front yard,
Lorenz said, was a favorite stopping-off point for those plying the
river. It would not be a stretch to assume Henning thought of Granny
Henderson when he created the character of Granny Clampett on The
Henning said he became very enveloped in the culture of the Ozarks,
Historical bike path proposed
According to John Lorenz, the old Shain Hotel can be part of an
extensive tourist draw to north central Arkansas.
During his presentation to the Searcy County Historical Society, he
described his vision for a biking/hiking trail that would follow the
former route of the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad, from Pindall to
Shirley, a distance of about 80 miles.
Lorenz said he and his wife have walked almost every mile of the route.
He described it as one of great natural beauty and filled with history.
The Mill Creek canyon alone, he said, has steep sides and 17 bridges
and creek crossings. Since it is a railroad grade, the pathway would be
raised and easy to walk or bike.
As a name for the trail, Lorenz suggested the MANA (named for the
railroad) Valley. He thought a sign could be placed somewhere near
Pindall, welcoming tourists to the historic MANA Valley. A logical
starting place, where tourists could learn about what the trail
offered, would be the St. Joe depot, which is currently being
In Lorenzs plan, each of the communities along the former rail line
would have the opportunity to build on the story. It was his opinion
that if the old Shain Hotel could be made a part of the tour, he might
be able to get Linda Kaye Henning, who played Bobbi Jo on Petticoat
Junction,to appear at the dedication. He also suggested that Max Baer
and Donna Douglas, stars of Beverly Hillbillies,might also agree to
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