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Bourbon, Missouri had its beginnings in the early 1800's. Bourbon is believed to be the only town in the United States named for Bourbon whiskey. The beginnings of the city coincide with the construction of the railroad (first called the Pacific and later the Frisco).

The southern branch of the railroad was completed to Rolla in 1860. The construction of the railroad brought settlers to the area, encouraged by the availability of inexpensive land from the railroad, which was granted every other section along the right of way. Settlers also came into the country to homestead land and to settle on land granted to veterans of the War of 1812.

A road from St. Louis to Springfield was already in use, roughly following the divide between the Missouri River and the Meramec. The new railroad closely followed the route of the Old Springfield or "Wire" Road.

At that time there were several farmers living in the Bourbon area. A town was proposed one and one-half miles east of the present town. Streets were laid out and lots marked off, at least on paper, and the village was to be named St. Cloud. Richard Turner set up a general store on his property just west of the proposed village to serve the needs of both settlers and railroad workers who moved along with the building of the line. Camps were set up along the right of way and the workers stayed in some places several months, as was the case here where a 50 ft. fill was constructed at Boone Creek. Most of the workers were Irish Immigrants who built the railroad with picks and shovels and their own strong backs.

The Irishmen (and some of the settlers, too) were used to drinking whiskey, so Turner soon imported barrels of the new brand, Bourbon, which was becoming popular all over the New West. A large barrel labeled "Bourbon" sat on the porch of his store.

The barrel of whiskey was hauled to the construction project, and the Irishmen could go to "Bourbon" whenever they wanted a drink. Turner's store came to be called the "Bourbon" store, and the railroad workers soon called the entire area Bourbon.

When a post office was established in September 1853, the name was given as "Bourbon in the village of St. Cloud ". The town was never located at the proposed village, but was built further west where the steam engines could stop and start where there was no grade. The town of Bourbon sprang up along the railroad tracks and the Old Springfield Road, where it is located today.

Bourbon has never aspired to be a big city, with a cold, business-like attitude. Instead, Bourbon's businessmen and civic leaders strive to keep the friendly, neighborly manner that has long been an Ozark tradition. Bourbon people are just plain folks, who like to make friends and make you feel at home.