Looking Back: The Old Rock Road
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
When I was a young girl, my mother would drive my grandmother to Independence. Grandma always wanted her to take the old rock road. I had two objections to this plan. One, it was so much faster to take 40 Highway, which was a dual lane road west from Blue Springs. And two, 40 Highway was a relatively “straight shot” to Noland Road, whereas the rock road had lots of curves and at least ten or twelve sharp turns before reaching 23rd Street and eventually Noland Road.
The old rock road, as Grandma called it, was really R. D. Mize Road. But before it was named after Judge Richard D. Mize of Independence, it was known as the Blue Springs Road and called the “rock road,” because it was one of the first routes to the county seat that wasn’t a dirt road. It was one of the first roads in Eastern Jackson County that was easily traveled by automobile.
So what does all of this have to do with Grain Valley. Well, according to a “History of Grain Valley,” written by Frank Sebolt in 1936, Grain Valley was incorporated shortly after its founding in September 1878.
However, a few years later things changed.
From Sebolt’s account: “Sometime later the incorporation papers were revoked. The town was disincorporated (today we would say unincorporated) so that the R. D. Mize Rock Road could be put through Grain Valley at state expense. If the town had been incorporated, the state would not have furnished expenses for the road. The road was built in 1900-1901. August 31, 1903 the town was reincorporated and again began to prosper.”
When the town was reincorporated, the boundaries were somewhat larger than the previous ones. The old rock road made a sharp right at Buckner Road (later Buckner Tarsney), went straight south through the “disincorporated” Grain Valley and continued south about a mile before making a sharp left turn and continuing to Oak Grove and the county line. During the early years, the R. D. Mize Rock Road was truly just that. Rocks. Over the years, the rocks were oiled and eventually paved during the Pendergast years.
Today, R. D. Mize continues to zig, zag and curve it’s way through Eastern Jackson County, although at some points along the way it has lost its name. And like my grandmother, some days I enjoy taking the “scenic route” myself!
Visit the Historical Society on Wednesday or Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. We have new exhibits and extended hours through August 15, 2021, as we celebrate Missouri’s Bicentennial. Hope to see you soon.
For more information on the Grain Valley Historical Society, visit www.grainvalleyhistory.com.
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