In this ever-dwindling small town, this unique granite monument is one of the few tangible reminders that Gurdon, with its proximity to huge stands of timber, was once a thriving railroad and lumber-producing center. The event commemorated here was the January 12, 1892, founding of the first lumbermen’s fraternity, the Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo. Six men associated with the timber industry, five of whom were returning from a convention of lumber manufacturers in nearby Camden, found themselves stranded in Gurdon for what proved to be a fortuitous seven-hour train delay. Moving from the depot to the parlor of the nearby Hotel Hall, the group, after discussing the need for better communication, cooperation, and a code of ethics among lumbermen, organized the Hoo Hoo order, which exists today as an international fraternal organization with more than a hundred thousand members. As the name suggests, it was imbued from the start with a fun-loving aspect. Its symbol was to be a black cat with a tail curved into the shape of a 9 in reference to its nine lives. Accordingly, nine men were to compose the board of directors, the annual convention was to be held on the ninth day of the ninth month at 9:09 AM, and its membership was initially to be limited to 9,999. Borrowing a Lewis Carroll term, the presidents were called “Snarks of the Universe,” becoming “Rameses” after completing their tenures. In 1909 the group commissioned nationally known commemorative sculptor George J. Zolnay to create two bronze plaques commemorating the order’s founding to be affixed to an exterior wall of the Hotel Hall. When the hotel was demolished in 1927, the plaques were installed on the present rock-faced granite monument adjacent to the Missouri Pacific Railroad depot, a short distance across Main Street from the original hotel site. Two snarling black cats with appropriately curved tails perch atop the monument, which features heavy, stylized Egyptian themes. Under the prominent cavetto cornice with a winged sun-disc, flanked by twin Ramses figures below, is an image of the vernacular, frame railroad hotel along with the names of the founders and the purpose of the order: “the promotion of the health, happiness and long life of its members.” The opposite side features the names of all the “Snarks of the Universe” up to 1988, when two smaller flanking granite markers had to be added to accommodate the increasing number of names. The fabricators of the cat figures and the granite monument are unknown. The order’s international headquarters and museum are located in close proximity on Main Street.
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Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo Monument
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