A tragic fire at a publishing warehouse gave author Bill Hart the opportunity to produce a second edition of his Missouri travel book and to also include a destination point for Sedalia.

Hart will be in town to sign copies of his newly released book, “Historic Missouri Roadsides 2nd Edition,” on Friday at the Katy Depot. A fifth generation Missourian, Hart was able to amass photos and information for the book during his travels across the state working as executive director for the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation.

His first edition was published in 2016.

“The publisher had ordered a new printing of the book in November 2017,” he said. “As soon as it came in there was a fire in the warehouse, and all of the copies along with 350,000 other books burned at the Reedy Press warehouse.”

Since the books were lost, Hart spoke with the publisher and he decided to publish a second edition of the book.

“When you first look at the book, it looks like a coffee-table book,” Hart said. “It has a lot of large-format photographs, but it has road trips that are guided along two-lane highways in Missouri.

“It’s kind of like a travel book, in that it points out interesting sights along the way,” he continued. “I give a little history with each one of the towns that you pass through.”

Each town has a photograph along with a list of places to eat, stay, visit and shop. Hart said he only listed Missouri-owned business in the book.

“So, you’ll only find diners and local restaurants …” he noted. “It’s aimed at trying to promote tourism in small-town Missouri. I’ve noticed when smaller towns can kind of reinvent themselves and capitalize on their history, they, in turn, reap the benefits of heritage tourism. People come through town and they are looking for a unique experience.”

In the first edition, Hart listed six road trips; in the second, he eliminates one road trip, but added six destination points.

“These are stand-alone places,” he noted. “They are places that I figured merited either a long weekend stay or maybe a weeklong staycation. I am happy to say that one of those six destinations is Sedalia.”

In the book, road trips consist of “The River Road,” U.S. Highway 79 traveling from St. Charles County to the Iowa border; The “El Camino Real” traveling from Jefferson County to Missouri’s bootheel; “Osage Hills and Prairies,” traveling from Lebanon on Route 66 to Bolivar and on to Nevada, Missouri; and the “Route 24 Tour,” starting at Excelsior Springs and heading across the state to New London.

Hart said he decided to include Sedalia in the book because of all the “beautiful” Victorian architecture and an “intact downtown” with the historic Hotel Bothwell.

“People in Sedalia realize that their past is a part of their future,” he added. “Sedalia offers a unique experience for travelers and that will translate into heritage tourism and the economics of heritage tourism.

“For people who just want to pile in the car for the weekend, Missouri offers not only some of the most interesting places, but also some of the most beautiful places, I think in America,” he continued. “It’s my hope to shine a light on what’s right here …”

Hart will host a book signing at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the historic Katy Depot, 600 E. Third St. Hart is also the guest speaker for the Katy Depot First Friday event slated for 6 p.m. The event is part of the Speaker's Bureau program sponsored through the Missouri Humanities Council. He will have additional copies of “Historic Missouri Roadsides 2nd Edition” for sale for $39.95. For more information, visit www.historicmissouriroadsides.com.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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