‘Father of Southeast Missouri’ Topic of Lecture Dec. 4


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 21, 2007 — “The Father of Southeast Missouri: Louis Houck” will be the topic of a lecture planned for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the John and Betty Glenn Convocation Center at River Campus.

Dr. Joel Rhodes, assistant professor of history and assistant director of the Center for Regional History and Cultural Heritage at Southeast Missouri State University, will present the lecture.

Rhodes’ lecture will focus on Houck, often credited as being the “Father of Southeast Missouri.” This lawyer, journalist, entrepreneur, Regent, philanthropist and historian brought railroading to the region, thus opening the area up to industrialization and modernization. From 1880 to 1920 the self-taught railroader constructed a provincial empire of roughly 500 miles of track over and through the wilderness of small lakes, marshes and wetlands covering “Swampeast Missouri,” Rhodes says. These “Houck Roads,” as his railroad networks came to be known, and the accompanying industrial revolution helped transform Cape Girardeau and southeast Missouri, ushering in a period of pronounced commercial, physical, and social development, he said. While developing the region economically, Houck also strove to make art, culture, and formal education available to all social classes in southeast Missouri.

Houck served on the Board of Regents of the Normal School – the forerunner to Southeast Missouri State University — for nearly 40 years.  Houck Field House and Houck Stadium at Southeast are named in his honor.

Rhodes, who will present the lecture, has taught at Southeast since 2001. He previously served as a lecturer at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rockhurst University and Johnson County Community College. He has taught courses in “Administration of Historic Sites,” “Problems in Historic Preservation,” “Introduction to Public History,” “History of Missouri,” “The Sixties Experience in America,” “Cold War America, 1945-1962,” “The Missing Decade: America in the 1970s,” “The Best Years?: America in the 1950s,” “Perspectives on the American Dream,” “Mass Media, Culture, and Society” and “United States Survey II.”

Rhodes holds doctoral and master’s degrees in history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He holds a bachelor of science in education degree from the University of Kansas, where he majored in secondary social studies.

Rhodes is a member of the American Historical Association, American Association for State and Local History, State Historical Society of Missouri, Sigma Pi Kappa, Historic Preservation Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta, International Honor Society in History, of which he has served as president of the Pi Phi chapter.