There is no shortage of “hidden gems” in the south-central Missouri Ozarks.

One such place can be found in the Jadwin area of Shannon County, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Texas County and Dent County borders. It’s called “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” and features cabins, RV pads, tent sites and a saltwater pool, along with the Big Chill Bar & Grill, where good food and drinks (both alcoholic and otherwise) are easy to come by. There is plenty of outdoor seating at the Chill, and the property is equipped for live music, both inside and out, with a big outdoor stage and fire pit ready for events in the warmer months.

For people like me who enjoy the natural beauty of this area, Big Rock Candy Mountain’s 18 acres is positioned in a spectacular setting, smack in the middle of a rugged landscape chock-full of the giant, majestic hills that led early settlers to label the region as the “Ozark Mountains.” And it’s only about a mile-and-a-half from the low water crossing over the upper Current River at Cedar Grove, which is a popular put-in spot for float trips and in a section of the river that’s well known for top-notch fishing.

The surrounding area boasts great opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching, four-wheeling and countless other activities, and nobody who sets foot there will deal with traffic jams, air pollution, annoying noise or crowded aisles.

But one of the best aspects of Big Rock Candy Mountain is its owners, Roger and Lela Franklin, who moved here from western Nebraska a couple of years ago with the goal of not intruding, but rather joining in on the way of life that was already in place and providing a great getaway destination for anyone and everyone, from locals to out-of-state travelers.

Big Rock Candy Mountain owners Roger and Lela Franklin.

You won’t find a more personable, interesting couple in the region. Their zeal for life is contagious and their smiles are infectious. They’re also obviously in love with where they now live, and they don’t take lightly the opportunity they’ve been presented with and recognize the unique niche they now occupy in the local business, recreational and human landscape.

Honestly, when you meet the Franklins you’ll know you’re with people who are not only fun to be around, but are sincere about their intentions to succeed for the benefit of not only themselves, but their regional neighbors.

One visit to Big Rock Candy Mountain makes it clear that it’s a special place. The Franklins have done a wonderful job of refurbishing and upgrading existing buildings and infrastructure, but they’ve also added structures and amenities that bring the whole place together and give it an uncommon and pleasant personality.

Basically, they’ve created a realm all its own in a way that’s both admirable and splendid, while still modest and unpretentious.

More good news for residents within the Herald’s readership area is that Big Rock Candy Mountain is just a short drive from Raymondville on Highway B. And make no mistake, the Franklins want to see people from Houston, Licking, Cabool, Salem and every other town in the area become familiar faces.

I know this: My wife and I will be in that mix.

Anyway, whether it’s adventure, relaxation or just plain family fun that’s the goal, I’m of the mind that Big Rock Candy Mountain is ready to deliver – in a significantly high degree.

Plenty of information about can be found online at or on Facebook. The phone number is 417-932-1223.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:

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Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at

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