A trip on Highway 190 to the bottoms of the Grand River takes you to Lock Springs. Hills will family names like “Pepper Hill” and “Reeter Hill” are out beyond “Blacksmith Corner.” An impressive memorial to one of Missouri’s favorite sons, Jerry Litton, stands in contrast to business buildings long past their prime. Some might say Lock Springs is no longer much of a town; its population hovers at half a hundred. It wasn’t always so.
In the early 1900s Lock Springs boasted of two hotels, a blacksmith shop, a lumber yard, drug store, drygoods store, grocery, a stove bolt factory, axe handle and barrel & stave factory — and a newspaper! It was home to more than 300 people.
The town pump was covered by a bandstand. Town musicians, complete with uniforms, offered concerts.
Three springs ran out of a hillside at the edge of the Grand River bottom. For hundreds of years Osage Indians made an annual trek across the bottom land to the northern plain to hunt. A favorite camping spot was near these three springs.
In 1839 John D. Lock received a government grant of 320 acres which contained the three springs. Early white settlers began identifying the area as “Mr. Lock’s springs,” where women came by wagon to wash wool fleece while making cloth. Hence the town’s name.
Mr. Lock died in 1869. His land was divided and sold to Joseph Offield and Nathaniel Houston. In 1870 a hamlet called “Old Greasy” (because of its location near a particularly trecherous hill road) was moved — all three houses and one small store — to Mr. Houston’s portion of the ground near the springs. In 1872 Houston had the town of 14 blocks platted. A post office was established in 1871.
— Written by Peggy Wickizer for a 1995 Lock Springs Historical Calendar