Nostalgia is alive and well in the community of Aurora, one of the few cities in southwest Missouri that still has an outdoor drive-in theatre. Sunset Drive-In has been providing first run movies for over 60 years delighting visitors from throughout the area! Other signs of other classic stores of yesterday still remain in this Lawrence County downtown such as Western Auto, Ben Franklin Variety, Wooten's Rexall and Dryer's Shoe Store Aurora is known as "Summit City of the Ozarks" as it located on a high plateau in the state's southwest corner from which one can gradually descend into the Ozark Mountains. As one of the oldest mountain ranges in the United States, the Ozark Mountains retains its wilderness character, rugged, diverse and always delightful .... and this beauty surrounds Aurora. A mining accident back in November 1885 was probably the single most important day in Aurora's first hundred years. On that day, a workman digging a well ran into rock, set a charge of powder and blew up great chunks of pure galena ore. Soon zinc, lead and other precious metals were discovered in the area creating a windfall for the town. What followed could only be described as decades of a mining boom, attracting as many as 20,000 workers living in tents and wagons. After the mining died out, Aurora experienced more industry as Majestic Milling came to town in August 1905. Years later the MFA Milling Company expanded their operation into one of the largest feed mills in the world. The giant grain elevators stand today as a tribute to the historical significance of the mills operation and a welcome to visitors entering Aurora from the north along the Ozark Mountain Parkway. The coming of the railroad in 1872 soon resulted in the building of the Missouri Pacific Railroad depot which still stands today as a landmark housing a railroad themed museum and the Aurora Chamber of Commerce office. The growth of the mining business along with the vast milling industry was soon chronicled in the pages of a weekly newspaper in 1889 called the Aurora Advertiser which is still in publication today. Patriotism has swelled the hearts of Aurorans through the years. Company M, 2nd Missouri Infantry of Aurora, was called into action for World War I on August 5, 1917. While wait ing to be shipped overseas, the Aurora infantrymen befriended a stray hound dog that eventually traveled overseas with them. The dog returned to Aurora with the group and the "Houn’ Dawg" became the official town mascot. Today, Aurora has nearly 8000 "Houn’ Dawg" residents in this tightly knit community with many active civic groups, businesses, clubs, and churches as leaders and volunteers strive to make this area one of the best cities in the Ozarks. Main Street Aurora is a community funded project to invest in the downtown area with renovations and improvements to attract other businesses and investors. Longtime eating establishments such as Richard's Hawgwild BBQ and Bootlegger's Restaurant and Brewery have become dining destinations, attracting visitors from throughout the area.
The annual Houn' Dawg Pageant and Festival is a fall celebration for the entire Aurora community offering crafts, games and the crowning of the Little Miss and Mister Houn' Dawgand the Little Miss and Mister Beagle royalty!
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