Springfield, MO.— A new day dawned on an old friend. And though he left us in 1977, Lew Childre’s legacy lives on inside the halls of the all-new Lew’s Ozark Fishing Museum.
On May 19th, friends gathered, the press arrived and a giant blue ribbon sliced the air between Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves, President Gary Remensnyder and Childre’s surviving son, Casey, outside of the company’s Springfield world headquarters. Flowing through the museum and passing through the crowd were dozens of members of the Lew’s family who worked to make the dream of the Ozark Fishing Museum a reality.
The results of their labor? An impressive display of fishing memorabilia that brings the past to life. Here, in a quiet corner of a Missouri town that draws so many anglers from around the country, is a treasure. Here, you can get face-to-face with a BB1 prototype. Here, you can see the actual patents that Childre received for those early, ground-breaking fishing innovations. Here, faded photographs come to life.
The Lew’s Ozark Fishing Museum is not a large space. It’s tucked into a bay between the company’s offices and a classy retail outlet; but the depth of the museum is impressive. Much of the collection came from Reeves’ personal quest to preserve Childre’s legacy. Remensnyder will tell you that the idea sprouted six years ago; Reeves will tell you that it truly began decades ago.
Just inventorying the various lures displayed around the museum took nearly two months.
Either way you slice it, the collection is powerful.
It’s a must-see for fans of Lew’s or anyone interested in the history of fishing in general. A vintage 1975 Ranger bass boat highlights the display, and an archaic wooden boat beside it sits as a nice complement, but the true meat and potatoes is behind the glass. It comes from the hundreds of reels on display, the nearly-forgotten Lew’s hooks that somehow made it to market without eyelets (by design, not by mistake), and it comes in the gallery of vintage Lew Childre fishing videos flashing on a screen in the museum’s far corner.
It was in that corner that Childre’s legacies fused in a touching moment. There, away from the crowd, Reeves and Casey Childre stood watching those vintage videos of Lew. Images of friend and father jumped from the screen and into a room where so much of his life’s work now sits on display.
And for a little while—to the casual observer—it seemed that these three cornerstones of the Lew’s family were back together again.
The Lew’s Ozark Fishing Museum is located at 3031 N. Martin Avenue in Springfield, Missouri. It’s a short drive away from other famous Springfield attractions. Call ahead to (417) 881-5397 for more details.