Photos by Tim Huffman
A 1,000 square foot museum showcases the history of Lew’s plus other Ozark region people and companies. The museum resides in a building with Lew’s corporate offices and the Sportsman’s Factory Outlet in Springfield, Missouri.
“Lew Childre introduced a lot of industry ‘firsts’ from the 1950s to 1980s, many of which are still used in today’s fishing gear. The man and his innovations deserve a place of preservation in fishing’s history,” says Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves. “We have the BB1 serial #2 Speed Spool reel here, along with many of Childre’s earliest prototypes that I believe folks will find highly interesting whether they fish or don’t. These are things the public needs to see and we’re pleased to make that possible.”
Many of the items have come from Reeves personal collecting efforts, while the rest have come through company purchases or from donations by individuals. Reeves said among the most prized possessions are one of the Lew’s gold rings that Childre used to recognize special friends and achievements, the original pistol grip rod handles that Shag Shahid hand-carved from wood and ultimately led to Lew’s Speed Sticks being the country’s best-selling bass rods in the 1970s.
The J.D. Fletcher White River collection consists of more than 5,000 lures, a variety of other antique fishing items and scores of old photos of White River and Table Rock Lake area where Fletcher guided.
Lew’s President Gary Remensnyder says, “This museum captures an era and region of equipment heritage that without a doubt played a critical role in the development of today’s tackle. These items have rightly earned their place in fishing’s history.”
The Lew’s Ozarks Fishing Museum is accessed through the adjacent Sportsman’s Factory Outlet store. Museum hours are Monday thru Friday 9am-6pm and Saturdays 9am-3pm. Admission is free.