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11351 Callahan Creek Rd
Harrisburg, MO, 65256
United States

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A Blue Cheese Label

Martha Folk

Third in our new label series is Moniteau Blue.  Most mid-Missourians are probably familiar with the word "Moniteau," applied as it is to a local river, creek, county and probably more.  The word dates back at least to the 17th century and derives from "manitou," an Algonquin Native American term for "Great Spirit."  The spelling was changed to "Moniteau" when French explorers named waterways in the Rocheport area.

In 1804 Lewis and Clark camped at the convergence of the Missouri River and Moniteau Creek, very near the spot which would become Rocheport.  Clark noted the red pictographs drawn by early Native Americans, probably Osage, high on the limestone bluffs along the river and creeks.  The three symbols reproduced on our label are from William Clark's own drawings, dated June 5-7, 1804, in the Lewis and Clark Journals.  Tying it all together is the thin line of blue water running through the center of the label.

Of course there is no way to know exactly what each symbol represents, but it is thought the first is a depiction of the Manitou, or Great Spirit, which is usually a human-like figure with what appear to be antlers emerging from the head.  The central symbol is believed to be a buffalo and the third a human with upraised arms.

Unfortunately, dynamite and picks destroyed most of the pictographs when the Rocheport Tunnel was built in 1892.

We love our blue cheese and its label.  The cheese is made entirely of goat milk from our own herd.  The cheese wheels, each weighing about 6 pounds, are pierced after four days.  This allows air to develop the signature blue mold as the cheese is aged over the next 6-8 months, resulting in a finished cheese with its sharp, distinctive blue cheese flavor.  Four ounce wedges of the cheese are available at the Columbia Farmers' Market.  Try some!