The overflowing history beneath the Lake of the Ozarks
By Carissa Biele
Eighty-two years ago there was no Lake of the Ozarks.
Sat, 11 May 2013 16:45:00 GMT — Eighty-two years ago there was no Lake of the Ozarks. Dwight Weaver, historian and Lake Ozark resident for almost 50 years, said the location "was a back-woodsy area.?? An idea surfaced in 1912 in a Kansas City lawyer??s mind to build a hydroelectric facility off the Osage River as a source of power to the city. Ralph Street teamed up with a capitalist, and by 1924 they acquired the permits needed to begin work on a 2,543-foot long dam. The prepping stages for the immense construction project depleted them of money by 1928. The dam remained a vision until Union Electric of St. Louis started construction of the dam in August of 1929 and completed it only 22 months later. Astronomic tasks can be accomplished quickly when more than 20,000 men are employed to work 24 hours a day. Dwight said, "They said that if you were working on the dam you didn??t get sick, you didn??t complain, you didn??t come in late because they'd fire you...they had so many people waiting in line to get a job." Within that time, the stock market had crashed and the country entered the great depression. The dam was the largest on-going construction project in the country at that time. Men came from all around the country to get a job. The body of water begin to fill Feb 2, 1931, at a rate of one-and-a-half feet per day. But not everyone saw the new dam in a positive light. Several towns had to be relocated once they found out their fate was to be flooded by the new innovation. Dwight said, "There were only three towns of significant size. One was Linn Creek, then up the way a little place called Gladstone; population of 150, and then at the 44mm was Iron-town with a similar population.?? The Lake was projected to cover 55,000 acres with an original shoreline of 1,370 miles. The shoreline changed in the '70s when they built Truman Dam, and the lake was left with about 1,100 miles, which is still more shoreline than the coast of California. The Lake was full and the dam was open to traffic by May 1931. As for the name, it came from the closest town, Bagnell. One of the greatest engineering achievements of its time stands sturdy as one of the areas greatest attractions.
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