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Show Me The State: Lake Of The Ozarks

Gerald Massie
The State Historical Society of Missouri
Bagnell Dam impounds the Osage River to create Lake of the Ozarks.

Today, on a map, Lake of the Ozarks looks like a sprouting, twisting tree root that covers 86 square miles. The over 1000 miles of shoreline are dotted with resorts and cabins. 

But that’s not what it originally looked like. It used to be just a river, the Osage River, bending through the middle of Missouri. And legend has it, whole towns still exist on the bottom of the lake. And if you get to just the right spot in the lake, you can hear the phantom bell toll of a church steeple that reaches up from the lake bed. Whole trees float up from the bottom of the lake. Sunken cemeteries rest on the floor. And large man-eating catfish hunt near the dam that created this whole lake.

Lake of the Ozarks is man-made. And the creation of the lake, pitted a lot of men against each other. So much so that before the story is over, there will be arrests, houses burned, towns buried under 100 feet of water and an unfamiliar industry will emerge - permanently transforming the area. 

Kristofor left KBIA in fall of 2021
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