Vintage Vacation Paradise Contents

Chapter 1. Eldon, Aurora Springs & El Rancho Junction

Eldon, the northern gateway to Lake of the Ozarks on U.S. Highway 54, is rich in tourism and Rock Island Railroad history. Before the railroad came, the mineral spa town of Aurora Springs was its neighbor, now the two towns are one. After Bagnell Dam was built, tourist attractions sprang up just south of the city. This chapter features these show caves, nightclubs, animal parks and other attractions that no longer exist.

Chapter 2. Old Bagnell, Damsite & Bagnell Dam

The towns of Bagnell and Damsite near Bagnell Dam prospered during the construction of Bagnell Dam. During the last days of construction, the town of Bagnell burned to the ground. Damsite vanished forever within a few months. The airport that hosted the VIPS of the damís construction and visitor Charles Lindbergh also vanished. This chapter features rare photos of Bagnell, Damsite and Charles Lindbergh.

Chapter 3. Lakeside & Lake Ozark

When the construction of Bagnell Dam was complete and Lake of the Ozarks had formed, the former merchants of Damsite moved to the west end of the dam and the town of Lake Ozark was born. This chapter features vintage Lake Ozark roadside and lakeside accommodations and attractions that no longer exist.

Chapter 4. Osage Beach

As Lake of the Ozarks tourism grew into the mom and pop business years of the 50s and 60s, Osage Beach came into its own as the areas most diversified and prosperous resort center. Roadside curio stands gave way to fine restaurants, retail shops, and the Grand Glaize Bridge area developed into one of the most spectacular entertainment area of the lake region. The early entertainment definitely had a country western flavor.


Chapter 5. Kaiser & Brumly

These two small Ozark towns, to the east of Osage Beach along Highway 42, which is an eastern gateway to the Lake of the Ozarks, acquired their own unique tourism qualities in the 50s and 60s, focused on western entertainment, music, boating, swimming and fishing recreational pursuits at Lake of the Ozarks State Park and the headwaters of the Grand Glaize Arm of Lake of the Ozarks.

Chapter 6. Linn Creek & Camdenton

Inundated old Linn Creek and the attractions of its successor, Camdenton, are featured in this chapter; See the Kiplinger Ferry and its one-armed navigator; John McGowan, the areaís most famous pre-lake fishing guide; J. W. Vincent, the cantankerous newspaper editor who opposed the construction of Bagnell Dam; and two attractions that put Camdenton on the map -- the Dogwood Festival and the J Bar H Rodeo. And see the underground attraction that has been marrying people down under for more than 50 years.

Chapter 7. Ha Ha Tonka

The most unique collection of natural wonders to be seen in the Ozarks are found in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. See the man who built Ha Ha Tonka Castle. See the natural bridge, caves and chasms that hid outlaws of the 1830s. See the underground pools where blind salamanders were first identified for science. And see the rustic cabins of the early day tourists to the Ha Ha Tonka area.

Chapter 8. Hurricane Deck & Sunrise Beach

One historic structure in the valley of the Osage River survived the men who cleared the basin for Lake of the Ozarks Ė the old Iron Smelter of 1872. It still stands with its feet in the water. This is the land of old time fishing camps, the Governor McClurg Ferry that became a famous show boat on the lake, and the land were Sitting Bill, Chief of the Ozark Hillbillies used to spin his tall tales about the early days of Lake of the Ozarks.

Chapter 9. Gravois Mills & Versailles

Gravois Mills and Versailles are two areas with many contrasts where the early day fishing guides were widely acclaimed, where the regionís most unusual fishing pier was located, and where a chicken breeder from Kansas City became one of the first fishing enthusiasts to champion bass fishing at Lake of the Ozarks. It is also the location of the oldest show cave at the lake.

Chapter 10. Warsaw

A town as old as the Rocky Mountain fur trade and the days of the steamboats, Warsaw is at the headwaters of Lake of the Ozarks. It is the land of swinging bridges, and today, the town between the two largest man-made dams on the Osage River. See rare photos of the swinging bridge that collapsed into the Osage River taking the drover and his herd of cattle with it.