When we were gathering material for “Damming the Osage: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir,” we found that the imagery resources for some subjects we included were not available.
In the chapter on Truman Dam and Reservoir (originally Kaysinger Dam and Reservoir), we briefly covered the history of the two old river towns that were most affected – Warsaw and Osce- ola. Both were once booming steamboat destinations before the Civil War.
Unfortunately, we’ve never seen any daguerreotypes of pre-Civil War steam- boats on the Osage. Warsaw is at the headwaters of Lake of the Ozarks (1931) and had experience with the effects of high dams on economic and social life.
Osceola, farther upriver, had a modest hydroelectric dam built about the same time but the lake it created was scarcely more than a large pool. It preserved its past. We were able to find a handful of images to include in “Damming the Osage” that captured this lingering past.
By Crystal Payton
“Youngers’ Bluff.” Real photo postcard, also by Becraft. Eight miles from Osceola is Monegaw Springs, once a thriving spa destination. The sandstone bluffs hang out over the Osage providing a great view of the alluvial valley. The Younger Brothers outlaw gang did frequent this area but it’s conjecture that they ever looked out for lawmen from the bluffs. Their gunfight with the Pinkerton railroad detectives a few miles from Monegaw is fact.
These vintage postcards are used in “Damming the Osage,” by Leland and Crystal Payton. This 304 page all color book with 435 illustrations is available on www.amazon.com for $35. It can be purchased direct from the publisher for $25, postage paid, at either of these two websites: www.beautifulozarks.com
Real photo postcard of a 68-pound blue catfish, photo by Becraft. We’ve got several excellent images by this Osceola photographer but we haven’t come up with any biographical information. Huge fish are very much a part of Osceola’s identity. The fertile Osage River is better habitat for catfish and spoonbill than clear, springfed Ozark rivers.
“Osage River, Osceola, Mo.” Real photo postcard by Becraft. Osceola lies where the rolling prairies transition to the Ozarks. This is probably a few miles below Osceola.
Real photo postcard of one of the springs at Monegaw. The waters were so highly mineralized they often made people ill. The opportunities to socialize drew people from a wide area. Harry Truman even visited Monegaw Springs. There is little left at Monegaw Springs since Truman Dam; even before the dam, there were only a few (mostly empty) buildings. We uncovered papers indicating at one time Osceola businessmen tried to build a railroad to Monegaw.
“Clubhouse, Monegaw Springs.” Real photo postcard by Becraft. The huge log hotel contained a billiard table where the Younger Brothers and their friend Jesse James entertained themselves. They probably also sat on the porch sipping whiskey and regaling other pro-Southern guests with tales of their bank and train robberies. The log hotel burned in 1926.