Vintage Ozarks: Table Rock Dam

This is a real photo postcard, 1920s, by Payne Johnson, of Branson, Mo. The inscription reads: “Table Rock Dam will be built across the big sandbar.”

Shortly after Empire District Electric built Powersite Dam, creating Lake Taneycomo, the big electric company announced plans to build a 200-foot dam upriver at Table Rock Bluff.

Most bluffs along Ozark rivers are named. Table Rock Bluff had a relatively flat top and was accessible by road. A visit to this overlook was on many vacationers’ itinerary.

For decades locals anticipated seeing machinery in the valley below building a huge dam. That this never occurred frustrated dam supporters and led them to question if the utility really intended to proceed.

They didn’t. The Army Corps would build a high dam at Table Rock many years later. The Corps didn’t build it at Table Rock. They moved the location two miles upstream to a more stable geological site, but kept the name. Table Rock Bluff remains a popular scenic overlook, but is now fenced for safety – unlike the past as shown here.

(This feature is courtesy of Leland and Crystal Payton at Lens & Pen Press, publishers of all-color books on the Ozarks. Their new book, “James Fork of the White,” will be published in 2017. Some pages from this book can be seen on www.beautifulozarks.com. Their earlier river book, “Damming the Osage,” can be at seen www.dammingtheosage.com.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *