Although there are no big government dams on the James River, Table Rock Dam backs the lower James up almost to Galena.
So we covered the genesis of the Table Rock project in our new book, “James Fork of the White.” There’s no denying that the White River is prone to flooding.
The Army Corps of Engineers originally had no faith that dams were a solution to overflows. That would change and much of the White River has been incorporated into a system of multi-purpose dams.
Press photo of Forsythe in the 1927 flood taken from Shadow Rock. Rising in the Boston Mountains and flowing through a narrow valley, the White River would rise quickly and put buildings on low ground under water.
The Corps of Engineers’ solution protected most of Branson and Hollister from flooding but permanently submerged most of the agricultural land along the upper White River. Valuable farmland hundreds of miles downstream was protected from normal rises.
As these government dams were premised on flood control (power generation was an option), local advocates like the White River Boosters Association cried out to Congress for relief from floods, supporting the Corps of Engineers’ claims.
Felicity to the new patron of dams required a revised chant from the Missouri business community. When Empire District Electric was considering building Table Rock Dam, factory creation was the mantra.
Local supporters really didn’t care who built the dam, or why. They just wanted a nice lake, a bigger Taneycomo, at no cost to them.
(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)