Beauty & stories abound

The older I get, the more I realize that every person and every place has a story to tell.

In some instances, more than one story! Shawnee Mac Lakes Conservation Area is no exception. 

This 257-acre oasis located in Dent County sits just two miles east of Salem off of County Road 4110. 

It’s a fine mix of forest and grassland, along with two large fishing lakes. Ziske Lake covers 30 acres, while Turner Lake comes in at 17 acres. 

There are two boat ramps, a fishing jetty, two hiking trails that circle the lakes, and an archery range. Primitive camping is also available, along with picnic areas and a privy. 

This area is also great for wildlife lovers. When I visited, I got to see several types of birds and a deer crossed my path. 

Beyond all the amenities and beauty of the location, there are stories to be told for sure. One of the first things I wanted to know was why one of the lakes was named Ziske. 

It ends up that a man by the name of Dr. Ted Ziske grew up in this region. As a kid, he made a living off the land by fishing and frogging, along with turtle and crawdad collecting. 

When he went into the Navy during WWII he was in the Dental Corps. When he came back to Salem, he continued dentistry serving as one of the only dentists in a three-county area. 

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