A Brief History of Table Rock Lake

History Of Table Rock Lake

Beautiful Table Rock Lake in Missouri has an intriguing history. Before 1958 Table Rock Lake didn’t even exist.

Floods from the White River plagued the town of Branson, MO. The US Corps of Engineers built Table Rock Dam to control those floods. Table Rock Lake soon followed.

Now, Table Rock Lake draws visitors and homeowners from across the country. The natural beauty of the Ozarks combined with the recreational opportunities of Table Rock Lake is hard to resist.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a year-round or vacation home along the shores of Table Rock Lake, you might like to know a bit more about this fascinating part of the country. We put together a brief history of Table Rock Lake, just for you.

Before the Dam

More than 10,000 years ago, American Indians began living in the area around what is now called White River. The Osage, followed later by the Shawnee and Cherokee, made this region their home.

In 1818, a white explorer called Henry Rowe Schoolcraft wrote the first written descriptions of the region. By the end of the nineteenth century, a settler called Reuben S. Branson had built a post office and a general store. The town of Branson started growing.

Soon after Branson was incorporated people began to visit the region for leisure. In 1894, public tours of Marvel Cave started. Marvel Cave was first discovered by white explorers in the 1830s. The cave is still open to the public, although it is part of the Silver Dollar City entertainment complex now.

Although the region was still relatively sparsely populated into the early twentieth century, it had gained a good reputation for fishing. Large numbers of anglers started coming to Lake Taneycomo once it was built in 1913.

Building the Dam

By the 1940s the population in the region had grown. With more people living close to the White River, flood damage had become a serious concern.

Following a record-level flood in 1943, local residents called for the Federal Government to help manage the flooding in the area. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers moved into the region to start construction on a series of dams along the White River. One of those dams was located 8 miles upstream from Branson, MO.

Originally, the Corps planned to build this dam on top of Table Rock. The Corps discovered, though, that natural rock shelf, high above the river, did not suit dam construction. Even after moving the site a mile upstream, the name Table Rock stuck.

Construction on the dam started in October 1954. The Corps completed the building work in 1958. In 1959 the dam became operational. By 1960, Table Rock Lake was full. 

The dam is 252 feet tall and 6,423 feet long. 

Besides flood control, the dam also provides hydroelectric power to the national grid. The four generating units can produce 200,000 kilowatts of electricity.

The final element of the dam’s services was the cold water flowing from below the dam. That water services the state-run Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery.

Table Rock Lake Rises Behind the Dam

The lake that rose behind Table Rock Dam covers more than 43,000 acres and has a shoreline of nearly 800 miles. The lake is more than 200 feet deep in some spots.

Resorts and marinas sprung up around the lake, and other leisure activities became popular. Table Rock Lake became a tourist destination. More than 5 million people now visit the area each year. 

Table Rock Lake is a big draw for visitors. From boating and fishing to camping and swimming, the lake has something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the first attractions to pull visitors to the area was Silver Dollar City. This small, historical Ozark “town” began in 1960 near the site of Marvel Cave. It quickly pulled in visitors from all over the country. Silver Dollar City has grown into one of the biggest entertainment draws near Table Rock Lake.

Following the development of Silver Dollar City, the town of Branson began to attract musical talent to the region. Between 1960 and 2000, the music theater business boomed. At the last count, more than 100 music venues surround Table Rock Lake. That list includes the original and famous Presley’s

Since the dam came online in 1959, the Corps of Engineers has kept a close eye on the dam’s spillway capacity. In the 1990s, newer technology indicated that 1000-year floods might raise the lake higher than expected. To avoid a flood sweeping Branson away, the Corps added an extra spillway. The new spillway was completed in 2005. 

Make Your Home on Table Rock Lake

There’s a rich and varied history in the Branson, MO, area. The creation of Table Rock Lake, in the 1950s and 1960s has added to that history. It’s also led to Table Rock Lake being one of the best recreational spots in the Ozarks.

With so much shoreline, the lake has ample, picture-perfect locations for homes. Our community embraces our history of leisure, entertainment, and living the good life. 

Whether you enjoy hiking and biking, fishing and hunting, swimming and boating, or good music and good company, Table Rock Lake has it all. And with that great big, beautiful dam, there’s no chance of fa flood damaging the scenery around us.

At Lake Time Realty we know Table Rock Lake and its history. We have more than twenty-five years of experience. We’ve helped so many people find the right homes on the lake so they can make their own history, too. 

If you want to spend time on the water with your family or settle roots in the Ozarks, get in touch with us. We’ll listen to your needs. Give us a call today to discuss how you can add to the history of Table Rock Lake.