The Lake of the Ozarks


The Lake of the Ozarks

It’s been quite a while since I last posted a blog and I sincerely apologize to our loyal followers. To tell the truth we have been having more fun than we deserve. We are presently located at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. If you’ve never been here, you are truly missing one of our maker’s truly spectacular works of nature. The surrounding area is very beautiful and loaded with places to explore. There is everything from caves to art galleries if that’s your thing.

Missouri's most popular lake destination features more than 1,100 miles of shoreline – that's more shoreline than the coast of California. The Lake of the Ozarks offers access to public beaches; great fishing; and plenty of room for fun and recreation on the water. Cities around the Lake of the Ozarks offer hundreds of dining and lodging options. Abundant recreation activities include, among other things: golf, horseback riding, boat excursions, wineries, airplane and helicopter tours, zip lines, spas, and shopping. Marinas and rental services offer a variety of choices, ranging from a pontoon boat to fishing boats, ski boats to houseboats, and personal watercraft.

One of the interesting sites is the historic Bagnell Dam. The Dam was built in the early ’30s. Bagnell Dam was designed by Stone & Webster Engineering Company of Boston, Massachusetts. The owner of the dam is AmerenUE of St. Louis, Missouri. (At the time of construction, AmerenUE was known as Union Electric Light & Power Company.) Construction began on August 6, 1929, and was completed in April 1931. The Lake of the Ozarks began to fill on February 2, 1931 and would fill at an average rate of one-and-a-half feet per day. The water reached spillway elevation on May 20, 1931--seventy-eight days after the dam sluiceways were closed. However, the lake water would not reach the full reservoir for the first time until the spring of 1932. The total cost of the project was $30 million.


The concept of an Osage River dam dates to 1912. After acquiring the necessary capital, Kansas City entrepreneur Ralph Street built support structures, roadways, and railroad tracks in the vicinity of the dam site, but financial difficulties brought his venture to a close in 1926. Street's original plan called for a sixty-foot high hydroelectric dam. This would have created a lake of approximately forty miles in length with no major tributaries. (The Gravois, Grand Glaize, and Niangua Arms of the present lake merely would have been short, shallow coves!) One year later Union Electric, together with Stone & Webster, revitalized the project and expanded it to its present-day parameters.

The specific site for the dam was chosen for a variety of reasons. Amongst the major considerations was the presence of a projecting point on the south side of the floodplain directly opposite a steeply sloping ridge on the north side. The combination restricted the floodplain valley to one-half mile in width, which generally was narrower than the average width of the floodplain. Furthermore, bedrock at his point was relatively close to the surface, being approximately twenty feet below the mean level of the floodplain.

The dam is 2,543 feet long. It consists of three sections. The abutment section (1,512 feet) is a solid wall rising from bedrock to the roadway level. Most of the abutment section is on the south side, though a short section of it supports the curving bridge at the north end of the dam. The base of the abutment section is 93 feet wide.

The spillway section (520 feet) forms the middle portion of the dam. The spillway section consists of five sealed sluiceways at the base of the structure and twelve flood gates at the top. Each of the steel floodgates is 22 feet high by 34 feet wide. They are classified as tainter gates by their design and usage. They weigh 54,000 pounds each. The gates are opened by raising rather than lowering them. The water flows under the gates from a depth of twenty-two feet below the surface, thus avoiding a strong surface current when in use. The gates are raised and lowered by 70-ton traveling gantry cranes. These are the two house-like structures seen above the dam wall. In the event of mechanical failure, high water will overtop the flood gates before reaching the top of the dam. The base of the spillway section (131 feet) is wider than the rest of the dam. The additional width, of stair-step construction, is located below the level of the Osage River and serves as a dissipater for water coming down the spillway.

The headworks, or powerhouse, section (511 feet) sits over the original bed of the Osage River. It consists of eight water-wheel turbines directly connected to eight electrical generators, plus one smaller station service unit. (Originally only six of the generators were installed. The other two were added in 1953.) The face of the headworks presents nine large openings into the lake. When the turbines are not in use, each of the openings is sealed by a steel headgate, measuring twenty-seven feet square and weighing 70 tons. Under a maximum head of ninety feet, the turbines revolve at 112-1/2 r. p. m. with a force equal to 33,500 horsepower each. The generators were designed to produce a maximum of 21,500 kilowatts each.

At the dam are a number of establishments referred to as the “Dam Strip”. There are bars, restaurants, ice cream parlors, clothing stores, and attractions for young and old as well. There are a number of regularly scheduled events that are of interest to a great many. Every third Thursday there is “Bike Night” where you can find every type of motorcycle imaginable. They line the center lane of the street from one end of the strip to the other.

On August 29th and 30th, 2020 you can enjoy the “Shootout”. The Lake of The Ozarks Shootout, held at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill will bring top powerboat racers and offshore racing powerboats from across the country, topping 200 MPH. This is the largest unsanctioned boat race in the Midwest with over 100 racers and 100,000 spectators. Proceeds will benefit the Lake Area Rescue Teams and other charitable organizations! I’ll be enjoying it for sure!

September 16 thru the 20th, 2020 you will experience “Bike Fest”. Events include spectacular scenic rides, more than 200 biker friendly bars, and restaurants, great parties, vendors, and rockin’ concerts at night.

There are a whole host of events, activities, and things to do throughout the summer and early fall. There are too many to list here, and truly more than I can participate in. It just more fun than I can handle.

While visiting the area you will find many different accommodations from motels, lodges, Bed, and Breakfasts, and campgrounds. Campgrounds are our preference and there are a number of campgrounds in the area. One of our favorites is Cross Creek, RV Park. A computer search will quickly reveal a list of good campgrounds at which to call home while here.

Thanks for visiting the Outdoor Family Store and as always, “Facetime with Nature”. Get out and enjoy God's creations! And while doing so remember to get all your outdoor gear at the Outdoor Family Store.

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