The Osage River creates the Lake of the Ozarks in the northern part of the Ozarks, which lies in central Missouri. The extents of the three tributaries of the Osage, the Grandglaize Creek, Niangua River, and the Gravois Creek also form part of the impoundment. The surface area of the Lake of the Ozarks is 220 square km, and it has 1,850 kilometers of shoreline. The total drainage area of the lake is over 36,000 square km. One of the largest lake in the United States, the Lake of the Ozarks is popular for many recreational activities, and serves as a well-known tourist spot. Many limestone caverns are located near the lake area, and there are various State Parks too. There are several settlements located near the lake out of which the largest is the Osage Beach, and another is Camdenton, which is near the US Route 54. The smaller communities established near the Lake of the Ozarks are Lakeside, Kaiser, Rocky Mount, Village of Four Seasons, Hurricane Deck, Laurie, Sunrise Beach, Lakeview Heights and Gravois Mills.
4. Historical Role
The developer, Ralph Street from Kansas City, pursued a hydroelectric water plant on Osage River in the year 1912. The street funding helped in building the roads, infrastructure, and railroads that were required to build the dam. With the dried funds in the mid-1920s, the construction of the dam came to a halt. The establishment of the 775 meters long Bagnell Dam led to the construction of the lake by the Union Electric Company situated in St. Louis, Missouri. Its building started in August 1929 and was completed in April 1931. The utility company refers the electric generation station as the Osage Hydroelectric Plant. With the passage of time, the building of the hydroelectric power station made it popular as the famous tourist destination in the United States. The Harry S. Truman Dam and the reservoir became operational in the year 1979.
3. Modern Significance
The Lake of the Ozarks is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the US where 70,000 homes exist along the lake, and nearly 5 million people visit the lake annually. Tourists visit the premier lake resort destination and enjoy golf, shopping, boating, state parks, lodging, restaurants, and many other recreational activities. Some of the activities and places that the tourists can wander about and enjoy are:
- Ha Ha Tonka State Park: The park spreads across 3,600 acres of land. It possesses 12 hiking trails, picnic areas, playground, eight caves not open to the public and the castle ruins.
- Lake of the Ozarks State Park: It has the largest State Park in the Missouri, which spreads over 17,441 acres where you can find two public beaches, campsites, boat launches, horseback riding, hiking trails, etc.
- Cruising and canoeing in the Lake: The tourists enjoy taking cruise and canoe rides in the blue waters. They spend time enjoying motor yacht rides, the climate of the lake, tropical drinks, and the Margaretville.
- Bagnell Dam Historical Museum and Overlook: Union Electric Company completed the historical building in the year 1930. It served as an administrative and entertainment center for the Bagnell Dam construction project that created the well-known Lake of the Ozarks. The building now serves as the museum, offices of the Lake Area Chambers of Commerce and the cultural activities center.
- Camdenton Disc Golf Course: - The construction finished in the year 2012, and its course is located at the city park.
2. Habitat and Biodiversity
The wildlife of the lake includes many rare species and animals moving in and around the area. They include various species of amphibians and reptiles like timber rattlesnake, box turtles, and garter snake. This lake is also a famous site for sports fishing and fishes found in the waters include trout, walleye, and the small-mouth bass. Threatened species like the Ozark cavefish, Ozark hellbender, etc., are also found. The other animals found in the vicinity of the Lake of the Ozarks are fox squirrels, gray squirrels, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, wild turkey (considered as a game bird), bald eagle, great-horned owl, white-footed mouse, otter, mink, beaver, quail, etc. The other larger beasts found in the area are the black bear, mountain lion, wolves, plains bison, moose, caribou, and elk, etc.
1. Environmental Threats and Conservation
Several reports in the past years have shown that approximately 15,000 gallons of untreated sewage direct towards the Lake. The summer season welcomes the tourists, and they enjoy themselves while boating, fishing, swimming, etc. All kinds of wastes contaminate The Lake of the Ozarks area, and the local community has to deal with it. The maintenance of the water quality is a major concern for the government departments situated here, and they are working towards keeping the Lake of the Ozarks safe and clean. The government department issues guidelines for the local people as well as the tourists to involve themselves in the community work to keep the lake neat and clean of all the waste products. The lake is safe for swimming and other activities, but one needs to avoid drinking water and clean hands before intake of food.