Living at Lake of the Ozarks



The Lake of the Ozarks region has all of the essential ingredients necessary to provide a high quality of life for its citizens. One of the most significant attributes for the region is its natural scenic beauty along the 1150 miles of Lake Shoreline. Located in heart of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world and is surrounded by the beautiful Ozark Mountains making it the Midwest's premier lake resort destination, offering world-class boating, golfing, shopping and fishing, and a wide variety of lodging, restaurants, state parks, and other recreational activities to suit any budget and taste.



Lake Regional Hospital is an awarding winning 140-bed level III trauma center with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment supported by the friendly professional medical staff. Top-flight cardiovascular services include open-heart surgery and digital cardiac catheterization. A new cancer treatment center opened in 2004 offering patients the convenience of being tested and treated near their homes. Specialty clinics located throughout the area round out the full range of available services in the community.



Four high schools are conveniently located in the lake area, and the graduating senior classes have ACT scores that are consistently above the state and national averages. Two out of three graduates advance on to college. The area has two technical career centers, a four-year liberal arts college extension campus and a satellite community college. These educational institutions work closely with community businesses to provide needed training for the area's work force. 

Low Cost of Living Lake of the Ozarks is the 11th lowest cost of living index in the United Sates, at 92.7. 3rd lowest in utilities cost 7th lowest in transportation cost 16th lowest in health care cost 18th in housing and food cost.


Bagnell Dam History


Picture of Bagnell Dam

With such an enormous amount of water in the state of Missouri, it wasn't long before people began looking for ways to harness some of that potential energy for human use. The first to study the concept of damming the Osage River was a man named Ralph W. Street of Kansas City, in 1912, several years before the enactment of the Federal Water Power Act of 1920.

In the fall of 1924, Walter Cravens (who had joined Ralph Street and whose role was to establish financing for the project) was issued a preliminary permit. During the same month, November, the Missouri Hydro-Electric Power Company was incorporated in Missouri. Construction began immediately, and many facilities were created in 1924 and the following year, including an enormous mess hall, an administrative building, a large warehouse, and a power house. A road was built from the site of the dam to Bagnell, and the railroad from Bagnell to the dam site was mostly finished. Unfortunately, the project encountered problems with funding in 1926 and construction was halted temporarily.

Ralph Street proved to be a most determined man - in 1927 he acquired an Option Contract with Stone and Webster, Inc, out of Boston, one of the largest engineering firms in the entire United States. Stone and Webster, Inc. redesigned the project according to the specifications laid out by the Union Electric Light and Power Company of St. Louis. The largest power contract to that date was negotiated, involving the sale of more than 150 million kilowatt hours to the St. Joseph Lead Company in the southeastern portion of Missouri.

An application was filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission, for approval of the sale of properties owned by the Missouri Hydro-Electric Power Company to Union Electric. The hearing was lengthy and well-discussed but ultimately the sale was approved in late July of 1929. The announcement was greeted with happiness in most of the surrounding counties, although the residents of Linn Creek were less than pleased since the entire town would need to be razed due to its location. But, as Spock noted, the needs of the good outweigh the needs of the few, and the residents of Linn Creek were unable to stop the continuing evolution of the Bagnell Dam project.

Even with so much work toward the project completed, skeptics abounded, saying that the project simply seemed flat-out impossible. The sheer scale of the dam itself was, after all, huge even by today's standards. Nevertheless, the local residents observed, gripped by excitement, as Union Electric began its initial clearing on August 6, 1929.

Many thousands came seeking employment during this time, but the country was still in the grips of the Great Depression and, while Bagnell Dam did provide more than 20,500 people with jobs, it was still necessary to turn many away. Work, generally 9 to 12 hours per day for each person, went on around the clock. The pay scale in those days seems puny compared to that of today: from 35 cents per hour to a little over a dollar per hour. With jobs so scarce, the workers were glad to have this pay scale, or any job at all for that matter.

The project experienced its share of tragedies as well. Two young children were burned to death when their tent, soaked in oil to prevent rain from leaking in, caught fire. Their parents were also badly burned, but survived. Numerous job-related injuries also occurred, normal with a task of this scale.

With so many workers with families, another problem soon surfaced: providing education to all the children of the workers, and there were thousands of them. The local communities simply weren't able to satisfy the educational needs of such a population. Nevertheless, the communities opened their doors, but the conditions weren't good, with sometimes 35 to 40 students per class. The state offered some minimal funding to offset this problem, but mainly it was simply a matter of the local communities enduring this hardship until the dam was completed.

Bagnell Dam was completed in 1931. Electric service began on Christmas Eve of that year. In the end, the creation of Bagnell Dam touched tens of thousands of lives in ways occasionally bad but mostly good. Its touch hasn't decreased either: every year hundreds of thousands visit the lake area for recreation or to tour the Dam. The ultimate legacy of Bagnell Dam is not the water it holds back, but the current beauty of the area, due mostly to the creation of the dam.


Lake of the Ozarks Fast Facts!


Did you know?

  • Sales Tax Receipts increased from 2002 to 2006 by 27%
  • Residential building permits increased from 2003 to 2006 by 26%
  • Commercial building permits increased from 2003 to 2006 by 16%
  • An estimated 4.5 to 5 million tourists visit the lake annually
  • An estimated $203 million is brought in annually from tourism expenditures
  • Nearly 7 million people reside within 150 miles of Lake of the Ozarks
  • Lake of the Ozarks is home to 16 golf courses, 30+ marinas, 40+ waterfront restaurants and 100 churches
  • The Factory Outlet Mall is now home to 110 stores
  • The Lake is 93 miles long with 1,150 miles of shoreline, encompassing 54,000 acres
  • The Lake has more shoreline than the state of California
  • The apartment vacancy rates are less than 5%
  • Lake of the Ozarks is home to the award winning Lake Regional Health System with 140 beds and a Level III Trauma Center