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Welcome to BeautifulOzarks.com, Internet home of Lens & Pen Press, independent publishing firm focused on the human and natural history of the Ozarks and Midwest region. Through finely printed art books, photographs and the moving image we document, explain and illustrate one of America’s least known but most surprising and distinct geographic and cultural regions. Read the Springfield News-Leader review here and Steve Wiegenstein’s review here and Henry Styron’s review here.

NOW AVAILABLE – BUY HERE

JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE:
Transformation of an Ozark River

Leland & Crystal Payton

352 pages, all color

JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: TRANSFORMATION OF AN OZARK RIVER
Leland & Crystal Payton
ISBN: 978-0-9673925-6-1 Lens & Pen Press
352 pages 7.5 x 10 over 450 photographs and graphics $35.00

Damming Ozark rivers has stopped (at least for now), but are we still changing them? A new 352-page all-color book looks at the effect of development on a famous float stream and our efforts to protect riverine resources. Once the James River was the premier float-fishing stream of the Ozarks. From Galena, Missouri, sportsmen and sportswomen embarked on guided floats down the James and the White Rivers to Branson. Gravel bars they camped on are now 150 feet under the waters of Table Rock Lake. Though truncated and transformed by development, Leland and Crystal Payton found the James worthy of a book with more than 450 contemporary and vintage photographs.

The Paytons spent five years driving gravelly back roads and two-lane blacktops searching out and photographing the crumbling foundations of old water mills, springs, caves, and antique bridges. They floated the James and explored its tributaries. Research revealed a forgotten history of failed attempts to protect Ozark waterways, which culminated in the growth of volunteer organizations and governmental agencies with river conservation agendas. The impact of federal legislation like NEPA and the Clean Water Act are covered as well as changing patterns of river recreation. Many of the problems and solutions identified in this book are applicable to other Ozark rivers.

Railroads, highways, dam projects, tourism, the growth of towns, agriculture, industry, media and art, political will and cultural values all interact. The river we see today is an outcome of all these forces. Even though transformed and changing, the watershed of the James Fork of the White is still in many places scenic and beautiful; where it lacks aesthetics, it is intriguing. After years of research, a mystery remains. The Paytons never found an explanation that holds water why this river is called the James.

Special from Publisher

James Fork of the White and Damming the Osage $52.50, a $17.50 saving, postage paid.  Click here to purchase.

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Please visit Damming the Osage to see our most recent updates!

Our newest books, Missouri Squarely Seen and Ozark-Prairie Border are now available.

Missouri-Squarely-Seen-PDF-coverBuy Missouri Squarely Seen now

Leland Payton has lived in Missouri all his life and his photographs show Missouri as a lived-in place. Old buildings, old men, and faded pieced quilts airing in the backyard he believes are as worthy of representation as Ozark creeks in the spring or native prairies at dawn. All the photographs were taken with a square format camera.

 

Ozark-Prairie-Border-PDF-coverBuy Ozark Prairie Border now

Leland Payton admits the region where the Osage Plains and the Ozark uplift merge is topographically subtle. Still, he found eye-catching relic native prairies and a striking if melancholy architectural record of its American occupation. Driving the lonely farm-to-market roads he concluded “dawn is kind to bland scenery and old farmhouses.”

 

 

dto-cover-v2DAMMING THE OSAGE AWARDED SILVER MEDAL IN NATIONAL COMPETITION
NOW AVAILABLE: DAMMING THE OSAGE: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir

A 304 page all color book about paddlefish, prairies, farms & villages, dams & reservoirs, imperial Indians, explorers, slickers, sportsmen, tourists & various violent, litigious & noteworthy events in the history of the Osage River Valley

Only fragments remain of the native prairies of the upper Osage watershed. It’s been two centuries since the warrior culture for which the river is named and who maintained the buffalo grasslands by fire, was pushed west by displaced Eastern tribes and land-hungry Americans. Two massive dams have turned the main stem of the river into huge reservoirs. Leland and Crystal Payton find the tale of these transformations compelling but turbulent.

Click here to buy our books now