Oct 102017
 

 Photo from Table Rock Bluff, 1940s.  Still no dam.

Soon after the completion of Powersite Dam (1913) creating Lake Taneycomo, Empire District Electric announced that they would build a larger dam more than twenty miles upstream at Table Rock. However, Table Rock Dam was not built at Table Rock, but about two miles farther upstream on the White River. It was not built by Empire District Electric, but by the Army Corps of Engineers, at a site Corps engineers thought would be better from an engineering standpoint.
The federal government ultimately took dam building away from private companies in the late 1930s. World War II and then Korea delayed construction of many projects. Again, local dam advocates became nervous that the feds would repeat the stalling tactics of Empire District Electric. Construction finally kicked off in the early 1950s.
Sep 162017
 
Hollister flood, 1943
 
The major Corps of Engineers dam-building era was a combination of dubious hydrologic theory propelled by the desire to create jobs during the Depression. Because our ancestors had foolishly developed the floodplains, there was much community support for flood control dams.
Springfield lawyer and land speculator William H. Johnson started building a Tudor-style complex by the train station in 1909 to accommodate tourists. As the faux half-timbered buildings were in the floodplain they were periodically immersed when Lake Taneycomo overflowed.
 
Table Rock Dam has kept the historic district, as it is now called, dry. Still some Hollister and Branson properties have suffered flooding, necessitating government buyouts. Believing the dam would afford complete protection, some people built even closer to the river, ignoring the Corps’ warning.
Aug 092017
 
Although there are no big government dams on the James River, Table Rock Dam backs the lower James up almost to Galena. So we covered the genesis of the Table Rock project in our new book, James Fork of the White. There’s no denying that the White River is prone to flooding.  The Army Corps of Engineers originally had no faith that dams were a solution to overflows. That would change and much of the White River has been incorporated into a system of multipurpose dams.
Press photo of Forsythe in the 1927 flood taken from Shadow Rock
Rising in the Boston Mountains and flowing through a narrow valley, the White River would rise quickly and put buildings on low ground underwater. The Corps of Engineers’ solution protected most of Branson and Hollister from flooding but permanently submerged most of the agricultural land along the upper White River. Valuable farmland hundreds of miles downstream was protected from normal rises.
 
As these government dams were premised on flood control (power generation was an option), local advocates like the White River Boosters Association cried out to Congress for relief from floods, supporting the Corps of Engineers’ claims.
 
Felicity to the new patron of dams required a revised chant from the Missouri business community. When Empire District Electric was considering building Table Rock Dam factory creation was the mantra. Local supporters really didn’t care who built the dam, or why. They just wanted a nice lake, a bigger Taneycomo, at no cost to them.
Sample pages from James Fork of the White can be seen on www.beautifulozarks.com. The book will be available by the end of September. Our earlier river book, Damming the Osage, can be at seen www.dammingtheosage.com)