Jan 152014

453Cast aluminum and painted license plate frame, circa 1940s

Lake of the Ozarks filled in 1931 but the Depression and World War II stymied its tourism development. From the late 1940s on, gift shops located along Highway 54 offered hundreds of kinds of objects to verify that you had indeed visited beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.  As the lake itself is all but unphotographable — like all reservoirs in existence, a parking lot for water — the favored icon was Bagnell Dam, which it must be conceded, is quite graphic.

By contrast, Truman Dam has all the charm of a gigantic farm pond, with a little center section of brutal concrete – boxy and utilitarian, impersonal, boring. Interestingly, we haven’t found anything like the number or variety of physical souvenirs of Truman to compare with the almost endless numbers of Bagnell Dam vacation memorabilia.


Every week we post an unpublished image that relates to the Osage River, its ecology, history and development. None of these have been used in Damming the Osage, but they relate to the themes of the book. A brief caption identifies the location and our thoughts on its significance and meaning. Feel free to use these images for personal use if you credit “Collection of Leland and Crystal Payton.”  For commercial use, email us for details and a modest fee for a higher resolution image. We have thousands of historic photographs and brochures as well as our own contemporary photos.

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