May 012013

James Reed

Press Photograph

We began our chapter on Lake of the Ozarks with a discussion of a now-forgotten lawsuit against Union Electric over the destruction of the trout pool at Ha Ha Tonka. This was a huge case that filled the newspapers and went on for years, and is now virtually forgotten.

Legendary Missouri politician and attorney for the Snyder family in this lawsuit was James A. Reed, a distinguished former U.S. Senator. In what Time magazine characterized in 1927 as a forest of competing “presidential timber”, they described him as Missouri’s “tough-fibred, silver-topped sycamore, U. S. Senator James A. Reed”  Read more:,9171,736900,00.html#ixzz2QTHc0uU8

One of the few politicians who got on H. L. Mencken’s good side, when Reed retired from the Senate, Mencken saluted him: 

His skill is founded upon a profound and penetrating intelligence, and informed by what amounts to a great aesthetic passion. There are subtleties in the art he practices, as in any other, and he is the master of all of them. The stone ax is not his weapon, but the rapier; and he knows how to make it go through stone and steel.

The “Fighting Senator from Missouri” was also paramour (and later husband) to Nellie Don, a Kansas City legend in her own right as founder of one of the largest dress manufacturing companies of the first half of the 20h century.

It is perhaps an understatement to say that our research led us to a cast of very interesting people whose lives touched the Osage River.

Every week we post an unpublished image that relates to the Osage River, its ecology, history and development.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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