Feb 272013

HaHaTonka Lake

2 Real Photo postcards by Strathman Photo

Both postcards have been sent, postmarked Linn Creek, but the dates are obscure – probably 1930s.

The exact origin of the low dam that created Ha Ha Tonka Lake is not clear. It’s possible that Colonel R. G. Scott, railroad promoter and real estate hustler, built it.  He came from Iowa about 1890 and  with a friend bought or optioned what was then known as Gunter Spring with a large parcel of land. In 1904, Scott sold the land and spring – now fancifully renamed Ha Ha Tonka with a suitable Indian legend to fit the name – to businessman Robert McClure Snyder of Kansas City.

HaHaTonka Lake Dam

The destruction of this little lake by the construction of Bagnell Dam caused a five year series of lawsuits and appeals. We devoted a significant part of the book (pages 92-97) to the lawsuit and subsequent appeals.

The lawsuit pitted well-to-do people with big egos against a well-to-do corporation with an equally big ego.  The first round began in 1930 when UE filed an exception to the award of $902/acre to the Snyder family for the acreage included with the trout lake. The Snyders sued and the lines were drawn.  The plaintiffs claimed the new lake had degraded their estate more than a million dollars.  High dollar lawyers and a high profile tale brought journalists to cover the lawsuit over ‘scenic beauty versus progress’. Witnesses during the ten-week trial included Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore, and W. H. Wurepel, who painted the mural of Ha Ha Tonka in the Missouri State Capitol. In 1932, the jury awarded the Snyder family $350,000.

Naturally UE appealed. Round Two began in 1935. A new verdict awarding $200,000 to the Snyders caused them to appeal, but Judge Otis denied the motion for a third trial in 1936 allowing the $200,000 judgment to stand.

Today the lake laps up against the old mill dam, but the trout dam is under water.

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Feb 202013

Steamboats ran up the Osage as far as Osceola when the river was high. Tuscumbia, county seat of Miller County, was a regular stop – a fact commemorated today in this plaque on the new county courthouse.

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Feb 062013


Real photo postcard

Atop a small hill is a large frame house with an encircling porch (“veranda” they might have called it). In Kansas City or St. Louis, this would probably not have been considered a mansion, but in the more modest circumstances of Linn Creek, it was noteworthy and probably belonged to a doctor or banker or merchant. Linn Creek was the county seat of Camden County, a fairly stable community that was completely submerged by Lake of the Ozarks. The county seat was relocated to a newly created town called Camdenton. New Linn Creek is located farther up the creek and is today a smaller community.

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Jan 302013

Spring at Jerico

Real photo postcard by Suttle

This is an earlier version of the spring and basin (such as it is). Even in the early days, it didn’t pour forth a volume of water. Originally there was a sandstone or limestone rock wall, later surfaced by concrete, and a wooden bandstand between the spring and Main Street.  Today the wooden bandstand is gone. A stone bandstand, circa 1930, is now located on the other side of the spring.

Written on the back – “Dear grand son: Albert will send you a card of Jerico park.”

(Below) A recent photo of the spring site and park at Jerico Springs.


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Jan 232013

Foster Railroad Station

Cabinet card of Foster, Missouri, circa 1910

The watershed of the upper Osage/Marais des Cygnes, Little Osage and Marmaton rivers is more crisscrossed by railroads than that of the main Osage and contains a number of much-diminished towns like Foster.  Today, there is still a bandstand (but the band didn’t play on) and a post office (and with pending budget cuts this may soon vanish).

We spent a brief Sunday morning in Foster (Bates County) not long ago – capturing the photogenic, gradual decay and making friends with a black dog. (dog chasing shadow video) Even smart dogs never quite figure out shadows and reflections.

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Jan 092013

Real photo postcard, 1935-1945

Inscription on back reads – “We enjoyed a fine meal here today with Toots and Jack.”

Toots and Jack Stotler operated this thriving business from 1933 until selling to Buford and Anna May Foster in 1945. The Fosters changed the name to Night Hawk Café. A stunning large neon sign with a flying night hawk whose neon wings flapped hung over the sidewalk.  The parents of Leland Payton, senior author of Damming the Osage, went on dates to the Night Hawk, driving in from Versailles. Highway engineer Louis Payton rented a room in Versailles and met Ann Lewis Daniels at the Baptist Church.

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Dec 192012

8 x 10 press photo from Chicago.  4/21/41

The cutline reads: “BAGNELL, MO. – This bantam rooster, caught in the flood that has inundated several Ozark towns, found himself floating on a log down the Main Street of Bagnell, Mo., a new experience worth crowing about.”

Note that this flood happened ten years after Bagnell Dam closed off the Osage River creating Lake of the Ozarks. Note as well that the town of Bagnell is below the dam in what should have been a protected area. If the promised storage reserves are adequate, dams can help prevent downstream flooding. However, if the reservoirs are full and major rainfall or snowmelt occurs upstream (as happened on the  Missouri and Mississippi rivers in 2011), dams can create higher and longer flood crests

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Nov 212012

 Real photo postcard. Penciled on back: “Fairfield Mill in July 1910”

There was a mill and a small manufacturing complex at the hamlet of Fairfield, Missouri on the Pomme de Terre River built, it is said, by Judge George Alexander. He – or rather, his numerous slaves – built a long covered bridge at this spot. Before the Kaysinger Bluff Dam and Reservoir project got underway, the bridge had fallen in, but the stone piers remained. They’re now under the murky waters of Truman Reservoir.

When crossing Truman Reservoir on the Highway 83 bridge, south of Warsaw, look northwest. The town of Fairfield was just up the river from today’s bridge.  .

The history of bridging the Osage River and its tributaries is covered in the new book, DAMMING THE OSAGE by Leland and Crystal Payton, available December 1.

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Oct 042012

Phyllis Stewart of the Papinville Historical and Cemetery Association explains the history and significance of Harmony Mission to the crowd.

The Papinville, Missouri, Historical Association held its annual picnic this year on the first day of autumn. This afforded the rare opportunity to tour the site of  Harmony Mission on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes in Bates County.  The first Indian mission in Missouri was established in response to a request  by the Osage Indians to the President that a school be built  and the missionaries and families arrived in 1821. The mission was located next to the “Great Village” of the Osage Indians on the Marais Des Cygnes River. The site is now on private land, but for this day the owner allowed visitors.  A small ‘train’ of horse drawn and motorized wagons drove through the pastures and pecan groves to the site.

Chief Jack Arthur Whitehorn of the Missouriah-Osage tribes spoke at the museum about Osage history in Missouri. Other activities on the grounds of the museum included, live music, cake walks, a pie auction and picnic. The Association reported they are “singing a happy song due to the great success of the 21st Annual Papinville Picnic.”

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