Sep 292020

Photo courtesy of Osage Fire Protection District. They’re not only intrepid first responders but excellent photographers. Great picture!

News stories Sept 27 told of three people rescued by the Osage Fire Protection District when their pontoon boat got stuck in the fast current of Lock. Jefferson City firefighters “built a rope rescue system, lowered a rescuer to the boat, and brought the occupants up one at a time.” No one was injured but the KJLU online post by Lesley Taylor noted that in 2009 a man on a jet ski drowned trying to go through the ruined lock.

Other concrete blockages of the Osage River—Bagnell Dam, Truman Dam—have unsavory histories and underperform, but they do serve some contemporary needs like recreation. The ruined 1906 lock and dam on the lower reaches serves no purpose—and never did. It’s a menace to navigation, blocks migratory fish, and every few years kills someone.

In 2012 a long summer drought dropped the river level, exposing the crumbling concrete shell, rusting rebar, and rotten timbers that lurk below the surface and twist the currents of the Osage. We climbed down into the riverbed, walking over and along its ruins. Taking pictures and looking at “the decay of that colossal wreck,” we pondered at the folly of it still being there. We have an extensive post with pictures on the lock, its history and many problems.

We extensively covered it in Damming the Osage: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir. The $35, 304-page, all color book, incidentally, we are currently offering for half price, $17.50 postage paid. To purchase, click here.