The village of Bagnell, Missouri, was a little railhead along the river used mostly for unloading railroad ties that had been rafted down the Osage. There were plans for the railroad to cross the river at Bagnell, but they didn’t materialize. When construction of the Osage River dam began in the mid 1920s, a spur line was built to transport materials to the construction site, in addition to the barges and steamboats that hauled materials
The few years of heavy construction were a boom time for Bagnell. When incorporated in 1926, the town had a bank, a post office, telephone system, stores, a café, gas stations and even a movie theater. But when the dam closed, work and workers disappeared. The highway was routed over the dam, killing the ferry operation across the Osage. Three fires in 1931 nearly spelled doom for the town. Then a huge flood in 1934 destroyed many of the rebuilt businesses. (see “Bagnell in Flood” post on this blog – http://www.dammingtheosage.com/osage-river-in-flood-at-the-town-of-bagnell/).
Today a campground is the main attraction in old Bagnell.
Every week we post an unpublished image that relates to the Osage River, its ecology, history and development.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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