Apr 262017

We’re consolidating our blogs into one platform on Lens & Pen Press (the parent platform if you will) where we will continue to discuss our books–the Beautiful and Enduring Ozarks, the James Fork of the White (coming 2017), Mystery of the Irish Wilderness and See the Ozarks–and many other favorite topics like the Ozarks and water resources. Please join us there!

Damming the Osage blog archive remains available right here! http://www.dammingtheosage.com/the-blog/

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COMING IN 2017: JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozark River.

Sample pages from this new book can be seen at www.beautifulozarks.com

Our earlier ‘river book,’ DAMMING THE OSAGE, can be seen at www.dammingtheosage.com

Mar 192017

Josh Rouse writes a detailed examination of the status of #paddlefish reproduction and management in #Kansas, #Oklahoma, and #Missouri. The #Marais_des_Cygnes River in Kansas is the upper reaches of the #Osage_River of Missouri (see Damming the Osage for the story of why the name changes at the state line).

Neely offered Grand Lake in Oklahoma as an example of a highly productive system. He said paddlefish grow faster in that body of water than almost anywhere else in the world because of the high availability of food.

“It boggles my mind how a fish can get up to 100 pounds and never eat anything that you can see with a naked eye,” Neely said. “It’s just really neat how they can do it.”

Feb 152017

Jimmy Capps posted on Facebook this lyrical music video account of generations of  his family and their life along the Osage River  since the early 1800s. Acoustic guitar and a haunting harmonica provide a simple but appropriate accompaniment to his original composition. (This is my own transcription from the video. My apologies if there are mistakes!)

Osage River Water

My people came from Tennessee in 1821,
Capps Landing on the Osage is where they made their home.
Great granddad moved to Proctor
When a ferry crossed the stream.
The sons worked the freight boats
burning wood for steam.
Floating ties down the Osage,
Trapping furs and running lines,
Fought the flu and smallpox,
The flood of ‘29

That Osage River water’s flowing in my veins
From the great Wah-Zha-Zhe and everyone between

Granddad lived in a houseboat.
Depression’s scrounged the land.
Moonshine boats, midnight floats, the lawman close at hand
My daddy fished the big lake that stops at Bagnell Dam.
Sold his fish in the town from the trunk of his sedan.
My brothers and I followed suit ‘til we all left the …
Our sons all fish in bass boats and throw away their catch.

That Osage River water’s flowing in our veins
From the mighty Wah-Zha-Zhe and everyone between

Now 30-foot go-fast boats, they scream across the lake
They leave the boats of the country folks a-rockin’ in their wake

That Osage River water’s flowing in my veins
From the mighty Wah-Zha-Zhe and everyone between

Jul 262016


Tower Ha Ha Tonka, Mo. “8 miles of L.C.” (probably Linn Creek)
By G. A. Moulder, Linn Creek, Mo. Unsent.

Stone Water Tower, 80 feet high, at Robert M. Snyder’s castle retreat above the Osage River.  Water was pumped from the spring far below to a tank at the top of the tower. Besides holding the water tank above the house and grounds to facilitate gravity feed to supply the water system of the castle.

This tower once held living quarters as well as a water tank at the top of the tower. Historical marker at the park says, “The first four floors were living quarters for the caretaker’s family. A large steel tank on the fifth floor held water for the estate. It’s (sic) interior burned by vandals in 1976. It was reroofed and stabilized in 1999.”‘

G. A. Moulder seems to have been a prolific professional photographer in Linn Creek in the pre-Bagnell Dam era.  While we have not identified details of his life, he did come from an established and well-respected family in Camden County. In 1896, J. W. Vincent, editor of the Linn Creek Reveille, published a series of articles based on accounts from early settlers primarily in Camden and Morgan counties.  Of the Moulder family he wrote:

The Moulder family, since the most numerous and prominent in the county, first arrived in 1837. Judge G. W. Moulder, the first of these, came to Lincoln county in 1830, and to Camden (then Pulaski) in the year named, buying a farm on the Niangua, eight miles above Linn Creek, where he lived nearly fifty years, and died in 1886.

He was one of a family of twelve children, and was afterwards joined by three brothers, Valentine, Silas and Rufus, and by two sisters, Rebecca Capps and Elizabeth Doyle, the latter of whom is still living, on Prairie Hollow, the only surviving member of her father’s family. Judge Moulder had six sons, William G., John B., A. F., Joseph C., V. P., and T. H. B., all of whom served their country during the late war.

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Jul 212016

sc427Fishing Camp, Arnolds (sic) Mill, Mo. No. 1176

Arnhold’s Mill was a commercial mill site certainly, but also an early fishing camp/resort on the Niangua River in Camden County not far from Ha Ha Tonka’s springs. In 1896, J. W. (Joshua Williams) Vincent, editor of the Linn Creek Reveille, published a history of Camden County  he had compiled by interviewing early settlers. In it he stated: “The Arnhold Mill, probably the most noted in the county, was founded in 1833 by a man named Kieth.” George and Dorotha Arnhold bought  what by then was called Cleman Mill in 1878. Its scenic location, abundant game, good fishing and congenial owners attracted sportsmen from across the state. Eventually, cabins were built on the nearby hills to accommodate visitors who showed up in season. It was a family-friendly resort as evidenced by the women and child in this photo.

The camping families in this photograph are not identified, but on newspapers.com we found several accounts of visits to Arnhold’s Mill. One story in the May 27, 1915, Index of Hermitage, Mo. could be the caption for this photo:

A party consisting of Dr. A. H. Brookshire and wife, W. D. Harryman and wife, J. W. Powell and Henry Emmett of Wheatland, W. C. Farmer of Collins, J. H. Morgan and family, J. K. Moore and family, J. W. Robertson, Chas. Manuel, C. M. Bentley, S. S. Anderson and Ray Creed of Hermitage, left here Monday for Arnholt’s mill, Camden County, where they will spend a week fishing, hunting, camping out, and having a good time generally.

A couple of other stories came to light as well. The Index, Hermitage, Mo, May 6, 1897, remarked on the weekend fishing trip of Squire E. R. Calkins to Arnhold’s mill where he gained some weight. “He claims fish is the greatest brain food a man can eat.” The Morgan County Republican (July 18, 1907) noted that  Perry L. Gold and Joe Gold of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Loyd and Clarence Lumpe and Charles Moser of Versailles, Mo., spent a week at the mill returning with a 31-pound catfish.

See our earlier post for more about the tribute sportsmen erected for the Arnholds. The site of Arnhold’s Mill is now under the waters of Lake of the Ozarks.

Little record remains of early sporting activities on the Osage River, but that doesn’t mean the area wasn’t utilized. These real photo postcards provide scarce evidence of those days. No identification on the card of the photographer or where it was published.


Jul 132016


High Water Linn Creek Mo.
Real Photo Postcard by J. W. Farmer, Linn Creek, Mo. probably around 1920. Unsent.

The Osage could play havoc with your plans. Flooding was a regular event in Linn Creek but it didn’t seem to deter people from living there.  Floods were a dramatic and photogenic affair. Even today, a flood brings out the photographers. An obvious question comes to mind: what piece of dry ground was the photographer standing on? Perhaps he was precariously perched on another boat? It’s a great image of a watery world. Hardly a square foot of terra firma is showing!


We’ve posted a number of flood scenes of Linn Creek on this blog.  Perhaps several were of a single event, but Linn Creek was hit with rising waters more than once. Despite fairly frequent incursions of the Osage into the town’s streets and homes, the editor of the city newspaper,  The Reveille, railed against building Bagnell Dam.  J.W.)Vincent understood full well that occasional spring rises were better for the community than permanent inundation of their homes and the most productive land of the river bottoms.


This photo (of a photo) of Joshua Williams (J.W.) Vincent is from page 104 in Damming the Osage. The caption reads:

Before coming to Missouri in 1866, J. W. Vincent’s father, J. S., had worked for Horace Greeley, fought in the Mexican War, been wounded twice by Indians, dug for gold in California, and married an Irish girl in Milwaukee. An 1889 county history classified the newspaper he founded as a “spicy journal in the interests of the Republican Party.” The son (J. W. ) bought the Reveille from his father in 1880 and edited it until his death in 1933.

Jul 052016


The Ruth in Linn Creek Mo
Real photo postcard. J. W. Farmer. Linn Creek. MO.

LOVE this photograph!  You can sense the excitement of a boat’s arrival in river towns:  “Steamboat’s a-comin’! Steamboat’s a-comin’!”  Everyone in Linn Creek headed to the docks to see The Ruth tied up at the landing. They perch on the fence and fill the decks of the steamer to pose for the camera. Look close – a group of girls is gathered on the deck. Perhaps a school excursion?

The Miller County Historical Society reprinted an article from The Waterways Journal (Feb. 25, 1984) titled, “The Osage Is An Important Missouri River,” by James V. Swift. In it, Mr. Swift recounts the histories of a number of steamboats that plied the Osage. This one, The Ruth, built at Tuscumbia in 1908, was 52.5 by 12.2 by three feet and had 25 hp. Her registered tonnage was 13 gross and 8 net, and she had a crew of two. As can be seen in the picture, The Ruth towed a barge just as her sister steamboats had done. The Ruth is shown (in Historical Society records) as being abandoned in 1925.”

Other steamboats on the Osage during this era were the J. R. Wells (of which we’ve posted several pictures), Frederick, Homer C. Wright. Mr. Swift’s article has a great deal more information on the steamboats on the Osage. To read the full article go the Historical Society’s website: http://www.millercountymuseum.org/archives/120109.html )

Note the roof used as advertising canvas. “Feed Stable” on one. And “You can buy as cheap as a (illegible) at The Linn Creek Mercantile Co. Merchandise.” Roadside (or in this case streamside) roofs and barn sides continued as advertising media for generations.

In Damming the Osage, we covered the Corps of Engineers’ efforts to enhance steamboat traffic on the Osage with the construction of Lock and Dam No. 1. We have a whole separate section concerning Lock and Dam No. 1 on our website: http://www.dammingtheosage.com/lock-and-dam-no-1-on-the-osage-river/

Jun 132016

#AmericanRivers and #Riverkeepers celebrate the removal of a rusty, abandoned dam on Wynants Kill near Albany, NY. Already they see the flash of silver as herring swarm upstream to spawn.

” ‘Every dam should have an existential crisis,’ ” said John Waldman, a biology professor at Queens College, tells The Associated Press.” In Missouri, time for that crisis has come for one of those aging, inoperable and dangerous structures. We have an extensive discussion of the issues surrounding Lock and Dam No. 1, a monstrous relic, more than 100 years old, of Corps of Engineers river mismanagement on our website: (click here) Lock and Dam no. 1 on the Osage River.


This was taken during the 2012 drought. The river is full now and its waters barely cover the tops of the crumbling old concrete, barely held together with rusting iron and rotten wood. More than 100 years old now, Lock and Dam No. 1 serves no useful purpose for navigation or flood control, and it blocks the migration of paddlefish and endangered pallid sturgeon.

Removing Lock and Dam No. 1 would open those 80 miles of Osage River from Bagnell Dam to its junction with the Missouri River to possible spawning of both paddlefish and the endangered pallid sturgeon. Major spawning grounds of the paddlefish were destroyed by construction of Truman Dam. Per Wikipedia, the endangered pallid sturgeon, related to the sturgeon, another ancient fish (Cretaceous period), is endemic to the waters of the Missouri River system and the lower Mississippi. Like the paddlefish, its spawning grounds have been greatly diminished by river channelization and dams.  Both species are now sustained by hatcheries. The gravel bars of that last section of the wide, slow Osage River could provide both species an environment for natural spawning.

May 232016

Recently Rod Cameron, of Raytown, messaged us on Facebook after reading Damming the Osage. Rod lived along the Osage River in the 1970s. He shared with us a poem he had written as he watched Truman Dam being built. It is a poignant and moving meditation, so evocative of the river we knew. Wish we had known about this poem when we were working on the book. We would have asked permission to include it. He has given us permission to publish it here on our blog. We asked Rod too if he would write some of his memories of life in Benton County.  He recalls “County Road KK: the recluse and the river.”

Dam Site (Kaysinger)

From the white summit of the bluff,
I look down on backs of vultures
Sliding along the trees like
Time-lapse movies of cloud shadows,
Working against the green
Of soybean fields and rising hills.

The Osage
Sweeps across the valley floor
Tonguing thoughts
And swallowing sorrow
Thrown its way in glances.
Yet, someone decides:
Stop this river here.

So, lazily it will wallow and get fat,
Roll slowly in the breeze; it will eat old
Boat docks and rub softly the hills,
It will be as great as a padded room.


Rod is a 65-year-old, recently retired, high school English teacher.  A native of Missouri, he grew up in Kansas City but spent a great deal of time on the Osage River near Warsaw, Missouri. He holds degrees in English from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. After teaching for five years in Marshall, Rod moved to Iowa for the remainder of his 37-year career.  Currently, Rod and his wife Sally live in Raytown, Missouri, along with their two rescue dogs, Lucky and Lady.



County Road KK: the recluse and the river

At the end of County Road KK in Benton County, Missouri, the road turns to gravel. Another mile, and there once was a place called Sundown Acres. In the early 1960’s, my parents built a small lake cabin on eight acres next to a house owned by a man named Kraft. My teen years were spent wandering up and down that gravel road, fishing in nearby ponds, and throwing rocks off nearby bluffs into the Osage River. I would hunt squirrels and deer, and our family spent many days on the sandbar that reached out from an island that split the river nearby. Our real home was in Kansas City, but it is the memories of living by the Osage that remain from my youth.

We thought about getting horses to ride during our weekend visits to Sundown. But we needed a place to board them. I went with Dad to the fenced property of a mysterious recluse a mile or so back up the paved portion of KK. I stayed in the car, parked just off the pavement, while dad entered the wire gate and walked through knee-high grass and weeds to a small log structure sitting far back on the property. Because of a rise in the ground, the structure was hidden partly because it sat on a slight downward slope near the back, the part overlooking the river. I could see a wooden split log fence and some kind of ramp I thought may have been for loading cattle. Dad came back to the car and shook his head “no.” That was the end of our horse venture.

But the experience had captured my imagination. Every time we passed by the “hermit’s cabin,” as we had come to call the place, I strained to see if he was visible. He never was. When I was 16 or so, news of “Kaysinger Dam” swept through all the conversations in Warsaw and the surrounding area. My father was excited by the prospect of witnessing such a structure being built, especially since he had worked in construction his entire life. Soon he had other reasons for excitement. Word came that the Corps of Engineers would be buying up land in the basin, which included several hundred feet back from full reservoir. The effect was to take thousands of acres of flat or gradually sloping land and preventing private ownership and development near the lake once it came in. The buy included our eight acres, our fishing ponds, our island and its sandbar. It also included the little log house in which the recluse lived.

As chance would have it, 75 acres came up for sale about the same time. Along the east side, the property was lined for a half a mile by a high rock bluff overlooking the Osage and the farm fields on the other side. It was and is one of the very few places that offers a close view of Truman Lake because the buffer footage is almost straight up rather than gradually sloping back. The line came to the top of the bluff, providing possibly the best of view north, south, east, and west, of the Osage Valley near Warsaw. We moved there in 1968, and my parents lived there until their deaths. Just to the south, on an adjoining property, just a few feet lower in elevation, sits the rock foundation and deteriorating livestock ramp of the recluse. Today Shenandoah Valley subdivision sits on the north end of a bluff, providing spectacular sunrises to all who have built their houses along it. To the south, across a small inlet, sits a silent and empty homestead of a harmless recluse who was forced from his property.

These are before-and-after photos of the Osage River-become-reservoir taken by Rod Cameron in the late 1970s from Cobb’s Bluff:




May 192016


“Linn Creek, Mo. Looking N. W. 1909” written in red ink. Real photo postcard, published by G. A. Moulder, Linn Creek, Mo. Unsent.

Linn Creek, seat of Camden County, here seen nestled in its valley near the Osage, seems to have been an idyllic place, especially in memory. Years later, Nellie Moulder wrote of the town drowned by Bagnell Dam in her journal:

Perhaps more than the ‘scenes’, it is the people one remembers, John McGowan, commercial fisherman of early Linn Creek, giving away more fish than he sold; E.M. Kirkham, who organized parades, programs, and picnics and became the orator when need arose; the banker’s wife, proud, haughty, often arrogant, but ever aware of children in the creek, warning them of inherent dangers; jovial Fred Moulder, who loved children, chipping and sharing slivers of ice to waiting children as he came to the ice house for needed ice in his meat counter display. D.P. Moore who loved his dog; dressed “Frank” in a little boy suit to bury him and deeded “Frank” and an acre of land as his own cemetery with a headstone for identification.

Damming the Osage, page 106

The Moulder  family was prominent in Camden County. Young (26 years old) Morgan Moore Moulder was the county’s prosecuting attorney and sought an injunction from the courts to stop construction of Bagnell Dam in the late 1920s.