Lake of the Ozarks

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Lake of the Ozarks
Aerial panorama of Lake of the Ozarks MO-JDugger.jpg
Aerial panorama of Lake of the Ozarks
LocationBenton, Camden, Miller, and Morgan Counties in Missouri
Coordinates38°12′09″N 92°37′35″W / 38.20250°N 92.62639°W / 38.20250; -92.62639Coordinates: 38°12′09″N 92°37′35″W / 38.20250°N 92.62639°W / 38.20250; -92.62639
Primary inflowsGrandglaize Creek, Gravois Creek, Niangua River, Osage River
Primary outflowsOsage River
Catchment area14,000 sq mi (36,300 km2)
Basin countriesUnited States
Managing agencyAmeren Missouri
BuiltAugust 6, 1929 (1929-08-06)
First floodedFebruary 2, 1931 (1931-02-02)
Max. length93 miles (150 km)[1]
Surface area54,000 acres (220 km2)[2]
Max. depth130 ft (40 m)[3]
Water volume1,927,000 acre⋅ft (2.377×109 m3)[1]
Residence time2-4 months
Shore length11,150 miles (1,850 km)
Surface elevation659 ft (201 m)
SettlementsCamdenton, Lake Ozark, Laurie, Osage Beach, Sunrise Beach, Village of Four Seasons
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake of the Ozarks is a large reservoir created by impounding the Osage River in the northern part of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Extents of three smaller tributaries to the Osage are included in the impoundment: the Niangua River, Grandglaize Creek, and Gravois Creek. The lake has a surface area of 54,000 acres (220 km2) and 1,150 miles (1,850 km) of shoreline, and the main channel of the Osage Arm stretches 92 miles (148 km) from end to end. The total drainage area is over 14,000 square miles (36,000 km2). The lake's serpentine shape has earned it the nickname "The Magic Dragon", which has in turn inspired the names of local institutions such as The Magic Dragon Street Meet.[5]


1945 aerial of Lake of the Ozarks, the "Missouri Dragon"

A hydro-electric power plant on the Osage River was first pursued by Kansas City developer Ralph Street in 1912. He put together the initial funding and began building roads, railroads, and infrastructure necessary to begin construction of a dam, with a plan to impound a much smaller lake. In the mid-1920s, Street's funding dried up, and he abandoned the effort.[6]

The lake was created by the construction of the 2,543-foot (775 m) long Bagnell Dam by the Union Electric Company of St. Louis, Missouri. The principal engineering firm was Stone and Webster. Construction began August 8, 1929, was completed in April 1931 and reached spillway elevation on May 20, 1931. During construction, the lake was referred to as Osage Reservoir or Lake Osage. The Missouri General Assembly officially named it Lake Benton after Senator Thomas Hart Benton. None of the names stuck, as it was popularly referred to by its location at the northern edge of the Ozarks. The electric generating station, however, is still referred to by the utility company as the "Osage Hydroelectric Plant."[7] While some sources indicate that more than 20 towns, villages and settlements were permanently flooded to create the lake, subsequent research indicates that the actual number was closer to eight, while several other sites had been previously abandoned, were relocated to make way for the lake, or were on high enough ground that the creation of the lake didn't affect them.[8]

At the time of construction, the Lake of the Ozarks was the largest man-made lake in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It was created to provide hydroelectric power for customers of Union Electric, but it quickly became a significant tourist destination for the Midwest. Most of its shoreline is privately owned, unlike many flood-control lakes in the region that were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The relatively stable surface elevation has created ideal conditions for private development within a few feet of the shoreline. There are over 70,000 homes along the lake, many of which are vacation homes. Spectacular scenery characteristic of the Ozarks has also helped to transform the lake into a major resort area, and more than 5 million people visit annually.

In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) renewed the lease for the power plant operated by Ameren Missouri. In the process, FERC determined that numerous homes and structures were encroaching on utility land in violation of federal regulations. According to the Boston Globe, this issue "has triggered panic in the area's lakefront communities and led to a growing battle among regulators, a utility company, land attorneys, and the state's congressional delegation." [9]


The Lake of the Ozarks is located within the Ozark Mountains with the dam (Bagnell Dam) at 38°12′09″N 92°37′35″W / 38.20250°N 92.62639°W / 38.20250; -92.62639 at an elevation of 659 feet (201 m).[4][10] It lies in central Missouri on the Salem Plateau of the Ozarks.[11] The lake extends across four Missouri counties, from Benton County in the west through Camden County and Morgan County to Miller County in the east.[12]

The reservoir is impounded at its northeastern end by Bagnell Dam, and the Osage River is both its primary inflow and outflow.[12] Long and winding in shape, the lake consists of the main, 93-mile-long (150 km) Osage River channel as well as several arms, each fed by a different tributary.[1][12] The southwestern arm is fed by the Niangua and Little Niangua Rivers,[13] the southeastern arm by Grandglaize Creek,[14] and the northern arm by several streams including Gravois Creek, Indian Creek, and Little Gravois Creek.[15] Many smaller tributaries also drain into the lake, creating numerous small coves and indentations in its shore.[13][14][15] As a result, the lake has approximately 1,150 miles (1,850 km) of shoreline.[2]

U.S. Route 54 runs east-west across the reservoir's southwestern arm and then generally northeast-southwest along its eastern shoreline, crossing the southeastern arm at Osage Beach. Missouri Route 5 runs generally north-south along the lake's western shoreline, crossing the main channel at Hurricane Deck. Missouri Route 7 runs generally northwest-southeast to the lake's southwest, crossing the southwestern arm. Missouri Route 134 runs southeast from U.S. 54 north of Osage Beach to its southern terminus in Lake of the Ozarks State Park. In addition, a network of lettered, supplemental state routes provides access to various points along the lake shore.[12]

Numerous settlements are located near or on the Lake of the Ozarks. The largest is Osage Beach which sits where the lake's southeastern arm joins the main channel. The second largest is the city of Camdenton, located on U.S. 54 a few miles east of the southwestern arm. Lake Ozark lies immediately north of Osage Beach and just south of Bagnell Dam. Other, smaller communities along or near the lake include (from east to west): Kaiser, Lakeside, Linn Creek, Village of Four Seasons, Rocky Mount, Sunrise Beach, Hurricane Deck, Gravois Mills, Laurie, and Lakeview Heights.[12]


The Lake of the Ozarks has a storage capacity of approximately 1,927,000 acre feet (2.377×109 m3).[1] When filled to that volume, it has a surface elevation of 660 feet (200 m) and occupies a surface area of approximately 54,000 acres (220 km2).[2][16] The lake rarely varies in surface elevation by more than 5 feet (1.5 m).[16] As it was constructed for power generation, not flood control, the lake has only limited flood control capacity.[1]

Due to its large volume and surface area, various sources identify the Lake of the Ozarks as either the largest reservoir in Missouri or the second-largest after Truman Reservoir.[17][18][19]


Bagnell Dam

In November 2018 the Lake Ozark Fire District acquired a $500,000 fireboat.[20]


Here is a list of historic bridges that were on the lake.


Bagnell Dam is operated and maintained by Ameren Missouri, the successor of Union Electric, under the authority of a permit issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Ameren Missouri is also responsible for managing both the shoreline and water levels of the lake. All land surrounding the lake that is within the project boundary defined by the FERC is under the company's jurisdiction. Any improvements to the shoreline including docks, seawalls, and other structures require permission from Ameren Missouri prior to construction.[21]

Tourism and recreation[edit]

Anderson Hollow Cove, informally known as Party Cove, in 2007.


During the process of land acquisition for the lake during the 1920s, 17,500 acres (71 km2) of land were set aside for a national park along the Grand Glaize Arm of the lake. In 1946, this land was acquired by the State of Missouri for Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the largest State Park in Missouri. Lake of the Ozarks State Park is home to Party Cove, a rowdy gathering spot that a New York Times writer called the "oldest established permanent floating bacchanal in the country."[22] The Missouri State Water Patrol has estimated that the cove attracts up to 3,000 boats during the Fourth of July weekend.[22]

Another state park on the shores of the lake is Ha Ha Tonka State Park on the Niangua Arm of the lake.



Frequency Callsign Nickname Format Owner City of License Web site
89.3FM KIRL 89.3 Big KIRL Oldies Full Smile, Inc. Osage Beach, MO
90.3FM KCRL Religion Bott Radio Sunrise Beach, MO [23]
91.7FM KCVO-FM Spirit FM Christian Contemporary Lake Area Educational Broadcasting Foundation Camdenton, MO [24]
92.7FM KLOZ Mix 92.7 Hot AC Benne Broadcasting Company, LLC Eldon, MO [25]
93.5FM KMYK 93.5 Rocks the Lake Classic Rock Viper Communications, Inc. Osage Beach, MO [26]
95.1FM KTKS KS95 Country Benne Broadcasting Company, LLC Versailles, MO [27]
97.1FM KAYQ The Lake Classic Country Valkyrie Broadcasting, Inc. Warsaw, MO [28]
97.5FM/103.3FM/1150AM KRMS NewsTalk KRMS Talk Viper Communications, Inc Osage Beach, MO [29]
98.7FM K254BE 98.7 The Cove Adult Contemporary Viper Communications, Inc. Osage Beach, MO [30]
100.9FM KCKP The Pulse Channel Christian Rock Lake Area Educational Broadcasting Foundation Laurie, MO [31]
101.9FM KZWV 101.9 The Wave Adult Contemporary Zimmer Radio of Mid-Missouri, Inc. Eldon, MO [32]
102.7FM KQUL Classic Hits Cool 102.7 Classic Hits Benne Broadcasting Company, LLC Lake Ozark, MO [33]
104.9FM K285ER Classic Country 104.9 Classic Country Viper Communications, Inc. Osage Beach, MO [34]
107.9FM KCLQ 107.9 The Coyote Country Go Productions, LLC Lebanon, MO [35]


Display Channel Network Callsign Owner City of License Web site
49.1 FOX KRBK Koplar Communications Osage Beach, Missouri [36]
49.2 Me-TV
49.4 Movies!
13.1 CBS KRCG Sinclair Broadcast Group Jefferson City, Missouri


  1. ^ a b c d e "Hydrology". Missouri Department of Conservation. Archived from the original on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2015-12-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d Great Osage River Project from the website of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau
  3. ^ a b "Midwest Diving Locations". Columbus Sea Nags Scuba Diving Club. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  4. ^ a b "Lake of the Ozarks". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  5. ^ "Magic Dragon Street Meet Lake of the Ozarks : Car Show Lake of the Ozarks MO". Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-07-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Lake of the Ozarks - Lake Ozark, MO". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Lake of the Ozarks Name".
  8. ^ Gillespie, Michael (2008). "The Myth of the Sunken Townsites". Lone Jack, MO: The Lake Area History Pages!. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  9. ^ Chris Blank (2011), Mo. residents upset by order to move lake homes, retrieved 2011-11-07
  10. ^ Lake Ozark, MO, 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangle, USGS, 1959 (1981 rev.)
  11. ^ "Physiographic Regions of Missouri [Map]" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2002. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Missouri Highway Map" (PDF). Missouri Department of Transportation. 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  13. ^ a b "General Highway Map - Camden County" (PDF). Missouri Department of Transportation. June 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  14. ^ a b "General Highway Map - Miller County" (PDF). Missouri Department of Transportation. October 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  15. ^ a b "General Highway Map - Morgan County" (PDF). Missouri Department of Transportation. December 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  16. ^ a b "Lake Ozark Guide Curve - 2015". Ameren Missouri. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  17. ^ Foley, William E.; McCandless, Perry (2001). Missouri Then and Now. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. p. 37.
  18. ^ Keefer, Greg (2011-08-31). "10 Great Missouri Bass Lakes". Game & Fish. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  19. ^ "Lakes in Missouri, United States". Lakes Online. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  20. ^ "Lake Ozark FPD Launches New Fire Boat". KRMS Radio. 2018-11-27. Archived from the original on 2018-11-28. The new boat cost roughly $500,000. The older boat will remain on the water, too. It will be sold to Mid-County Fire Protection District. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Invalid |deadurl=No (help)
  21. ^ "Shoreline Management". Ameren Missouri. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  22. ^ a b Party Cove: Wild in the Ozarks, a July 2005 article from The New York Times
  23. ^ LLC, Voltage Creative,. "Bott Radio Network - Getting the Word of God into the People of God". Bott Radio Network.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  24. ^ "- Spirit FM".
  25. ^ "Today's Best Hits Lake of the Ozarks: Hot AC Radio : Mix 92.7".
  26. ^ "93.5 Rock the Lake - Lake of the Ozarks - Radio Station".
  27. ^ "Country Radio Lake of the Ozarks : KTKS : KS95.1".
  28. ^ "97.1 The Lake".
  29. ^
  30. ^ "98.7 The Cove".
  31. ^ "- Spirit FM".
  32. ^ "Home - 101.9 FM - The Wave!". 101.9 FM - The Wave!.
  33. ^ "COOL 102.7 - Lake of the Ozarks Radio".
  34. ^ "Classic Country 104.9".
  35. ^ "Country Radio Lake of the Ozarks : Radio Station Lake of the Ozarks : 107.9 The Coyote".
  36. ^ "Home".

External links[edit]