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Area Entertainment: Entertaining and fun history night

An entertaining, but interesting evening.  If you have ever questioned, “How did Table Rock Lake get here, or how was the dam built, or who preserves the history of the area?” Well, I have news for you.  I attended the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters talk featuring Tom Koob, author of the book “Buried by Table Rock Lake.”  He discussed how leading up to the dam being built, how the land was.  How it was purchased from the farmers and ranchers of the area.  How it impacted and improved the area but leaving behind some “hard or ill feelings” with the people.  We had the pleasure of looking at fascinating pictures with deep discussion on them.  We even had a great-granddaughter, Angela Wolf of Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey, one of the families of Oasis that had their land purchased for the project in the audience. 


To the best knowledge there were at least three towns or settlements and 51 cemeteries that were carefully and respectfully moved, with a possibility of unknown sites that are underwater.  As with any man-made lake and dam it came with a cost. Some lives were even lost during this project.  We should always remember that the enjoyment of our beautiful Table Rock Lake and Dam was a result of so many hardworking people through their blood, sweat and tears.  The author Tom Koob, who is originally from Kansas City, but has lived in Shell Knob for several years has nothing but respect for this Ozark culture. He stated in his book, “Life in this region before World War II was difficult, but also full of beauty and joy. What Table Rock Lake brought to this area was disliked by some and appreciated by others. Life was improved in many ways, but the way of life followed here for many decades was dramatically altered. As with most progress, it is difficult to see it as completely good or bad – it is just different.”  He has penned three books and created and published a map to go with the books of the area that he loves so much.  You can find these available on Amazon Kindle or contact him on Facebook or at  He has recently collaborated with Curtis Copeland on a new history book, “Ozarks Hillbilly Stereotype and Reality.” 


The lake is a diving enthusiasts’ adventure to what is stored under 63 feet of water and 758 miles of shoreline.   Several docks to launch your fishing boat to go swimming, fishing, diving, eagle watching or just sightseeing on 42,560 acres of water.   Another entertaining aspect is taking a tour at Dewey Short Center by the dam.  You will receive insight of the dam, construction, and the purposes and power it generates. I would like to give a shout-out to Ryan Braaten of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in being so kind to lend his knowledge and time to me answering my questions. I will be doing another article on just the visit to the Dewey Short Center, but in the meantime, go check them out yourself at the Visitor Center located by the Dam at 4600 State Hwy. 165, Branson.


More exciting news about an upcoming project that the Hillcrofters are doing. The Pine Top School & Church that was built approximately in 1909 will be getting a preservation facelift update, courtesy of the partnership of The Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters, Acts of the Shepherd Gathering Church and the Pine Top Trustees. We are so excited that this renovation will be happening.  The history of Pine Top School was located on the Springfield-Harrison Wagon Road after the village was moved to this location.  It is near the Alf Bolin’s notorious Murder Rocks.  Plans are that it will serve as a meeting place for Hillcrofters meetings, bluegrass jams, community events and also used for church services.  Larry Sifford of Acts of the Shepherd Gathering stated, “his congregation is bursting at the seams at The Old Sycamore Log Church, and so this place will help with the community and the overflow of his church now.”


The Hillcrofters mission statement is “To secure its proper recognition, to protect Ozarks wildlife, to preserve the natural beauties of its historic spots, to perpetuate its history, folklore and traditions, to teach our own people the value of the great heritage we possess in these regions.” 


Our founding members are Otto Ernest Rayburn, Vance Randolph, Mary Elizabeth (Prather) Mahnkey, Rose (Wilder) Lane, May Kennedy McCord, and Rose O’Neill in 1931. We are always looking for new members that are interested in these missions and that would find this very entertaining.  My husband John, and our son, Montie are members of this society and would like to welcome you to the entertaining adventures with us. 


Contact the Hillcrofters at, Facebook, or by snail mail at The Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters. P.O. Box 333, Point Lookout, MO 65726.  If you can’t join, maybe you could donate to the preservation of them.


Until next week, stay adventurous and entertain yourself with the vast world we live in!

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