Did You Know There Are Sunken Towns Under Missouri’s Lakes?
Did you know there are sunken towns under Missouri's lakes? I didn't until a buddy sent me this article from the Missouri Legends website talking about it. I mean who actually would think that planned man-made lakes would have abandoned towns under them? That's not something I ever considered.
According to Missouri Legends, the stories of catfish the size of small whales and sunken boats and treasures may be more exaggeration than reality, the fact that there are towns under some of our lakes isn't.
Take, for example, Table Rock Lake. Before they built the dam that created the lake there were low-lying valleys along the the White River that were home to several towns and settlements. One of those villages was Oasis, which Missouri Legends says, is still there 100 feet below the surface.
Maybe not all of it, half a century submerged has destroyed much of the wood, but apparently, you can make out the main street that ran between an old mill, a post office, and part of an old church is still intact. Also the foundations of these buildings are still there.
In northeast Missouri, Congress targeted the Salt River for hydroelectric power and that area also lost their small towns in the valleys that would become Mark Twain Lake. Submerged towns include Stoutsville, Victor, and Florida, the birthplace of Mark Twain. According to Missouri Legends, what was different along the Salt River was many of the structures in these small towns were dismantled and sometimes moved to higher ground.
The lake with the most towns and settlements that disappeared when the lake was filled is Lake of the Ozarks. The towns that disappeared so we can enjoy the Lake of the Ozarks are many including Arnold's Mill, old Linn Creek, Nonsuch, Passover, and a town called Zebra.
Linn Creek was rebuilt once the lake was full and became a functioning town alongside the water. These towns are commemorated inside the Willmore Lodge, where five bedrooms are named for the five cities that were swamped.
So can you scuba dive into any of these lakes and see what's left of the submerged towns? Explore the Ozarks Online does say you can scuba dive on the Lake of the Ozarks. Yet the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau doesn't mention that, and a post on Scubaboard from 16 years ago generally said the lake wasn't good for diving. I didn't find much on scuba diving Mark Twain Lake either, yet since the flooded towns were dismantled/moved, you're not going to see much of that diving Mark Twain Lake anyway.
Table Rock Lake near Branson is a different story. Chateau on the Lake Marina and DiVentures says "The lake is full of interesting dive sites and above average water conditions. Lake visibility is very good by lake standards throughout the summer." While the Thousand Hills website talks about diving to see the abandoned town of Oasis.
They say, "A Midwestern Atlantis, the town still sits under about 100 feet of water. Deep dives in this location will provide the diver with a glimpse of the once quaint little town that includes its one-lane bridge, foundations, and building rubble." Thousand Hills does talk about how divers need to be advanced to do this, so it's not something a novice diver would probably be able to do.
So yes, if you're a scuba diver, grab your gear and head out to Table Rock Lake, and if it's possible, grab some pictures for me. I think I'll stay above the water and enjoy the lake that way.
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Gallery Credit: Angela Underwood