75 and counting - The use of eminent domain created Lake of the Ozarks: Camdenton MO Lake Sun Leader, 9/7/06


This weekend marks the culmination of a year of celebrations highlighting the 75th anniversary of the completion of Bagnell Dam and the filling of Lake of the Ozarks.

Is it ironic that it comes the same week that The Associated Press reports the group seeking a ballot initiative to limit the use of eminent domain gave up the fight to put the matter to a statewide vote?

It was, after all, the use of eminent domain that allowed a St. Louis power company to force, when necessary, people off the land their ancestors had homesteaded by carving farms out of the wilderness. Many, if not most, were paid a fair price, but there were some forced from their homesites with little more than memories if they could not afford to have their homes moved.

Today, we’re appalled and outraged by that notion, but we would not have what golfing legend Arnold Palmer once called “The hidden jewel of the Ozarks” were it not for the use of eminent domain: 1,150 miles of shoreline full of homes large and small, countless waterfront establishments which cater to all kinds of wants and needs, a nationally renowned fishery, nearly a dozen and a half outstanding golf courses, shops of every description, a first-rate hospital and a thriving economy.

The next time you take the pontoon, bass boat or cruiser out for an excursion, think about how you would feel if a faceless corporation tried to evict you from your home - it ought to put the Lake of the Ozarks in a whole new perspective.

Sometimes the greater good does outweigh the rights of the individuals, although that’s a lot easier to say if you are not the individual in question. Power should always be wielded with great restraint.

All around the lake this summer and fall, celebrations mark the 75th anniversary in numerous ways.

This weekend is AmerenUE’s moment in the spotlight and this will be a chance to see the friendly faces that make up the power corporation.

If you have never taken a tour of Bagnell Dam, this may be one of the few chances you still have and you should take it.

An immeasurable amount of back-breaking labor went into constructing the dam and this weekend we pay tribute to the vision that created the Lake of the Ozarks, the sacrifice of those who surrendered what they called home and the sweat of the men, women and families that made it what it has become 75 years later.

Camdenton MO Lake Sun Leader: http://www.lakesunleader.com