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Monday, July 12, 2021



90 years ago this year, The Bagnell Dam at Lake of the Ozarks was completed, creating one of the largest recreational lakes in the U.S., boasting a surface area of 55,000 acres,
stretching 92 miles from end to end, and over 1,150 miles of shoreline.

“…built by the Union Electric Light and Power Company of St. Louis (now AmerenUE) between 1929 and 1931. Bagnell Dam, named for the closest town when construction first started, is a 148-foot tall, 2,543 foot-long concrete gravity dam with a 520-foot long spillway, and a 511-foot long power station. The Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation designed and engineered the dam construction on the Osage River at a cost of more than $30 million.  At the time of Bagnell Dam’s construction, the Osage River valley was lush and fertile. Damming of the Osage River caused the river to snake back on itself, submerging the timber and farm land. The project also caused the eventual destruction of Old Linn Creek, then the Camden County seat.” []

Started just before The Great Depression hit, it’s purpose was power – electricity, to be exact. But it also provided jobs. Lots of jobs. For construction, a railroad, a dredge for gravel, a concrete plant, and a sawmill were built. The town of Bagnell, which no longer exists, housed some of the more than 20,000 workers who took part in the massive project. 

Completed in August of 1931, The Bagnell Dam is a tourist attraction in an area full of them.

Fun Facts (from Ameren Missouri) 
The Bagnell Dam was the largest - and last - major dam in the U.S. to be built with private investment.

- The Bagnell Dam actually got its name from a railroad man who formed his own town and then named it after himself. William Bagnell platted a town bearing his name on June 30, 1883.

- Bagnell Dam is one-half mile long, rising 148 feet high from bedrock. That’s comparable to a building 12 stories high and seven blocks long. It holds back 600 billion gallons of water.

- Ameren Missouri invested $53 million in upgrades at Bagnell Dam in 2017 and 2018, including 67 post-tensioned anchors and more than 66 million pounds of new concrete to weigh down the dam and secure it into the bedrock. The project created more than 200 construction jobs and an estimated $40 million in spending in the area.

- In a typical year, the Osage Energy Center produces more than 500 million kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to supply the needs of nearly 42,000 average households.

- By using the natural energy of falling water, the Osage Energy Center saves our nation about one million barrels of oil or one million tons of coal each year.

- Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, covering 86 square miles in four counties.

- Lake of the Ozarks is a little more than 100 feet deep at its deepest point. The lake level reading is the height of the surface of the lake above sea level. The full pool elevation of the lake is 660 feet above sea level.

Photos of construction Courtesy of The Missouri State Archives
Photo of the completed dam by


  1. back when they knew you had to create projects, which created jobs, which benefited all. An amazing story.

  2. Thanks for sharing this amazing piece of engineering.