Bob Mitchell: Corps scrambled for boatdock sponsorships

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It’s been about 60 years ago now, that Table Rock Dam was completed and the Army Corps of Engineers were scrambling to determine a method to get sponsorships for boat dock facilities around the large perimeter of the reservoir.

Their eventual solution was to approach communities around the shoreline to sponsor and possibly promote the use of the facilities.

Included in the effort were a total of four facilities, three in Barry County and one just over the line in Stone County. The possibility seemed to appeal to those responsible to town-elected officials as most of them had municipal names attached to their names.

Eagle Rock

Most people in Cassville thought the Eagle Rock facility, located at the new Highway 86 Bridge, would be Cassville’s choice, but quickly learned that wasn’t to be. Glen Hall, who had been chosen by the city council to be the developer, had made another choice, so the upper lake dock was tagged with Eureka Springs, Ark.

Developer and longtime operator of the facility was Bill Obins. Hank Lowe was associated with dock services for a number of years. A longtime manager of the facility is Darrel Tilford of Seligman.

Big M Dock

Further down stream, in the Mano community, Art Grass of Monett was the chosen developer and chose Big M as the appropriate name for this floating boat service business.

Grass was one of the first of concessionaires to not extensively install lights in the boat stall areas, thus eliminating the problem of bugs and spiders on rental areas.

The dock was and is located just around the point from the old Golden Bridge location. During instances of low water, paved approaches to the bridge are visible. The bridge was demolished and dropped into the reservoir.

Current owner of the Big M Dock is Andy Stewart of Shell Knob who is no stranger to the hosting business on Table Rock. His parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Stu Stewart were longtime operators of an early resort, Hardman Hollow, in the lake community.

Viola dock

Located up Kings River, an easy boat run from the mouth is the Viola Dock, now known as Kings River Marina, whose sponsor was Berryville, Ark. This is the lone dock on this arm of the lake. Developer of the facility was Dick Hestwood, an airline pilot, who came into this country with intentions to stay, but that didn’t happen and the facility has gone through a number of operators.

As the only commercial dock on this arm of the reservoir, it has always been popular with fishermen because of the legendary fishing in the Kings River. Current owner is Dwayne Boggs.

Campbell Point

This facility was chosen by Glen Hall and tabbed Cassville’s Campbell Point before the 1958 completion of the dam and subsequent filling of the reservoir. Campbell Point was the developer’s choice mainly due to deeper water and location adjacent to development the Halls and Wheelers owned across the cove.

Campbell Point was one of the docks facing early floods that sent water over the top of the incomplete dam the spring before completion.

Gene Stimble currently owns the facility, which is located just above the Big Creek arm of the reservoir.

Properties changed hands

All the dock facilities have experienced change of ownerships over the succeeding years of their establishment. In each case, modernizing has taken place in changing out flotation material from Styrofoam. All have added boat rental and service space in their offerings to the public.

Projects at some now include aluminum structural material in their respective locations.

There are also restaurant facilities at Big M, Viola and Campbell Point for the boating, camping and visiting public.

Also at each of the Corps facilities, extensive camping accommodations are offered. Each of the dock entrances have supervisors during the heavy part of the season.

Generally, the so-called Barry County docks have served the public well and contributed considerably to the tourism economy of the area.

Off the spike

Missed in recent comments regarding activities during previous openings at Roaring River State Park is one that was on the back page of notes.

It had to do with what was possibly the last steak cookout and gaming gathering at the Group Camp in the park. During this activity, a friend of mine was extremely active in the processes. While this was nothing new for him, the noted results of the evening included his wife being seen wearing a full-length mink coat a couple of weeks later. So far as can be determined, this outing ended such activities during the opening.

Ceasing these activities would have been a disappointment to the younger generation, members of which once visited the cabin areas, viewing under blinds to see who of the community was involved in these activities.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.