Mention the city of Branson, Missouri to just about any music fan, and he or she will instantly recognize the name, the town and the rich musical heritage that attracts so many listeners each year. Branson has developed into one of the most popular vacation spots for families looking for outdoor activity, live entertainment and a friendly town. While the Branson boom started years ago and is still underway with millions of new visitors each year and increasingly valuable real estate, the growth shows no signs of slowing down.
So what spurred the town’s economic growth? What made Branson more than just a small town set in the Ozark Mountains? While the area’s beauty is an obvious reason to visit, a number of other factors have made the town what it is today. Through the people that have called Branson home and a series of big events, Branson has gained a reputation as one of the most welcoming places in the country.
The Shepherd of the Hills
Harold Bell Wright’s novel, The Shepherd of the Hills, is arguably one of the most important pieces of the Branson puzzle. Written in 1907, this best-selling book was later turned into a movie that starred cowboy legend, John Wayne. The story is set in the Ozarks, and initial interest in the Branson area picked up dramatically as this story gained popularity in the early 20th century. Now in Broadway form, it is performed on stage from March through December each year in Branson. It is one of the most popular performances out of the hundreds of productions taking place in downtown.
Two of the area’s most gorgeous lakes, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo, have not always been a part of the Branson area. Formed in 1913 by a new dam, Lake Taneycomo sits in downtown Branson. Hotels now sit along the waterfront, and Branson Landing, one of the area’s biggest shopping centers is on this lake as well.
Table Rock Lake was not always a piece of the Branson area either. When Table Rock Dam was built in 1958, this lake was formed. Today, this is one of the biggest attractions for outdoor lovers. With boat rentals, swimming, tubing and hiking trails surrounding the lake, Table Rock Lake is the ultimate place for anyone looking to get a taste of the Ozarks.
Near the beginning of the 1950s, country western singers began to flock to this town for its beautiful setting, and multiple theaters. Everyone from Johnny Cash and June Carter to Wayne Newton has played in Branson, and today, the town is much more than just country music. Rock and roll, classical and Broadway productions are all a part of this live music scene. Many of the original theaters remain, adding to the historical wonder of this town.
While Branson is now known for its hundreds of stores, dining options and live performances, the town’s growth is a story all its own. When you come to spend some time in this paradise, be sure to explore Silver Dollar City. The setting includes men and women dressed in traditional 19th century attire, celebrating the true beginning of what has become the biggest little town in America duke energy customer service