As you know, it is January, which means its cold, wet, and also, cold.  I know a lot of you guys are dreaming of days when you could go to the lake and have some fun outside. 

Now me, personally, I'm not a huge fan of....being outside in general.  But, I was thinking of you guys, and so I thought I could do a little summer daydreaming for you.  Well, that's what started this, anyway.  I was looking first to find the biggest lake in Missouri.  Simple enough.  The biggest lake is the Truman Reservoir.  The two biggest lakes are close in size, with the Truman Reservoir covering 55,600 acres of surface area and the Lake of the Ozarks covering 54,000 acres. Bull Shoals Lake is third with 45,150 acres and Table Rock Lake comes in as the fourth biggest lake in Missouri at 43,095 acres. The deepest lake is Table Rock Lake.

And of course, all those numbers started to make my eyes glaze over.  But then, I saw a little note at the bottom of an article about Table Rock Lake.  There's.... a TOWN at the bottom of the lake.


Let's unpack that.

The Story of The Town At The Bottom Of Table Rock Lake

So basically, nobody really knows how the town of Cedar Valley began.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of documentation in that regard.  At some point before the 1930's, the name of the place was changed to Oasis.  Because, of course, it was as pretty as an oasis in the desert, right?  Right.  The town itself was mostly a place for people to pass through on their way out of state.  There were about 21 residents in 1931, but they had a mill, a church, and a general store.  The store was a pretty important spot for a lot of the more residents because it was a polling place, too.

People voting in booths

So the people of Oasis knew their town was known as a good stopping place as people continued to travel into Arkansas.  What they didn't know much about was electric power. The county tried to bring them a little further into the modern era, but, and I'm just talkin' here, they failed pretty spectacularly, if I do say so myself.  Their solution was to basically build a nowhere.

Taney county built a bridge near the mill at a cost of several thousand dollars. But the bridge didn't go anywhere. One end had no access road. The other end was built up against a steep hill. There were no funds to build a road to the bridge. Nor were there funds to blast out a road from the rock on the other side. So it remained unused for 10 years, until the roads were finally built. The one-lane bridge was connected to Highway 86.

Which, um, good? I guess that the people of Oasis were happy that someone was trying to care. Thanks for the bridge that...doesn't work. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars, in 1920's money, on that? Well, when the roads didn't come for ten years, I guess they weren't super needed yet.


But what WAS needed, again, was electricity. So the state wanted to dam up the White River to help with that, and to also cut down on flooding. Which would have been great, if...they'd done it when it said they were going to. The poor people of Oasis were forgotten yet again. The Flood Control Act of 1941 funded the bridge, but. Nobody started working on it til 1954.

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Yeah. The people of Oasis had been told, probably in the early forties, that their town would be gone in a few years. So, most of them beat feet. And there were only maybe about twenty of them to begin with. By the time the dam was finally completed in 1958, the town was completely underneath the impoundment.

Today, though, funnily enough, more people visit Oasis now than ever before, and it's under 100 feet of water.

Turns out, the lake is really, really clear. That means that people learning to dive love it, and it gets used all the time. Advanced divers can dive down to Oasis and swim up and down the main street - you can still see parts of the old wood church.  And for a land locked state like Missouri, there aren't as many diving or scuba experiences here as there are near oceans, for example.  So this really opened up a new area of exploration, entertainment, and revenue.
Table Rock State Park has a Dive shop at the marina, and they use it for dive training. 15 area dive shops use it. There are shipwrecks that are frequently dived on. Now, don't get it twisted, you're not going to find the Titanic. Small wrecks. But there's also the General Pike, which was a popular dinner cruise boat. So basically, you can see a town paused by progress about forty years ago underneath Table Rock Lake this spring or summer.

If that's your thing.  But then, right about now, just about anywhere warmer sounds like our collective thing, doesn't it?

Divingly yours,


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Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll

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