A bustling town driving driven by theaters and country music fame, Branson, MO history is a unique tail of resilient farmers, post Civil War conflict and a century-old tourist attraction. The Ozarks provide the backdrop for the story of a small, easily overlooked town, that would find recognition for both its wildly successful show industry and reputation as a family-friendly vacation spot. Local or visitor, take a moment to familiarize yourself with Branson, MO history.
The Branson area history dates back to the 1800s and is rooted in the plights of settlers who moved to Ozarks from neighboring states. According the to Branson.com, these settlers were of English, Scottish and Irish descent, and had made a living farming in states like Tennessee and Kentucky. This region would eventually become home to violence and lawlessness during and after the Civil War. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the Branson began to develop into what it is today.
Named after Reuben Branson, owner of a general store that doubled as a post office in the 1880s, Branson was officially incorporated in 1912. However, Branson’s popularity began gaining momentum five years earlier in 1907 following Harold Bell Wright’s novel “The Shepherd of the Hills,” a story about life in the Ozarks. According to Bransonmo.com, the novel found national success, and as a result, people began visiting Branson to catch a glimpse of the Ozark culture that the novel detailed. “The Shepherd of the Hills” would eventually be adapted to both film and theater.
But Branson’s spike in popularity from Wright’s novel was only the beginning of the attention it would receive. Fishing in the White River and the popularity of Lake Taneycomo laid the foundation for the town becoming a popular vacation destination. According to the Branson Tourism Center, the construction of the Table Rock Dam transformed Lake Taneycomo into an ideal cold water fishing spot in 1959, due to the effects that the dam’s formation had on the lake (Table Rock Lake was also created as a result of the dam, and is one of Branson’s most popular attractions). Today, the Showboat Branson Belle cruises the waters of Table Rock Lake while entertaining its guests.
Of course, the highlight of town’s history is its show business. Around the same time as the formation of Table Rock Lake, the Baldknobbers Jamboree performed Branson’s first show. The following decade saw the town’s theater scene develop, and as stated on Branson.com, 1967 saw the beginning of the Presley’s Country Jubliee on Highway 76, and along with comedian Gary Presely (aka “Herkimer”), the entertainment in Branson began to develop. During this time, an outdoor pageant adaption of “The Shepherd of the Hills” was performed for the first time, and the show is still running today.
Country music artists from across the nation also found the area a suitable destination, starting with Red Foley, and later Boxcar Willie and Roy Clark, among others. Clark opened the Celebrity Theatre in 1983 (now the Hughes Brothers Theatre), helping cement Branson as a respected country music town.
Today, as stated on Branson.com, there are 50 theaters and over 100 shows running in Branson, with more seating than Broadway! Renowned musicians including the Charlie Daniels Band, LeAnn Rimes and blues outfit Huey Lewis and The News are all slated to perform in Branson this year (and that’s just a few!) Despite its small size, Branson has rightly earned its title as “Live Entertainment Capital of the World.”
We’d love for you to experience Branson for yourself! World-class entertainment, beautiful Ozark scenery and more await you here, and the best way see it all is by staying in an Amazing Branson rental cabin. We have plenty of cabins that will meet your preferences and enhance your time in Branson. Contact us today!