Jeff Cooney, who grew up in Eldon and now lives in Texas, was kind enough to send some pictures he had acquired of the old suspension bridge at Linn Creek. They were taken, we think, in the 1910s and 1920s. They show a world that hasn't existed since the Lake of the Ozarks came to be in 1931. You see, most of what is depicted in these photos is under 70 feet of water.
In order to give some sense of bearing and direction, here is a map of the lake bed showing what was once in the valley. The Osage River comes in from the top left edge and makes a sharp bend as it flows to the right. The Niangua River, coming in from the middle left edge, here flows into the Osage. The light blue depicts the course of the two rivers; the darker blue is the outline of today's lake. The old suspension bridge, built in 1911, carries Highway 5 into the town of Linn Creek, which is located at the lower right corner of the map. The red dots are buildings that stood at the time; the brown lines are old fence lines. The old roads are in yellow, and the numbers refer to the photos shown below. Now scroll down to see the pictures.
PHOTO 1. This photo is taken from Lovers' Leap bluff, located just west of the suspension bridge. All that bottom land is under the lake today.
PHOTO 2. This profile of the bridge was taken from near the confluence of the Osage and Niangua Rivers. The bridge was torn down in 1931, just as the lake was filling. If the bridge were still standing today, the lake would cover all of it except the extreme right-hand side--where it joins the bluff.
PHOTO 3. This view looks north toward the toll house. The bridge is out of sight to the left of the house. The road on the right runs under the bridge and leads to the ferry landing on the Niangua River. Today's lake covers most of the roadway leading up the hill.
PHOTO 4. This is the toll house as seen from the bridge itself (taken from the opposite direction of the photo above). The horizontal cables visible in the right foreground are anti-sway cables. The lake today reaches to about the foot of the concrete retaining wall. The toll house is gone, but remnants of the original flooring are still evident.
PHOTO 5. Another view looking north toward the toll house, similar to photo 3. But how is the camera placed so high? There is no record of a building at the camera location. Perhaps it was set atop a windmill scaffold. We'll never know. The low area to the left is now the cove immediately north of Marina Pier 31.
PHOTO 6. The bridge and toll house as seen from the north side of the Osage River. Notice the girls canoeing on the river.
Text and map © 2009 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.