Plan some future family fun with a visit to the past at one of four historical museums at Lake of the Ozarks. The Lake area’s notable people and places come to life through exhibits and artifacts at the Camden County Museum in Linn Creek, the Miller County Museum in Tuscumbia, the Morgan County Historical Museum in Versailles and Willmore Lodge in Lake Ozark. Not only do these museums showcase the Lake area’s past, but they also serve as community centers in the present. They host arts and craft shows, dances, social gatherings, art classes, entertaining and educational presentations, special holiday events, and dinner theater All welcome visitors free of charge, but donations are appreciated.
Camden County Museum
From 1930 until the mid-1970s, the Camden County Museum (206 S. Locust) in Linn Creek was the Linn Creek School. Fast forward to the present and the former classrooms have become windows to the past, in which you can visit a pioneer school, a courtroom or see the vault from the old Camden County Bank. Visitors also can examine antique medical equipment, a display of vintage firearms, Civil War memorabilia and a new Native American artifacts exhibit, as well as other remnants from days gone by. The Camden County Museum is open daily from March through October from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more information about the Camden County Museum or for a full schedule of museum events, call 573-346-7191 or visit the museum’s website at www.camdencountymuseum.com.
Miller County Museum
Get into the Ozarks pioneer spirit at the Miller County Museum (2005 Highway 52) in Tuscumbia. Catch a glimpse of life in the 1800s at two rustic, rebuilt log cabins from the Lake of the Ozarks’ post Civil War era. Museum exhibits range from the Civil War to the 1940s, and include a replica of a one-room schoolhouse and a mock-up of a farmhouse, complete with a variety of antique farm equipment. The museum also features a telephone switchboard from the 1940s, Civil War items (including period dresses), Osage Indian artifacts and other historical finds.
The Miller County Museum is open from May through October on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the Miller County Museum or for a full calendar of museum events, call 573-369-3500 or visit the museum’s website at www.millercountymuseum.org.
Morgan County Historical Museum
The Martin Hotel was once the oldest continuously-operated hotel owned by one family in the U.S. Now, the landmark hotel houses the Morgan County Historical Museum (120 N. Monroe) in Versailles. Open from 1877 to 1972, the Martin Hotel (originally owned by Samuel and Elizabeth Martin) served as lodging for legendary guests such as infamous outlaw Frank James, showman P.T. Barnum and two U.S. Presidents – Grover Cleveland and Harry S. Truman. Of course, you can’t check into the 28 rooms anymore but you can check them out – they are filled with exhibits dealing with famous visitors and objects from the history of the area. Inside the rooms are replicas of a 1927 beauty parlor, an old post office, a doctor’s office and even a war-themed room.
Versailles’ Morgan County Historical Museum is open on weekdays from May through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information or for a full calendar of museum events, call 573-378-5747 or visit the museum’s website at www.morgancohistory.org.
Willmore Lodge Museum
If you’re interested in the rich history of industry in the Lake of Ozarks area, then Willmore Lodge should definitely be a stop on your history tour. The Adirondack-style Lodge was built in 1930 as the main administrative offices and entertainment facility for Union Electric’s Bagnell Dam construction project. Today, the two-story log structure is home to the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and is a cultural activities center, but it also houses a museum. The museum highlights an exhibit about life in the area before the Dam (including an exhibit about the Osage Indians), a room presenting information about the construction of the Dam from start to finish, an area dedicated to the form and function of Bagnell Dam, and an exhibit concerning the geography, geology, flora and fauna of the Lake.
Willmore Lodge is open all year on Mondays though Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 1-800-451-4117 or go to www.willmorelodge.com.