101 Years of Branson History

Branson HistoryWhen Reuben S. Branson opened his general store and post office it is safe to say he never anticipated Branson one day becoming the "live music capital of the entire universe," as called by "60 Minutes."

Branson’s first official postmaster dubbed the town "Branson" on his application for the U.S. Post Office department, and it was officially named Branson on April 1, 1912.

In 1894, William Henry Lynch, a Canadian mining expert, bought Marvel Cave and with his two daughters started Branson’s first attraction. Lynch opened the cave and gave tours. The cave is still in operation today located under Silver Dollar City.

While Marvel Cave brought visits in from across the country, Harold Bell Wright moved to the Ozarks in 1898 because of health reasons. Wright moved in John and Anna Ross and was so inspired by the Ozarks and its residents he wrote "The Shepherd of the Hills."

The book quickly became popular, and today is the fourth most widely read book in the publishing industry. The book told Wright’s perspective of the Ozarks and told the story of John and Anna Ross, renamed Old Matt and Aunt Mollie, as well as telling about the beautiful views and amazing cave in the area.

Due to the book’s success, tourists from all over began coming to Branson and by 1959 with the completion of the Ozark Beach Dam and Table Rock Dam, Branson was not only known for its beautiful views, but for its outdoor activities like fishing and boating.

1960 began a new era for Branson. Hugo and Mary Herschend opened Silver Dollar City, located 10 miles west of Branson on Hwy. 76. This theme park was fashion after a small Ozark mountain town from the 1880s. The park featured attractions such as a stream train, musical entertainment, food, shopping, and local craftsmen.

In its first year Silver Dollar City attracted 125,000 people to the little town of Branson and continues to be Branson’s most visited attraction today.

While Silver Dollar City was bring visitors for all around, Branson was working on gaining its "live music capital" title.

One of the first performers to start a show in Branson was Red Foley, who hosted one of the first successful network television shows "Ozark Jubilee."

After Foley made the Ozarks more well known with his hit show, performers like the Baldknobbers and Presleys began performing in Branson. Wright’s "The Shepherd of the Hills" even began being performed in an amphitheater where the original Old Matt and Aunt Mollie lived, produced by Dr. Bruce and Mary Trimble.

While the Baldknobbers, Presleys, and "The Shepherd of the Hills" all still perform, Branson has seen countless numbers of great shows, performers, and acts over the years.

Since the 1990s, Branson has been growing and changing to meet the needs of the large groups of tourists that visit every year.

Adding to Branson’s entertainment and outdoor fun, the city has seen the development of the Branson Landing, a waterfront development incorporating dining, shopping, and nightlife. Also, the addition of the Titanic Museum Attraction, the new Branson Convention Center, and Branson’s largest theater, Sight and Sound Theater, only add to Branson’s appeal.

Branson continues to grow, morph, and building onto its already amazing history, and will surely be entertaining visitors for many years to come.

All information about Branson’s history was provided by branson100.org.

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