A Pictorial History of
Bull Shoals Dam &
The Town of Bull Shoals

The Dam
The Town
Bull Shoals Created
by C.S. Woods
History of Bull Shoals Dam
 • 1947
 • 1948
 • 1949
 • 1950
 • 1957
Flood Control

       History of Bull Shoals Dam
The Dam...
• Drainage Area: 6,036 square miles
• Lake Area: 71,240 acres     • Shoreline: 1,050 miles
• Water Storage: 5,760,000 acre-feet (2,360,000 acre-
   feet for flood control)
• Lake's Deepest Point: 204 feet
• Protects: 4,500,000 acres of farmland
• Length: 2,256 feet     • Width: 220 at base
• Height: 263 feet above river bed
    • Ranking: Largest in LA., Ark., Mo., Kan., Okla.,
    and part of Texas
  • Water Use: 8 generators - 10 million gallons/minute
  • Construction Began: July 9, 1947     • Ended: July 1951
  • Dedication: July 2, 1952 by President Truman
  • Power First Produced: Sen. John McClellan threw
     the switch Labor Day 1952
  • Power Production: 190 megawatts at peak production


The Town...

Charles S. Woods Sr. built towns. Bull Shoals was his 15th and last development. He came to the area in the early 1940's and died here in 1957.     Town of Bull Shoals - Platted: August 14, 1946
  Original Size: 1,050 acres, 2,076 lots
  Incorporated: February 8, 1954
  Arkansas City of Second Class Charter Given: April 1972

Mr. C.S. Woods Sr. with secretary Edith Strahan

Mr. C.S. Woods Sr. - founder of Ozarks White River Company, Inc. with secretary Edith Strahan. This was Bull Shoals' first real estate company.


Ozark White River Company Inc.
Ozark White River Co. Inc. - first real estate
company where customers viewed lots for sale
Co-founder of Bull Shoals Charles S. Woods Jr.
Co-founder of Bull Shoals Charles S. Woods Jr.


Town of Bull Shoals Created by Developers Charles Woods Sr. & Jr.

C.S. Woods Sr. came to Arkansas in the early 1940s and sold land all across northern Arkansas for $1.25 to $3 an acre. He was in the right place when the U.S. government authorized the future construction of Bull Shoals Dam.

According to local historians, Woods incorporated his efforts in 1945, raised $10,000 from investors and bought land from 17 farmers on Newton Flat, totaling about 1,200 acres. His son, Charles Jr., joined him in Yellville. Together, the two men did much of the work themselves, clearing brush for future streets and sketching street plans on brown paper bags. The street plan was the first official document of the town, filed August 15, 1946. That is the date which marks the beginning of Bull Shoals. Lots were selling from $125 to $1,000 (for a lot with a potential lake view).

All the streets were wide with the principal streets of Central, East and West Broadway (now C.S. Woods Boulevard) laid out 100 feet wide. Of the 21 miles of streets, they put down nine miles of gravel and a three-mile stretch of blacktop. A three-story tower-like structure in the center of town was the location of Woods' real estate company, Ozarks White River Company, Inc. It is said that buyers could go up three stories and view the area they would most like to own.

When dam construction was to start in 1947, buildings went up at the south edge of town to house the supervisors of the construction project. Still today, this part of town is known as "Super City."

Other adventurers came to open necessary businesses. Woods marketed the lots as being in "A New Town Which Has a Great Future" and could show that it was located on a rapidly forming large lake.

Charles Woods Sr. and Jr. are credited with successfully lobbying to have Highway 178 routed over Bull Shoals Dam connecting Marion and Baxter Counties. Dedication Day, July 2, 1952, found Bull Shoals with a population of 131. That day, the crowds swelled it to 6,000.

Bull Shoals attracted retirees and outdoor enthusiasts for fishing and lake recreation during the 1960s, leading to additional business investment. The tourist attractions opened by Roy Danuser - Mountain Village 1890, Bull Shoals Caverns, and Top 'O The Ozarks Tower - are still associated closely with the identity of Bull Shoals.

Since 1972, Bull Shoals has been a City of the Second Class. According to the 2000 census, 2,000 people in 1,226 households call Bull Shoals home. That was a 30 percent growth rate from 1990. Charles "Pappy" Woods should be proud to know he built a town that would last.

First Grocery Store  
Rosalie Batchelder
Central Blvd. Bull Shoals 1948
First Grocery Store
First Postmaster - Rosalie Batchelder in front of first post office and pharmacy
Central Blvd. Bull Shoals 1948 - Esso Station (right), Sophia Rumbler's Dry goods (left) - back room was NATCO's first telephone office

A Pictorial History of Bull Shoals Dam

Congress authorized construction of Bull Shoals Dam in 1941, but World War ll delayed the project. After two rounds of bidding, the contract was signed in May of 1947. Construction took from 1947 until 1951, with the power system installation completed in 1952. The cost was $76 million, plus nearly $30 million for the power system.

Ozark Dam Contractors, a consortium of nine companies, won the bid for the dam. Companies in the consortium were: Brown & Root, Inc. of Houston, Texas; Wienderlich Contracting Co. of Jefferson City, Mo.; Peter Kiewit Son Co. of Omaha, Neb.; Winston Brothers Co. Minneapolis, Minn.; David G. Gorgon of Denver, Col.; Condon, Cunningham Co. of Omaha, Neb.; Morrison-Knudsen Co., Inc. of Boise, Idaho; J C McGuire & Co., of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Charles T. Thompkins Co. of Washington, D.C.; Harvey S. Slocom coordinated the construction.

President Harry Truman always said the lakes and dams were for the use of the people.

Bull Shoals Lake

The overlooks above the Bull Shoals Dam were part of the sales campaign to have a place where the public could watch the construction process. People came from 42 states and 10 foreign countries to view the construction activities in 1949.

Building materials were transported by two specially constructed projects. A conveyor belt 30 inches wide and 7.8 miles long carried the rock aggregate from Lee's Mountain near Flippin to the dam site concrete plant. It broke down only once when struck by lightning. A railroad spur was built to move the steel, cement and heavy equipment from the Cotter railhead. The rail spur followed the east bank of the White River to the dam site.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the dam. Southwestern Power Administration wholesales the power within a six-state region including Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. About 800,000 megawatt hours of power is sold annually.


August 1947 - View from left bank of river, upstream from axis of dam. Bull Shoals was first chosen as a dam site in a 1925 survey by John Nickerson & Company of New York.  1948  The 7.8 mile conveyor belt from the quarry on Lee's Mountain just northwest of Flippin to the dam site is carried aggregate to the concrete redi-mix plant producing 400 yards of concrete per hour.
 1948  Excavation in progress. This view is from the left abutment, along the axis of the dam.
1949  Construction progress on Bull Shoals Dam shown from the left abutment. Nine construction companies joined forces in a consortium to build the dam under the name Ozark Dam Contractors. Harvey S. Slocum headed the operation.  1950 

A general view of night operations at Bull Shoals Dam. It took 1,500 men (working around the clock, seven days a week) four years to complete the project.

 1957  Bull Shoals Lake reached its highest level ever July 2, 1957 - 694.42 ft. elevation. This Corps of Engineers photo shows the pool elevation at 691 ft. Water flowed over the spillway with 17 tainter gates open 1 ft. (The Bull Shoals Lake level, as of June 18, 2002, was 688.80 ft.)

President Truman Declares Dams A Result of Progressive Policies

When President Harry Truman arrived to dedicate two hydroelectric dams, it was a day the area had been "feverishly preparing for" for five months, according to The Baxter Bulletin of July 3, 1952. People were thrilled to see the President and all the dignitaries who accompanied him on that hot, muggy July 2, fifty years ago.

The President had flown to Little Rock on the Presidential plane "Independence," then boarded a special train to Cotter for an overnight stay, then to Norfork for a brief ceremony, then on to Bull Shoals by auto caravan over some newly-paved Arkansas roadways.

President Truman, in a crisp white suit and white Panama hat, dedicated Norfork Dam in a brief ceremony at 8:45 a.m. and then, Bull Shoals Dam, in the main ceremony at 10:30 a.m.

In his speech, President Truman blasted the private power companies that had fought against the dams, and promised to proceed with more dams because the people needed them. "These dams belong to the people and we are here to dedicate them to the service of the people."

President Truman pledged to build more dams and to get the electricity produced to the people through the Rural Electric Cooperatives. "I've just asked the Congress to appropriate money for Table Rock Dam on this same river up in Missouri," saying it should be started that same year. Further flood control measures would take 20 years to complete, he said. "Some time or another, we're going to get it done, in spite of all the opposition," he said.

President Truman spared no words against the private power companies, calling their actions to stop the dams examples of 'private selfishness." As he saw it, the power companies were among the special interest lobbies that were "ganged up together to work against the public interest." He said the fight for a general flood program had been going on for 30 years.

"If it hadn't been for the New Deal and the Fair Deal of the last 20 years, you wouldn't have these dams and these improvements on these other rivers like it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it."

President Truman and Sid McMath
The Presidential Train
President Truman & then Governor Sid McMath at the dedication
President Truman arrived at Cotter in the Presidential Train


Bull Shoals Dam & Others Bring Flood Control to White River Basin

Gone, now, are the devastating floods of the White River Basin - like the spring flood of 1927, when the White River crested at Cotter about 105 feet above the river bottom, lapping at the bottom of the Cotter Railroad Bridge.

Downstream from Cotter, four million acres of prime farmland flooded. Another result was the Flood Control Act of 1938, the law which would allow the government to begin controlling the 6,000 square-mile White River Drainage Basin, formed by the Boston Mountain Range. Bull Shoals Dam and three more dams would be built on the White River (Taneycomo Dam was pre-existing [1913] and privately owned.)

Bull Shoals Dam

Here, now, are the flood control dams of the White River Basin
with construction dates:

  • 1941-1944 Norfork Dam - $28.6 million
  • 1947-1951 Bull Shoals Dam - $76 million
    (dam and power system total - $106 million)
  • 1959 Table Rock Dam (Missouri) - $79 million
  • 1960-1966 Beaver Dam - $76 million

South Shore Foundation...
...is a nonprofit, charitable organization working to enhance the quality of life in communities located along the south shore of Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. Chartered in 1996, South Shore Foundation has assisted nonprofit groups with projects in education, environmental preservation, economic development, and community betterment.

Northern Arkansas Telephone Company is a family-owned and operated company located in Flippin, Arkansas, which serves a 658 square-mile area in Marion and Boone Counties in Arkansas. NATCO has provided Bull Shoals with telephone service
since 1951.

NATCO Technologies...
...is a subsidiary of NATCO Communications, providing Internet and other telecommunication services to the entire Twin Lakes area of Baxter, Marion, and Boone counties.

NATCO Communications, Inc.
Northern Arkansas Telephone Company, Inc.
NATCO Technologies
NATCO Cellular

Produced for the 50-year anniversary of the dedication of Bull Shoals Dam by President Harry S. Truman
July 2, 1952 - July 2, 2002.

Brochure Design and Production Donated by NATCO Communications, Inc. Produced in conjunction with the Bull Shoals Historical Society with the assistance of Robert Harper, author of The History of Bull Shoals...the best little town by a dam site.

Special thanks to the following for assistance and use of photographs and informational materials: The Baxter Bulletin, Baxter County Historical Society, Bull Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Bull Shoals Historical Society, Enterprise Printing, Harp's Village Mart, Linda Masters, Marion County Historical Society, Betty Morrow, Ozarks Watch magazine, Glenn Priebe, Southwestern Power Administration, the late Edith Strahan and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.