Branson is a town in Stone and Taney counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. It was named for Rueben Branson, postmaster and operator of a general store in the area in the 1880s. Branson is an very popular destination for vacationers from Missouri and the surrounding states.
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Branson History: In 1882, Rueben Branson opened a general store and post office in the area. Branson was formally incorporated in 1912 and construction of the Powersite Dam nearby on the White River which would form Lake Taneycomo was completed.
In 1894 William Henry Lynch had bought Marvel Cave and had begun charging visitors to see it. Hugo and Mary Herschend bought the cave in 1950 and began hosting square dances in it. The Herschend Family modernized the cave with electricity and cement staircases, and in 1960, the Herschends opened Silver Dollar City which was a recreated frontier town of five shops and a church, and it featured a log cabin with actors playing out the feud between Hatfields and McCoys.
Harold Bell Wright had published his novel about the Ozarks, The Shepherd of the Hills, in 1907. The Old Mill Theater began its first outdoor production based on the novel in 1960. The show still runs today.
1963 saw the completion Table Rock Dam on the White River, which created Table Rock Lake.
The Presley family became the first to move their show to Highway 76 in 1967 (which would become known as the “strip”), and a year later, the Baldknobbers moved their show there as well. This area would eventually grow to more than 50 theaters most located on Highway 76.
In 1983 Branson began its transformation into a major tourist attraction when the 7,500 seat Swiss Villa Amphitheatre opened in Lampe, Missouri. The theatre, which was later renamed the Black Oak Mountain Amphitheatre before ultimately closing in the early 2000s, proved there was a market for large music gatherings. Ironically, it started out as a venue for rock bands Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Also in 1983, Roy Clark opened the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre, becoming the first famous country music star to have his own venue in Branson. Many of performers that have played in Branson, got their first start at that venue. A series of larger theatres opened soon thereafter. In 1987, Box Car Willie became the first entertainer with a permanent schedule in Branson.
In 2007, ground was broken for the $155 million Branson Airport on land formerly belonging to Tennessee Ernie Ford. Scheduled to open in May 2009, it is claimed that it will be the largest privately-owned commercial airport in the United States. The construction which involves flattening several Ozark mountains is said to be the largest earth moving project in Missouri history. Currently the closest commercial airport is Springfield-Branson National Airport 50 miles northwest of Branson, and is owned by the City of Springfield.
Branson is home to more than fifty theaters, featuring numerous shows and productions.
Andy Williams Moon River
Dick Clark’s American Bandstand
Grand Country Music Hall
Hamner Barber Theater
House of Rock
Imax Complex and Little Opry
Kirby Von Burch
Legends Family Theater
Shake It Up Showclub
Tall Timber Lumberjack
The Hughes Brothers Celebrity Theater
The Welk Theater at the Welk Resort
Branson’s Other Attractions
Branson is also the home for several museums, three lakes, and twelve championship golf courses. Other local attractions include Silver Dollar City, Celebration City (defunct as of October 25, 2008), White Water, an IMAX Theater, The Shepherd of the Hills, Mount Pleasant Winery, Stone Hill Winery, Ride The Ducks, and Branson Landing.
The Titanic Museum opened in 2006 and includes artifacts from the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Unlike traveling exhibits, Titanic Branson is a permanent two-story museum attraction shaped like Titanic herself, at half-scale.
Another museum in Branson is the American Presidents Museum, one of only six similar museums in the nation, the American Presidents Museum showcases the lives and Presidency of those that have led the United States. The American Presidents Museum is under the direction of the National Center for Presidential Studies, a private non-profit educational organization.
Branson Landing opened in the summer of 2006 on the Lake Taneycomo waterfront in downtown Branson. The lakefront project includes retail space with Bass Pro Shops and Hudson Belk as anchors in an outdoor shopping mall of over stores and restaurants. The new Branson Convention Center, which is situated between the Landing and Historic Downtown Branson, opened September 7, 2007.
Developers are laying out plans for Pinnacle Falls to be located adjacent to Celebration City off of Highway 76. The first Phase, a $250 million dollar European-themed development, is planned to open in 2010 and will contain year-around attractions including an indoor water park, aquarium, themed restaurants, and shopping.