BRANSON, Mo. When discussing what came first “the city of Branson” or “Branson,” it’s kind of like debating, “What came first the chicken or the egg” except, in this case, there is a clear answer. That answer is “Branson.”
The name “Branson,” as used to refer to an international tourist destination people have been coming to for over a century and the city of “Branson,” comes from the name of its first post office. The post office was inside a general store located near the mouth of Roark Creek and the White River. It was named after Ruben S. Branson who established the store at that location in 1882. The city of Branson was not incorporated until April 1, 1912.
Well that’s the short and quick of it, but there is a lot that went on in between and, for a short period of time, what eventually became the city of “Branson” almost became the city of “Lucia.” Early in the 1900s, as the railroad moved toward Branson there were two primary competing interests trying to get land and plat towns to take advantage of its arrival.
The first town platted was â€œLuciaâ€ on October 2, 1903 with the town of â€œBransonâ€ platted soon after on October 26, 1903. According to most historical accounts, Charles Fulbright and his â€œBranson Town Companyâ€ acquired both town sites by the end of 1903.
Interestingly, today as people drive to and from Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing, they can still see the lingering evidence of both town plats. In terms of today, what was the northern boundary of the Lucia plat and the southern boundary of the Branson plat come together at Main Street, State Route 76, starting approximately at the eastern edge of the Highway 65 interchange and going eastward down the hill towards Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing. The Streets in each plat, although numbered the same, did not line up with the same numbered streets in the other plat resulting in an offset. These offsets are readily observable as one drives Main Street between the Highway 65 Intersection and its intersection with Business Route 65 in Historic Downtown Branson.
Between 1903, with the plating of the township of Branson and its chartering as a city on April 1, 1912 two things happened in conjunction with each other that helped make “Branson” a major tourist destination. The first was the coming of the railroad and construction of the Branson Train Depot and the second, was the publishing of Harold Bell Wright’s epic novel about life in the Ozarks, “The Shepherd of Hills” in 1907. Together they provided they provided the reason and means for tourists to come to “Branson” and the first hint of what a tourism destination “Branson” was to become.
During 2012, the city of Branson will be celebrating â€œ100 years of Heritage, Harmony, and Hospitalityâ€ as it hosts the millions of visitors that will be coming to Branson to experience its live shows, attractions, lakes, natural beauty and the myriad of other activities that makes it such a special place it is.