BRANSON, Mo. Called the “the crown jewel of Table Rock Lake,” the new $7.9 million, 15,000 square foot “Dewey Short Regional Visitors Center ” (Center,) designed and constructed from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds is tentatively scheduled to have its “Ribbon Cutting” on April 27, 2012 according to Gala Solari, Assistant Director for the Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation (Foundation). Built on the south side of Table Rock Dam, near the current visitors center, which will be converted into additional office space for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Corps project will be one of only 11 Class A visitor centers in the U.S.
The side of the Center facing Table Rock Lake is entirely glass providing an unparalleled view of two of Branson’s lakes, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo, from its multileveled construction. In addition, among other things, the Center will feature interactive activities, education programs, and displays on area history nature and the inner workings of Table Rock Dam, movies, a gift shop with unique merchandise and serves as the starting point for tours of the inside Table Rock Dam tour.
Solari, points out that the current Dewey Short Visitors Center will remain open until the new Center opens. The Foundation, a nonprofit organization, partners with the Corps to manage the Visitors Center, tours of Table Rock Dam and eight other Corps managed recreational facilities on Table Rock Lake.
Eli Coleman. Director of Parks and Recreation for the Foundation, oversees the operations of Corps recreation areas under the management of the Foundation. In the immediate Branson area this includes seven campgrounds and Moonshine Beach. Coleman said that of the seven campgrounds under the Foundations Management, the Indian Point and Mill Creek Campgrounds are probably the ones closest to Branson. He points out that the Foundations relationship with the Corps at Table Rock Lake is unique. In all other cases, similar foundations just operate the visitors center, but at Table Rock the Foundation manages other recreational areas such as the camp grounds and Moonshine Beach.
Solari points out that under the partnership and agreement with the Corps, any of the revenues raised under any of the Corps activities being managed by the Foundation goes to the Foundation and is used on Table Rock Lake. She said, “The money collected at Table Rock stays at Table Rock.” These revenues include, but are not limited to daily user fees for Moonshine Beach, boat launching fees, camp ground fees and the Foundation’s portion of the fee that is collected for the Table Rock Dam Tours, operated in partnership with Ride the Ducks and which leave, via “Trolley,” multiple times daily from the visitors center. In the past, this revenue was collected by the Corps and went directly to the general fund of the Federal Government and may or may not have found their way back to Table Rock Lake.
“The new visitors center will provide Branson visitors yet another exciting free year round, non weather dependent activity to enjoy,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Not only is it a beautiful structure and experience on its own, but its closeness to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, Table Rock Lake and some our areas most beautiful and accessible trails serves to make it the focal point of experiencing the beauty and wonder of the Ozarks.”
Please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center through their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 for additional information on the Center, Branson’s Lakes, other outdoor activities or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements.