The Early Days of Lake Tishomingo

It Started with Dahl Stream

by Barbara Fitzgerald

In the late 40s and early 50s Dahl stream still flowed at the bottom of a deep ravine, where the lake now exists. One side of the ravine was steep and rocky and the other, north side, had a more gradual slope. A current resident remembers coming out here, as a child, to play in the stream and to fish. Her parents had purchased a lot prior to the dam being built. Prospective buyers would walk along the stream and look up the slopes toward the tops of the hill to see white boards marking where the shoreline would be. This is how the lots were marked and chosen.

chalet Some folks found the new development while out for a country drive . . . a popular pasttime for those who lived in St. Louis County. One family had driven down "beautiful and scenic highway 21" to buy winter wood, when they saw the sign advertising lake lots for sale. Others saw advertisements for the lots in the St. Louis newspapers. (There used to be two daily papers . . . the Globe Democrat as well as the Post Dispatch.) In 1963 "Owners and Sole Agents" were listed as Lake Development Enterprises at 1216 Louderman Bldg., 317 11th St., St. Louis, Mo. Tel. MAin 1-4418. This was the era in which many of the "contemporary" style homes were built on the lake. These were modern, flat-roofed or chalet style weekend homes and some full time residences also. The information boasted " Lodge Sites" on a lake stocked with "hundreds of thousands of game fish." The developer of the lake had already built two other lake communities in Jefferson County . . . named Lake Montowese and Lake Wauwanoka . . . in keeping with that current trend of using Indian names for camps and country retreats. They had also built two lake communities in the Kansas City area. (Look for the Indian names as you drive west through the K.C. area and you will see evidence of that trend in choosing names.)

A map of the lake was given to prospective buyers with the Corporation Warranty Deed on the opposite side. Also listed were the then 15 restrictions governing the lake community. At that time the last five dealt with sewer and water service that was to be provided by the developer (Grantor) at a nominal fee to buyers, by today's standards. Those restrictions, along with the infamous #7, have since been dropped (or been changed from their original wording.) Some families started coming out to the lake before there was a dam. They built beaches and docks in anticipation of the lake and then when the lake filled, they came out on day trips for fishing and boating. Some of these lots still have the old sheds that were allowed before houses were built. Some people built homes to live in full time, but many of the first houses were built as "weekend cottages." The first of these was built midway along the north shore by the Kilgore family.

When the dam was completed, it filled in one week's time, due to heavy rains. However, that triumph was short lived. The lake began leaking badly and soon the docks and beaches were without water. A lot of effort was put into finding the leak and repairing it. Professionals from Washington University studied the problem. Eventually, paving material was poured into a hole that was drilled in the dam from the top side. In all, the lake was low for five years before it was fully usable again.

Sand and gravel for roadwork were kept at the front entrance where the "minipark" now stands. It took the garden Club two years to clear the area, label the trees, make log tables and benches and do plantings. The club also did plantings on common areas and cleared paths. When the club had their garden tour by pontoon boats, the pictures and articles covering the event were in the National Gardener and the Missouri Garden Forum.

Around 1960 the LTIA began having annual two day picnics with large raffles. This was their main source of revenue. Cars were raffled as well as other items. One year, a member made Barbie Doll clothes to sell and raffle and LTIA made $1700 on that one endeavor. There were also Bingo games and food and other entertainment. Bonds had been sold to residents in order to build the Community House and it was used for exercise classes, square dance classes and other activities.

If any residents have historical information to add (or correct) please send it along to me.