What: Miller County Museum and Historical Society
Where: Tuscumbia, central Miller County
Created on April 8, 1979 the Miller County Historical Society set out to establish a Miller County Historical Museum — and did so after acquiring the former jailhouse in Tuscumbia.
The grand opening of the museum was in June, 1980. The new location of the Miller County Museum and Historical Society currently resides off of Highway 52 in Tuscumbia, right next door to the Miller County Court House.
The museum covers the historical and genealogical information of all 16 communities located within Miller County.
The museum is filled with pictures and stories of the past, as well as the present.
The historical society offers detailed information on family biographies, marriages, obituaries, schools, churches, landmarks, and bridges.
The museum is definitely an experience to take advantage of and learn a little more about the history of your hometown.
The museum has a few small events planned for their summer season, the first being an Ice Cream Social, Saturday, July 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a Chili Dinner and Car Show on Saturday, October 20, from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.
The Museum is open for the summer season Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and group tours are available by contacting 573-369-3500.
What: Willmore Lodge & Bagnell Dam Museum
Where: Lake Ozark, western Miller County
An average of 20,000 people visit Willmore Lodge and the Bagnell Dam Museum each year. Located in the historic Lake Ozark lodge, the museum has exhibits that feature what the lake was like before Bagnell Dam was built, the construction of the dam and how it operates today.
Sponsored by Ameren Missouri, visitors can explore interactive exhibits and videos with interviews of those who worked on the dam. They can also view numerous photographs of the various stages of construction of the Great Osage River Project, which began in August 1929.
A trip to the museum would not be complete without a tour of Willmore Lodge and the grounds. Gardens, a lakeside gazebo and the building itself are a must-see.
Willmore Lodge was built within three months in 1930 at a cost of $135,000. It had all the modern conveniences including 29 rooms, five guest rooms with private baths, a main two-story living room, a kitchen, servant's quarters and an executive suite.
Location: #1 Willmore Lane, Lake Ozark (1/4 mile northwest of Bagnell Dam)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Free, but donations accepted.
What: Swinging Bridges
Where: Brumley, southwestern Miller County
If you’re looking for an adventure, and an up-close-and-personal look at the backwoods of Miller County, then take a trip to what is commonly called The Swinging Bridges.
There are two lengthy suspension bridges that span two creeks that merge before entering the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s all near Brumley, a small community east of Osage Beach on Highway 42.
The bridges cross the Grand Auglaize Creek on Swinging Bridges Road (Lk. Rd. 42-18), a gravel road that winds through the hills.
The first bridge, about 86 feet long, has a corrugated metal floor. It is suspended above a smaller creek by large bands of wire. You can actually see and feel the bridge move as you cross it.
The second bridge — about 414 feet long — has wooden planks for a base and a tire-track of planks for tires. It, too, is suspended by bands of wire and moves with the weight of vehicles.
Weight limit is 5 tons.
Just past the second bridge is access to a small campground and boat launch area. It’s not uncommon to see families settled in for long weekends in their tents and campers; fishermen sitting along the banks of the river; or children playing in the shallow waters of the river.
There are other accesses to the creeks from either bridge.
The bridges, built by Joseph Dice in 1922, are 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 13.5 feet. They are eligible for the National Register of Historic Place.
Average daily traffic as of 2011 was estimated at 250 vehicles.
Directions: Take Highway 42 east of Osage Beach several miles and watch for the Swinging Bridges Road sign at the end of a long hill just before Brumley. The road turns to the southeast.
What: Lake Ozark Strip
Where: Bagnell Dam, southwestern Miller County
A must-see destination for more than 75 years is the Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake Ozark.
Enjoyed by visitors for generations, restaurants and stores of every kind line both sides of the street.
The Dogpatch takes the lead as a must-see for visitors because of its lengthy history on the Strip. The store opened in 1947 as an eclectic gas station and souvenir shop. The original store featured a live snake pit, a lion, piano and tic-tac-toe-playing chickens, and an outhouse complete with a hillbilly mannequin that screamed “Shut that door!”
The live animals are long gone and the mannequin no longer talks, but the Dogpatch remains a must-see destination on the Strip. The store is stocked with gifts and souvenirs for all tastes, and a few quirky, family-friendly surprises.
A couple stores down, the delicious scents waft from Grandma's Candy Kitchen. Between the 20 flavors of fudge or the 40 flavors of old-fashioned saltwater taffy, every sugar craving is filled at the store.
Work off your sugar buzz with just a few dimes. Old-fashioned 10-cent Skee ball can entertain visitors for hours.
Other games fill the arcade shops on the Strip including batting cages. Grab a bat and helmet and hit a few rounds.
Out in front of the batting cages is the iconic "Injun Joe." The 50-foot Indian figure is a favorite gathering spot for pictures. And, if you pay close attention, the statue will reveal a hidden joke.