The Beginning of Truman Dam

This press release is courtesy of Phyllis Stewart

In 1951 the Truman Dam had not been built. The Truman Dam was a Corps of Engineers project. On May 30, 1933, a meeting was held in Butler, MO with 400 people voting in favor of the U.S. Engineers to construct a dam for flood control 1 mile west of Osceola, MO. The dam was 2,740 feet long, 65 feet high and it created a 106-mile reservoir. This was the first construction of a dam for flood control.

After the 1951 flood, the Truman Dam project was being talked about for flood control of the Osage River Basin. The project was first called the Kaysinger Dam and then changed to Truman Dam in 1970. It was named after our President from Missouri, Harry S. Truman.

The big problem at the beginning was negotiating with the landowners fairly by taking their land that would be in the flood plain. The landowners were to be given easement money for each acre and each building that had to be removed or abandoned. If the landowner didn’t agree to the engineer’s offer they would condemn the property and take it anyway. Land that was at the 242’ flood level or below got easement money.

Once the easement was given to the landowner, they had to abide by easement agreements. They could not live on the property; no improvements could be made on the buildings and no new ditches could be built. The only improvement that could be made was to fences and pond embankments.

I can remember my folks talking about going to hearings held on building the dam. Some entire towns and businesses went to the meetings and there were even lawsuits trying to get them to stop the project. Some of the subjects brought up at the meetings were about families having to relocate to a different place, the impact on agriculture, killing the fish population (Paddle fish), the loss of taxes from flooding on the most productive farmland in several counties. None of these lawsuits were won. People have often wondered if the Truman Dam project would come up day and would pass the environmental laws in place currently. We will never know.

Next week the article will be on the reservoirs in Kansas and how they have affected the flood control and about the 1951 flood. I hope you will keep reading the articles and also come out to the Papinville Picnic and hear some of the people’s stories about the different floods.

The annual Papinville Picnic will be held on Saturday, September 28th.