History: Post-1981

I (Dick Dawson) get up to the camp every couple of months for Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club meetings. While the natural areas are about the same, except for 50-40-30-20 or however many years of natural succession of growing tees have elapsed for readers,  the human artifacts have changed quite a bit in places.    The most obvious changes are that the old Lakeside Restaurant at the bottom of the hill is no longer Lakeside Nature Center,  but a fancy new multi-million-dollar facility has replaced it southwest of the Blue River bridge on Gregory.

Farther toward camp the area south of Gregory is part of an enlarged Golf Course #2, with a bridge across the river to the older part of the course.    When you get to the Lake and look north, instead of a road going along the bluff toward the lagoon,  there is a locked gate with big animal barns for the zoo’s African area that replaced the lagoon;  the suspension bridge leads to various African habitats including gorillas, and the boathouse is still there (see the link to the zoo, then Information, to see a map of the zoo ).

When you get up to camp,  the pyramid-shaped cabins at Westport and Blue Mills designed by Elpedio Rocha were removed when those long corner poles started rotting out at the end where they went into water-retaining  receptacles; however, Blue Mills has four cabins with windows and doors and everything---I don’t know if Outdoor School uses them for programs or not; I hope they are used for something.

The Lake Dining Hall has a covered entry by the kitchen, then a heated hallway with fancy toilet facilities off it, and behind that is a large closet from the dining hall to store tables and chairs.     The telescope was taken out and sold years ago by the Astronomical Society as part of financing their observatory near Lewisburg KS (less city light than the park), and the building is, I think, empty.      Between it and the dining hall is a new Outdoor Education office building.

Farther on down the road, the Hogan is weatherized and has glass windows. And the cabin next to the infirmary is gone.   But the biggest change in the central area is the big sky-blue sprawling Riding Academy which replaced the commissary, old office building, and what to me was the “new” stable,  which includes an indoor riding ring and where lessons and programs are offered by a husband/wife contract concessioner.

The old stone building that was my first nature lodge is still there. The area next to the carnival grounds used for rehab for hawks and owls and other birds has also been enlarged.

And on the road in front of the Lakewood day camp building is a nice sign that says “Lakewood Shelter House”.

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