BRANSON, Mo. – Nearly two years ago a fire destroyed the historic Owen homestead at the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area in Branson.
Friday, city leaders cut the ribbon on several new additions to the protected piece of land, located at the corner of Fall Creek and Highway 76, that pay tribute to the past.
"We believe in preserving the legacy of who we have been in the past,” says Branson Mayor, Karen Best, “and holding onto that history while also moving forward as well."
The homestead, which had stood on the property for decades, was owned by Lyle Owen before it was sold to the city in 2011.
Owen was known for his impact on the community as a teacher and economist, and for helping build some 300 rock steps from his home down to Lake Taneycomo.
In September of 2015, a fire gutted the residence, leaving only a few rock walls behind. The cause of the fire was never determined but what is known is no electricity was running to the home.
City leaders were hoping to re-purpose the remaining rock walls but they were deemed unsafe.
However, the city’s parks department found another use for the rocks buy making them into four pillars for a new swing.
The swing, like the home before it, overlooks one of the best views of Lake Taneycomo in the county.
The swing is also accompanied by two new flower beds and several news signs telling about the area’s history.
"You can read all about how [Lyle Owen’s] impact was on our community,” says Best. “It really pays honor to the folks who have come here and what Lyle stood for."
Visitors will also notice a few new additions at the trail head as well; the city dedicated a new pavilion and playground area for children.
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