The story of how a little town, nestled amid the Ozark Mountains, became one of the most popular tourist destinations in America is well known. Not so well known however, are some of interesting underlying historical facts. Here’s five questions, the answers to which that we hope you will find interesting:
1. Could Branson be an April Fool’s joke? Well it was incorporated on April 1, 1912 and was almost destroyed before it even got started. An early morning fire on August 30, 1912 burned all but three of the city’s businesses to the ground.
2. Has “Branson’s” most popular paid attraction, has never been located within the city limits of Branson? The 1880s styled Silver Dollar City, easily its most popular paid attraction, is located on “Indian Point,” miles from Branon’s western border. Since the very early days of tourism the term “Branson” has covered entertainment and attractions outside the “city limits” of Branson. Even the first theatre on the now famous Branson Strip, the iconic “Presleys Theatre” was miles outside of the Branson city limits when it opened in May of 1967.
3. Is the city of Branson named after Ruben S. Branson? In 1882 Ruben S. Branson, who operated a general store near the mouth of Roark Creek and the White River, opened a post office in his store and named it “Branson” after himself. In 1902 the post office name was changed to “Lucia” and there was no “Branson” post office. The name was changed back to “Branson” again in 1904 after the two Township Plats, “Lucia” and “Branson,” were acquired and combined by Charles Fulbright and his “Branson Town Company” at the end of 1903. When the city of “Branson” was incorporated in 1912 did it take its name from “Ruben” or its post office?
4. Is a Guiness World Record set at every performance Presleys’ Country Jubilee? Just about everyone knows that the first theater on the now famous Branson Strip was the iconic Presleys’ Theatre. What they might not know is that two of the original cast members of Presleys’ Country Jubilee, the hilarious “Herkimer,” played by Gary Presley, and the shows smiling drummer, his younger brother, Steve Presley, have continuously performed in the show since its opening over 50 years ago.
5. Is Branson oldest continuously operating attraction is a cave? “Marble Cave,” was first opened as an attraction to visitors by William Lynch and his two young daughters, Genevieve and Miriam in 1894. It was renamed “Marvel Cave” in 1927 and in 1950 was leased to the “Herschend family,” Hugo, Mary and their two teenage sons, Jack and Peter. The Herschend family has operated the cave under lease ever since. After signing a 99-year lease, the Herschends made many improvements to the cave, but wanted something for people to do up on the surface while they were waiting to tour the cave. Hugo’s vision was to have Ozark craftsmen demonstrating their crafts. That vision, along with some insight from an old-time resident of the town that used to be located at the mouth of the cave, “Momaros,” were the seeds which were planted and nourished by the Herschend family. Those seeds blossomed into an 1880s themed town named “Silver Dollar City,” located at the entrance to the cave, which opened May 1, 1960. The rest is history!