Rural Missouri - July 2013 - (Page 26)

On the banks of Bull Shoals For 61 years, the Cook family has welcomed guests to Theodosia Marina-Resort Above: Anglers and vacationers have been coming to the Theodosia Marina-Resort on Bull Shoals Lake for 61 years, making it one of Ozark County’s most popular destinations. Right: In 1953, family patriarch L.B. Cook was just getting started with what he hoped would be a successful fishing camp. the Cook family later, the Theodosia Marina-Resort now stands as a testament to L.B.’s vision for tourism in rural Missouri, providing anglers and vacationers with a place to stay and play while visiting one of the state’s most beautiful lakes. ycamores sway as a light breeze gently coaxes cotton-candy clouds across a cerulean sky above Bull Shoals Lake, just a stone’s throw from the Arkansas line. The early years Below the Highway 160 bridge, swalAs L.B. and Bill came bouncing into lows dive and skim the water, banking Ozark County in that old DeSoto in sharply to avoid the anglers return1952, the new lake hadn’t yet filled. ing from their morning exploits. As The oil-and-chip rural highway the fishermen tie up at the marina and break led to a new bridge that wasn’t for lunch, a family pulls yet complete, its concrete piers awkwardly jutting above away on a pontoon boat, everything in the valley. ready for an afternoon of And Theodosia? It fun on the water. didn’t exist either. It’s warm on this June Theodosia “The town on top of day in Ozark County, but • the hill was called Lutie not nearly as hot as it was back in those days. Theoon June 14, 1952, when Bill dosia was the site for the Cook first gazed upon this valley. marina, but the original town of TheHe was just 11 years old then, riding odosia got flooded out by the lake,” shotgun with his father, L.B. Cook, in says Bill, a board member for White a blue 1948 DeSoto four-door sedan. River Valley Electric Cooperative. “It just can’t be possible that it’s “It was hard advertising a place that been 61 years, but here we are,” says wasn’t on the map, so Dad and othBill as he sits on a deck overlooking ers got busy in the 1960s and got the the lake. “I had no idea what we were name changed.” getting into. I think Dad thought he The Cook’s contract with the Corps knew, but he didn’t.” of Engineers — which L.B. won with a Originally from Joplin, the Cook bid of $2,700 and a 10 percent cut of family operated a dry goods store on gross annual receipts — required him the corner of 15th and Main for more to build a restaurant, a motel and a than 50 years. The store had been a boat dock. The only amenity provided dream for Bill’s grandfather — but not by the Corps was one-seat pit toilet. his father. An avid outdoorsman, L.B. President Truman delivered the dreamed of owning and operating a keynote address for the dedication of fishing camp. So in 1950, he rolled Bull Shoals Dam two-and-a-half weeks the dice and bid on a concessionaire after L.B. and Bill arrived. For the first contract with the U.S. Army Corps of three months, father and son camped Engineers, which was in the process of out under those swaying sycamore constructing the dam to create a new trees as they worked to build the first reservoir along the White River — dock, which they constructed from Bulls Shoals. He won. full 2-inch-thick native oak timber Six decades and five generations of 26 photo courtesy of Theodosia Marina-Resort S by Jason Jenkins and floated on steel drums. “We finished up the office dock in about September,” says Bill, recalling that by fall, his mother and sister moved from Joplin to Lutie where the family rented a house. “We ordered a dozen Lone Star boats from Texas and Johnson outboard motors from Waukegan, Ill., and away we went.” While the venture seemed to have an auspicious start, the Cooks were dealt several blows in quick succession. No sooner had the lake filled the cove in the spring of 1953 than the water started receding as a lengthy drought gripped the Midwest. “The lake literally dried up, and there we were, our docks sitting on the bottom,” Bill says. “Finances got so bad, we had to move out of the house in Lutie and move into the 10-unit motel we built. We just couldn’t make the rent.” Lake levels continued to drop through 1954, and the Cooks did their best to chase the water and customers downstream, but both were hard to find. Mother Nature finally turned WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP the tap back on in the spring of 1955, and through the summer of 1956, both fishing and business were phenomenal. Then, around Labor Day that year, the motel caught fire and burned to the ground. The Cooks rebuilt, only to have torrential rains fall throughout 1957 and cause Bull Shoals to reach maximum flood pool. “So in the first five years, we had a drought, a flood and our first motel burned to the ground,” says Bill, shaking his head in disbelief. “How dumb we were to stay.” Beyond L.B.’s fishing camp In the early years, L.B. operated the little fishing camp of which he always dreamed. Most of the customers were men who came specifically to fish, especially for the largemouth and smallmouth bass for which Bull Shoals was gaining notoriety. The anglers didn’t ask for much: food, lodging and a boat. “At one time, we had 75 rental boats, and on the weekends, we’d rent them all,” recalls Bill, who along with http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2013

Rural Missouri - July 2013
That old-time religion
Natural nest
Long-distance lead
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
Keep it cool
On the banks of Bull Shoals
Retro renovations
Infamous ancestry
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - July 2013