Osage River

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Osage River
USACE Harry S Truman Dam Missouri.jpg
Map of the Osage River watershed showing the Niangua River
Country United States
State Missouri
Region Osage Plains, Ozarks
City Warsaw, Lake Ozark, Tuscumbia, St. Thomas
Physical characteristics
Source confluence 
  location Vernon County, Missouri
  coordinates 38°01′39″N94°14′39″W / 38.02750°N 94.24417°W / 38.02750; -94.24417
  elevation722 ft (220 m)
Mouth Missouri River
Bonnots Mill, Missouri
38°35′49″N91°56′43″W / 38.59694°N 91.94528°W / 38.59694; -91.94528 Coordinates: 38°35′49″N91°56′43″W / 38.59694°N 91.94528°W / 38.59694; -91.94528 [1]
518 ft (158 m)
Length276 mi (444 km)
Basin size15,300 sq mi (40,000 km2)
  locationnear St. Thomas, MO
  average10,879 cu ft/s (308.1 m3/s)
  minimum640 cu ft/s (18 m3/s)
  maximum216,000 cu ft/s (6,100 m3/s)
Basin features
  left Marais des Cygnes River,
South Grand River
  right Little Osage River, Clear Creek, Sac River,
Pomme de Terre River, Niangua River

The Osage River is a 276-mile-long (444 km) [2] tributary of the Missouri River in central Missouri in the United States. The eighth-largest river in the state, it drains a mostly rural area of 15,300 square miles (40,000 km2). The watershed includes an area of east-central Kansas and a large portion of west-central and central Missouri, where it drains northwest areas of the Ozark Plateau.


The river flows generally easterly, then northeasterly for the final 80 miles (130 km) where it joins the Missouri River. It is impounded in two major locations. Most of the river has been converted into a chain of two reservoirs, the Harry S. Truman Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks.


The Osage is formed in southwestern Missouri, approximately 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Nevada on the Bates-Vernon County line, by the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes and Little Osage Rivers; the Marais des Cygnes is sometimes counted as part of the river, placing its headwaters in eastern Kansas and bringing its total length to over 500 miles (800 km). The combined stream flows east past the Schell-Osage Wildlife Area into St. Clair County, widening into a long meandering arm of the Harry S. Truman Reservoir, approximately 40 miles (64 km) long. The lake receives the South Grand River as a second arm of the reservoir from the northwest, as well as the Pomme de Terre River from the south. The two arms of the reservoir join near the Harry S. Truman Dam in central Benton County.

Downstream from the Truman Dam, the river becomes the serpentine Lake of the Ozarks, stretching eastward for nearly 92 miles (148 km) to Bagnell Dam in Camden County and southwestern Miller County. Constructed in 1931, the dam collects the Niangua River. Downstream from the dam, the Osage flows freely to the northeast in broad oxbow meanders through forested bluffs, joining the Missouri approximately 15 miles (24 km) east and downstream of Jefferson City.


Views of cofferdam, where new Chanoine Dam is under construction, November 3, 1909 Lock and Dam construction. Osage River, Missouri - NARA - 285931.tif
Views of cofferdam, where new Chanoine Dam is under construction, November 3, 1909

The river is named for the Osage Nation, [3] the historic indigenous people who dominated this region at the time when the first European settlers arrived. The river presented significant navigation difficulties for early settlers because of its fluctuating water levels, as well as the presence of shallow pools and sand bars caused by its tight meandering course through the hills.

The Missouri Legislature attempted as early as 1839 to deepen the channel of the river. Early attempts failed because of lack of funding for the immense task. Commercial navigation on the river in the 19th century was confined mostly to smaller craft that could navigate the tight bends and shoals of the river. Improvements in the channel by the last two decades of the century led to greater commercial traffic. These changes made the lower reaches of the river navigable for steamboat commerce for a period of six to nine months out of the year.

In the 20th century, federal construction of the Bagnell Dam, primarily to generate hydroelectricity, began in 1922 and was completed after nine years. It effectively ended commercial navigation on the river. The Truman Dam was authorized by the federal Flood Control Act of 1954 and was completed in 1979.

The two dams on the river generate power for the St. Louis metropolitan area. The large reservoirs have become popular tourist destinations and recreation areas in the region.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Kansas River River in northeastern Kansas, United States

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Arkansas River Major tributary of the Mississippi River, United States

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White River (Arkansas–Missouri)

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Bagnell Dam Dam in 617 River Rd., Lakeside, Missouri

Bagnell Dam impounds the Osage River in the U.S. state of Missouri, creating the Lake of the Ozarks. The dam is located in the city of Lakeside in Miller County, near the Camden-Miller County line. The 148-foot (45 m) tall concrete gravity dam was built by the Union Electric Company to generate hydroelectric power at its Osage Powerplant. It is 2,543 feet (775 m) long, including a 520-foot (160 m) long spillway and a 511-foot (156 m) long power station. The facility with eight generators has a maximum capacity of 215 megawatts.

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks is a reservoir created by impounding the Osage River in the northern part of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Parts of three smaller tributaries to the Osage are included in the impoundment: the Niangua River, Grandglaize Creek, and Gravois Creek. The lake has a surface area of 54,000 acres (220 km2) and 1,150 miles (1,850 km) of shoreline. The main channel of the Osage Arm stretches 92 miles (148 km) from end to end. The total drainage area is over 14,000 square miles (36,000 km2). The lake's serpentine shape has earned it the nickname "Puff The Magic Dragon", which has in turn inspired the names of local institutions such as The Magic Dragon Street Meet.

Truman Reservoir

The Harry S. Truman Reservoir is located in the state of Missouri, United States. It is located between Clinton and Warsaw, on the Osage River and extends south to Osceola. The dam is located in Benton County, but the reservoir also extends into parts of Henry, St. Clair, and Hickory counties.

Route 7 is a state highway with its northern terminus at U.S. Route 24 in northeast Independence and its southern terminus at Interstate 44 southeast of Richland. The section between Harrisonville and Clinton provides an important link for traffic between Springfield and Kansas City.

Sac River

The Sac River is a river in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri. It is 118 miles (190 km) long, with headwaters in western Greene County. The stream passes through the northeast corner of Lawrence County then re-enters Greene County. The stream enters Dade County northwest of Ash Grove. The stream enters Stockton Lake in Dade County between Dadeville and Greenfield, then flows north exiting Stockton Lake in Cedar County. The stream meanders north into St. Clair County, passes under US Route 54 and enters the Osage River in Truman Reservoir southeast of Osceola.

Neosho River

The Neosho River is a tributary of the Arkansas River in eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma in the United States. Its tributaries also drain portions of Missouri and Arkansas. The river is about 463 miles (745 km) long. Via the Arkansas, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed. Its name is an Osage word meaning "clear water." The lower section is also known as the Grand River.

Great Flood of 1951

In mid-July 1951, heavy rains led to a great rise of water in the Kansas River, Missouri River, and other surrounding areas of the central United States. Flooding occurred in the Kansas, Neosho, Marais Des Cygnes, and Verdigris river basins. The damage in June and July 1951 across eastern Kansas and Missouri exceeded $935 million. The flooding killed 17 people and displaced 518,000 more.

Marais des Cygnes River

The Marais des Cygnes River is a principal tributary of the Osage River, about 217 miles (349 km) long, in eastern Kansas and western Missouri in the United States. Via the Osage and Missouri rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

Little Osage River

The Little Osage River is an 88-mile-long (142 km) tributary of the Osage River in eastern Kansas and western Missouri in the United States. Via the Osage and Missouri rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

Pomme de Terre River (Missouri)

The Pomme de Terre River is a 130-mile-long (210 km) tributary of the Osage River in southwestern Missouri in the United States. Via the Osage and Missouri rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

Niangua River

The Niangua River is a 125-mile-long (201 km) tributary of the Osage River in the Ozarks region of southern and central Missouri in the United States. Via the Osage and Missouri rivers it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

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Melvern Lake

Melvern Dam is a dam in Osage County, Kansas.

Kings River (Arkansas)

The Kings River is a tributary of the White River. It rises in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas and flows northward for more than 90 miles into Table Rock Lake in Missouri. The Arkansas portion of the river is undammed and bordered by rural and forested land, the river is popular for paddling and sport fishing.

Papinville, Missouri

Papinville is an unincorporated community in southern Bates County, Missouri.

The South Grand River is a stream in Bates, Cass, Henry and Benton counties of west central Missouri. It is a tributary of the Osage River.


  1. "Osage River". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-03-29 at the Wayback Machine , accessed May 31, 2011
  3. "Cole County Place Names, 1928–1945 (archived)". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)