The History of Bull Shoals

by Mary Smith and Mrs. Ralph Batchelder

Early settlers lived here prior to the Civil War. The present town site of Bull Shoals was known as Newton Flat. The bottom land and the river land that the lake now covers was owned by the Johnson family. The land, now the incorporated town of Bull Shoals, was bought by a mining company from the state of Arkansas for one dollar per acre. The Layton brothers of Yellville and Summit, then owners of the Yellville Bank, bought the land from this company. The acres passed from hand to hand after that for many years -- most of the time, the land was bought for taxes.

Gus McCracken of Flippin and Roy Johnson of Mountain Home were owners of the land in 1945-46. About this time, the U.S. Army Engineers proposed that the waters of the White River be controlled by building a dam for flood control and the sale of electric power. This dam was to be constructed at the base of Bull Mountain in Marion County. This attracted the attention of a developer of towns, Mr. C. S. Woods, Sr. He and his son, C. S. Woods, Jr., had visited various areas of the Ozarks, in Arkansas and Missouri, since the late 1930's. So Mr. Woods, Sr., who had an office in Mountain Home, began buying land at the Dam Site in 1945.

In 1946 Mr. Woods dedicated the streets to the public and started an extensive advertising campaign to sell lots in the town site of Bull Shoals. He paid for the paving of three miles of Highway 178 from the Dam to the base of Bull Mountain. He was constantly improving the streets by installing culverts; installed the first street lights; and was instrumental in bringing telephone service to the area.

The first post office was established in 1949 with the appointment of Mrs. Ralph Batchelder as the postmaster.

The little, red, one-room school house served the children from grades 1 through 6 until it was consolidated with the Flippin School.

The first church was established in 1949 by the Methodist Church of Yellville but other religions used the church. Soon Baptist and Presbyterian Churches were established.

Realizing the need for some organization to aid in the development of the town, the few citizens organized a Bull Shoals Business Booster Club, which has been reorganized and renamed to the Bull Shoals Chamber of Commerce.Bull Shoals Dam was completed in 1952 and President Harry S. Truman visited the town and cut the ribbon across the roadway to the Dam. The lake filled for the first time in the spring of 1953, starting a boom in the tourist industry in North Arkansas. National publicity was given by outdoor editors of newspapers, TV personalties and sportscasters from surrounding towns and cities, when they were invited by the businessmen to enjoy the hospitality of the Bull Shoals residents. As a result, visitors to this area discovered the beauty of the "hill country" and found the peace, friendship and contentment they had been seeking, and the giant move from the cities of the retiring citizens began.

Bull Shoals today is an incorporated town in Marion County overlooking Bull Shoals Dam, Bull Shoals Lake and White River. It has a city-form of government with a mayor and city council. The first mayor was Dr. I. C. Morris, who was one of the first to retire here and serve as "town doctor". His wife, Jean, became the first woman mayor of Bull Shoals several years later. She was active in women's civic clubs. She was one of a group of business women from Bull Shoals to go to the State Capitol to petition the State Highway Commission to blacktop Highway 14 South from Yellville and build a bridge over Buffalo River. This helped open traffic from the southern part of the state to North-central Arkansas and Marion County.

Mr. C. S. Woods, Sr., passed away in 1957 but, if he were alive today, he would be proud of the progress of Bull Shoals since that day in 1945 when he started his dream town in the hills of the Ozarks. From this dream, Bull Shoals has become the fastest-growing town in Marion County. It now has city water, a community hospital, shopping center, tourist attractions, recreation facilities, a city-form of government, clean water and clean air. But, most of all, it has the friendliness of its people. Many of the citizens of the community have worked long and hard to make Bull Shoals the town it is today. This has been done by faith, strength and the hope of a bright future . . . the American way.

Bull Shoals Dam
Northeast Quadrant

Reprinted with permission from History of Marion County edited by Earl Berry, copyright 1977.