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Photo courtesy of Martin Teig
Photo courtesy of Martin Teig

Located on the banks of Lake Taneycomo in the heart of the Missouri Ozark Mountains, Rockaway Beach prides itself as one of the first resort towns west of the Mississippi River.

Rockaway Beach is governed by a Mayor and four-member Board of Aldermen and serves a current population of approximately 841 citizens with six full-time and one part-time employee.

Rockaway Beach was founded by Willard Merriam as a summer resort, as its location was ideal for Merriam’s planned resort venture.  The Merriam’s purchased more than 60 acres of land in Taney County with Rockaway Beach as the focal point and proceeded to make a real estate project out of this acreage.

As sales soared and as people became permanent residents of the resort area, there soon was a need for a post office.  The first post office was established in January 1919.

Tourists first traveled to Rockaway Beach via the Missouri Pacific Railroad to Branson or Hollister then down the lake by boat.  Because of Rockaway Beach’s beautiful lakefront location and an almost fishing hamlet appearance, resort businesses were established.  The first dance pavilion was located on the lake shore along with restaurants and hotels.  Boat docks began to spring up along the lake shoreline and a swimming area was established.

Rockaway Beach continued to grow by leaps and bounds and became popular as a family resort village and favorite destination for high school senior class trips, honeymooners, military leaves, and college spring breaks.

Rockaway Beach’s tourism industry suffered a major setback with the creation of Table Rock Lake and Dam upstream in the late 1950’s.  Icy water from the depths of the lake was released into Lake Taneycomo, plunging the water temperature to 48 degrees, losing the swimmers and water skiing and seemingly finishing off Rockaway Beach as a vacation destination.

However, Rockaway Beach, in true Missouri fashion, experienced a rebirth.  Fishermen found that the icy water of Lake Taneycomo made it one of the top trout fishing lakes in the country and has given Rockaway Beach a new identity, with the largest Brown Trout of World Line Class Record caught in Lake Taneycomo in the summer of 1998.

The City of Rockaway Beach maintains and operates water and sewer services, and through public support, is well positioned to support future growth.

The City went on line with a new regional sewer facility in early 2000.  This facility serves not only Rockaway Beach, but the Village of Merriam Woods, Bull Creek Village and other residents in Taney County.  This was a major decision for Rockaway Beach with its proactive commitment to improve the lake and environment by the elimination of septic tanks.

The City maintains the Lake Front Public Park with a free fishing dock, which is totally ADA accessible.  The City once again took a giant step forward by approving a total renovation of the dock, which was completed in the Spring of 2000.  Hardly a day goes by, that the dock does not have fishermen using this facility.  This is the largest free fishing facility on Lake Taneycomo.

The City is constantly working to upgrade the City Departments.  Law Enforcement services have been upgraded with the addition of a new vehicle and equipment to help the two full-time officers with their commitments to protect and serve.  The department hopes to add numerous community-oriented programs channeled toward the youth, including a variety of drug and violence awareness programs.

During the past five years, the City has focused its efforts toward upgrading and modernizing the City’s facilities in order to meet the demands of the future.  The City completed its comprehensive plan and established within the plan a five year development plan, including a new water well and park improvements.

Rockaway Beach truly is an Ozark town proud of its rich and colorful heritage and its bright and promising future.