In the late 1850’s the village that gave Bagnell Dam its name was formed on the banks of the Osage River. The population of the area grew steadily to over 3,000 people by the time Bagnell Dam was being built in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Many, many other workers and their family also camped or lived around the town of Bagnell during that time. Remains of an old gravel cleaning plant used to help build the dam still stand on the river bank just east of the Fish and Steakhouse
Around the turn of the century Bagnell enjoyed the title of “The Railroad Tie Capital of the World” with tie yards located where the present campground is now located. Ties ware floated down the Osage River or brought by wagon and then loaded on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, whose depot stood where the present swimming pool is located, and shipped across the nation. The old railroad still parallels Highway Y The bustling little town had several businesses including a general store, garages, a lumberyard, café, and poultry house. A ferry connected them to the Osage River and connected Highway 54 to Bagnell. The ferry crossing is still visible from the lower side of the campground.
All was good until a devastating fire burned down several businesses in 1931. Another fire in 1932 further destroyed more of the town. The ferry crossing in Bagnell was being replaced by traffic choosing to travel across the newly completed Bagnell Dam. The population began to shift toward the new structure also. The flood of 1943 was almost the final blow to the town as it caused the move of the school to the location of the present day School of the Osage preschool on the strip. The church was also moved closer to the newly re-routed Highway 54 location. With Bagnell’s spirit still alive revival has been slow but sure with the addition of the campgrounds and the fish and steakhouse.
In 2011, another fire devastated Bagnell when a fire broke out in an apartment that was attached to the restaurant. Along with Camp Bagnell Fish and Steakhouse, three residences were claimed by the fire. Bagnell has been down several times but never for the count. With new ownership we are back in action to support the past, and once again bringing the people in the area the food that they love. The bustling atmosphere will once again thrive as it has since the 1800’s in Ole Camp Bagnell. We hope that you enjoy your experience with us. Come back and see us, we’re always happy to see you!