Branson is a city in Taney and Stone counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. Most of the city is in Taney County, with a small portion in the west extending into Stone County. Branson is in the Ozark Mountains. The community was named after Reuben Branson, postmaster and operator of a general store in the area in the 1880s. The population was 10,520 at the 2010 census.
Aerial view from northwest
U.S. Census Map
|Coordinates: 36°38′37″N 93°13′07″W|
|• Mayor||Edd Akers|
|• City||21.29 sq mi (55.14 km2)|
|• Land||21.14 sq mi (54.75 km2)|
|• Water||0.15 sq mi (0.39 km2)|
|Elevation||774 ft (236 m)|
|• Density||542.43/sq mi (209.43/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0739970|
Branson has long been a popular destination for vacationers from Missouri and around the country. The collection of entertainment theaters along 76 Country Boulevard (and to a lesser extent along Shepherd of the Hills Expressway), including Dolly Parton's Stampede, has increased Branson's popularity as a tourist destination.
In 1882, Reuben Branson opened a general store and post office in the area. Branson was formally incorporated in 1912, and construction of the Powersite Dam nearby on the White River which would form Lake Taneycomo was completed.
In 1894, William Henry Lynch bought Marble Cave (renamed "Marvel Cave") and began charging visitors to tour it. Hugo and Mary Herschend leased the cave for 99 years in 1950 and began hosting square dances in it. The Herschend Family modernized the cave with electricity and concrete staircases, and in 1960 the Herschends opened Silver Dollar City, a re-creation of a frontier town that featured five shops, a church, and a log cabin, with actors that played out the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Harold Bell Wright published his novel about the Ozarks, The Shepherd of the Hills, in 1907. The Old Mill Theater began its first outdoor production based on the novel in 1960. The show known as The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama & Homestead continues in its 58th season for 2017. It is also the home of Inspiration Tower, the Sons of the Pioneers show, and other attractions. The Harold Bell Wright Museum is located within The World's Largest Toy Museum complex. Mayor of Branson for 12 years and entrepreneur Jim Owen built the first theater in 1934 on Commercial Street, originally called "The Hillbilly Theater", which began to attract people from far and wide to tour the area. 1959 saw the completion of Table Rock Dam on the White River, which created Table Rock Lake. In 1959, the Baldknobbers Jamboree opened the first live music show in Branson.
In 1962, Paul Henning, inspired by a Boy Scout camping trip to the Ozarks, created The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran on first-run television until 1971. Henning later donated 1,534 acres (6.21 km2) for the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area near Branson. He also donated the modified 1921 Oldsmobile truck used as the vehicle in the series to the College of the Ozarks, where it is on display in the Ralph Foster Museum.
The Presley family became the first to move their show (Presleys' Country Jubilee) to Highway 76 in 1967, followed a year later by the Baldknobbers. Eventually Branson would have more than 50 theaters, most of them located on Highway 76.
In the early 1980s, Chisai Child's Starlite Theater (not to be confused with the current theater by the same name) was one of the first to introduce stage sets, horn section, elaborate costume changes, and music outside of the traditional country music normally played. It helped to launch the careers of Shoji Tabuchi and many others.
In 1983, Branson began its transformation into a major tourist attraction when the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre opened and began to bring famous country music stars to Branson. Many of the performers who have had their own theaters in Branson first discovered Branson when they performed at this venue. The Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre at the Lodge of the Ozarks has been called the "birthplace of Branson celebrity theatres".
Also in 1983, the 7,500-seat Swiss Villa Amphitheatre opened in Lampe, southwest of Branson. The outdoor amphitheatre brought in acts like Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf, and Ozzy Osbourne. Closing in the early 2000s, it reopened in 2010 as the Black Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.
In 1987, Boxcar Willie became the first internationally known entertainer to purchase a theater in Branson and have a permanent performance schedule there.
In 1989, Shoji Tabuchi opened his first theater in Branson (converting the Ozarks Auto Museum on West 76 Highway into a theater). He then built a new theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in 1990, while Mel Tillis moved into Shoji's old theater. In 1990-1991 several nationally known stars such as Jim Stafford, Ray Stevens, Mickey Gilley, and Moe Bandy opened their own theaters. Along with these national stars, many home-grown shows also had theaters. The Lowe Family featured their show and hosted nationally known stars like Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Vern Gosdin, Waylon Jennings, and others. 76 Music Hall (now known as the Grand Country Music Hall) became the first theater to have three different shows a day performing in different time slots. In 1991, local producer and entertainer Bob Nichols opened the first morning show and the following year, Buck Trent became the first nationally known star to star in a morning show.
The increasing number of theaters and other attractions opening in Branson drew the attention of 60 Minutes, which aired an episode about Branson on December 8, 1991, and called it the "live music capital of the entire universe".
Andy Williams built his theater in Branson, opening on May 1, 1992, calling it the Moon River Theatre. The Glen Campbell Goodtime Theatre opened in 1994, starring Glen along with his "Goodtime Band", daughter Debbie Campbell, the Matthew Dickens Dancers, and comedian ventriloquist Jim Barber. Also headlining their own theaters were Tony Orlando (Yellow Ribbon Theater) and Bobby Vinton (Blue Velvet Theater). In 1998, the Acrobats of China arrived in Branson, making them one of the first international shows to call Branson home. They opened their theatre, the New Shanghai Theatre, in 2005. In 2006, Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theatre opened and is the most recent new theater to be built on Route 76. Branson has continued to add theaters (the most recent being the Sight & Sound Theatres) and shows; it refers to itself as "the live music show capital of the world".
Scenes from the family motion picture Gordy were shot here in 1995.
Just after 1 a.m. on February 29, 2012, the city of Branson sustained damage from an EF-2 tornado in the 2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak. At least 37 injuries were reported, most being cuts and bruises, with the most serious injury being an 80-year-old woman with a head injury. Most of the tourist attractions and businesses were undamaged and remained open after the storm, although at least 11 buildings suffered more than $3 million in total damage. As of November 2012, most of the damage was repaired. Mary Jane Rice, a spokeswoman for Branson Area Chamber of Commerce, told the AP that February is generally a slow time for business and most of the damage would be cleaned up in the next few days. The tornado followed a 22-mile-long (35 km) path from Kimberling City, Missouri, across Table Rock Lake and along the entertainment strip Missouri Route 76 before hitting the downtown area where it blew out or cracked windows in 219 of the hotel rooms in the 12-story/295 room Hilton Branson Convention Center. The tornado extensively damaged three of Branson's 50-plus theatres — (Americana Theater, Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater) and there was damage to portions of Branson Landing on Lake Taneycomo and the Veterans Memorial Museum. Vehicles at the Ride the Ducks water/land attraction were flipped over, but officials said they were not damaged enough to be put out of service.
Attractions and events
The two closest, most convenient commercial airports to Branson with practical airline service are the Springfield, MO (SGF) airport and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA), near Cave Springs and Bentonville, Arkansas, 42 miles and 62 miles away, respectively, from Branson, MO. Between these two airports, service is offered to cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Denver which allows connections to other cities if necessary.
The airport in Branson, the Branson Airport, opened in May 2009. This airport is privately owned, and is the largest privately owned commercial airport in the United States. Over the years, the airport has had on-off service from carriers such as AirTran, Sun Country, and Frontier, but these carriers have either ceased operations or have pulled air service from the Branson Airport.
Besides the numerous entertainment theaters for which Branson is known, other local attractions include Hollywood Wax Museum Branson, Silver Dollar City, White Water, Branson Top Ops, Mount Pleasant Winery, Dolly Parton's Stampede, ziplines, cave tours, go-karts, mini golf, and more. Ripley's Odditorium is housed in a building that has been made to look as if it is cracked wide open by an earthquake or other disaster, while the Titanic Museum is a half-scale replica of the famous ship and iceberg.
Branson Landing opened in the summer of 2006 on the Lake Taneycomo waterfront in downtown Branson. The lakefront project includes retail space with Bass Pro Shops and Belk as anchors in an outdoor shopping mall of stores and restaurants. It also features a scenic boardwalk along the lakefront with the Branson Landing Fountains at the heart of the property as well as a Hilton Hotel. Branson Landing has been known to host summer concerts and other special events throughout the year. The convention center, situated between Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson, opened September 7, 2007. The Branson Scenic Railway is located in the old depot, across from Branson Landing.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.80 square miles (53.87 km2), of which 20.63 square miles (53.43 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water.
|Climate data for Branson, MO|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||44
|Average low °F (°C)||21
|Record low °F (°C)||−15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.30
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||3.20
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 10,520 people, 4,688 households, and 2,695 families residing in the city. The population density was 509.9 inhabitants per square mile (196.9/km2). There were 8,599 housing units at an average density of 416.8 per square mile (160.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.0% White, 2.0% African American, 0.9% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.8% of the population.
There were 4,688 households of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.8% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.5% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.77.
The median age in the city was 41.2 years. 18.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.7% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 19.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,050 people, 2,701 households, and 1,661 families residing in the city. The population density was 374.0 people per square mile (144.4/km²). There were 3,366 housing units at an average density of 208.1 per square mile (80.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.50% White, 0.84% African American, 0.86% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.47% from other races, and 1.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.26% of the population.
There were 2,701 households out of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,997, and the median income for a family was $43,145. Males had a median income of $31,769 versus $21,223 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,461. 12.1% of the population and 9.7% of families were below the poverty line. 15.6% of those under the age of 18 and 17.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
- Kim Boyce, Miss Florida 1983
- John Burkhalter, businessman; born in Branson
- Janet Dailey, author
- Barbara Fairchild, country and gospel singer
- Jack Hamilton, baseball player
- Dino Kartsonakis, pianist
- Tony Orlando, popular music singer
- Jim Stafford, comedian, singer, master guitar player
- Shoji Tabuchi, country music fiddler and singer
- Andy Williams, popular music singer
- Barry Williams, singer and actor
- Boxcar Willie, country music singer
- Yakov Smirnoff, Russian comedian
Branson is served primarily by Branson Airport, the closest commercial airport. Prior to the opening of Branson Airport, Branson was served by the larger Springfield-Branson National Airport located in Springfield Missouri. M. Graham Clark Field is a general aviation airport located in Branson that serves mainly single engine aircraft.
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