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BRANSON NEWS: Branson, Mo. • Today, Branson is a household name throughout America. But the thriving destination has actually been attracting visitors to the Missouri Ozarks for 126 years.The first family attraction was Marvel Cave, now a National Natural Landmark beneath Silver Dollar City. Discovered in the 1860s and explored in the 1880s, it was opened to the public in 1894. Then, in 1907 the release of Howard Bell Wright’s novel “The Shepherd of the Hills” about the self-reliant and stoic hill people of the Ozarks began attracting visitors interested in seeing the location of the novel. Four movies based on the book followed, maintaining interest in the area.The creation of the Powersite Dam and Lake Taneycomo in 1913, and Table Rock Dam and Lake in 1959 brought water recreation to the area. Also in 1959 four Mabe brothers began the Baldknobbers Jamboree in a converted roller skating rink. An outdoor pageant based on “The Shepherd of the Hills” novel began performances the same year. Both shows continue today.
In 1960 Silver Dollar City opened as a small, old-time Ozarks village attraction featuring an 1880-themed steam train ride, craftsman demonstrations, shops, music and a re-creation of the famous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys.In 1967 the Presley’s Country Jubilee became the first music theater on Highway 76. Still in business, the Jubilee now competes with 50 other theaters nearby, each presenting different elaborately staged shows.Now the rest of the country knows about Branson, and they know about the destination in a good way. It was ranked first in Trivago’s 2017 list of best value vacations in the United States, and 18th in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice destinations.What follows is what is new this year, some unexpected accommodations to consider, and suggestions about how to enjoy the natural beauty of the area in the midst of all …
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