Osage Beach ~ Then & Now



The city known today as Osage Beach was originally called Zebra, Missouri. Zebra's post office was established in 1886 and was located on the river bottom, just east of today's Grand Glaize ridge. Zebra, like the surrounding areas, was nothing more than a name with a post office. Zebra was later flooded out with the building of the Bagnell Dam in 1929 -1931 which created one of the North America's largest man-made lakes, the Lake of the Ozarks, and the post office was rebuilt on the top of a nearby cliff, at the heart of the new lake. In 1935, Zebra residents changed the post office designation to Osage Beach, but official boundaries weren't formulated until the early 1960's. 

The City of Osage Beach was incorporated on May 22, 1959, but due to political upheaval and discontent among some in the new town a petition for disincorporation was filed. In a special election held May 17, 1960, voters approved legal disincorporation. But the battle wasn't over and in late 1963 a group interested in re-incorporation began organizing and planning a strategy for change. The group lobbied for incorporation stating that with a growing community certain services could only be afforded to the people through local government organization; for instance, sanitation, fire and police protection, street development, sewer and water service, and even the right to serve liquor-by-the-drink through city liquor licensing. Tourists were becoming more common to the area as entertainment and lake activities grew in popularity many residents were moving in permanently, new businesses were forming, and the group feared without incorporation Osage Beach would not progress and ultimately would lose its identity as the Lake's largest and most progressive recreational area. The group met publicly to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation and directly confronted the issues that dealt with the disincorporation of 1960. The public was eventually called to another special election in 1965.

In the spring of 1965 voters approved the second and final incorporation of the City of Osage Beach and a fourth-class city was created, or more appropriately stated ~ re-created. Official boundaries were established, four wards were formed, two on each side of the Grand Glaize Bridge, two aldermen per ward, and a mayor and marshal to be elected at large. 


The City of Osage Beach is still considered the 'Heart of the Lake of the Ozarks" and has progressed in many ways over the last century. The City has expanded its boundaries, water, sewer, and street infrastructure has been built to each end of the City, and tourism has grown exponentially. The City does not have an elected marshal as it did in the 1960's, but the City remains to be supported by progressive, forward thinking individuals. Political reconstruction has occurred over the years and the City is supported politically by three wards, two aldermen per ward, and an elected mayor. The City is managed under a City Administrator and has numerous departments to handle all City functions. The City currently employs more than one hundred (100) full time employees, and several part time employees each summer. The City has a full-time population of 4,351 (2010 census) and is said to have over 100,000 people on any given summer weekend visiting either as one of the City's many second homeowners or as a frequent weekend vacationer.