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The changing landscape of a rural region: The effect of the Harry S. Truman Dam and Reservoir in the Osage River Basin of Missouri

Melvin Arthur Johnson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The Harry S. Truman Dam and Reservoir project is of immense size. Many thousands of tons of raw materials were required to complete the construction of the dam and relocations. Millions of dollars were spent to acquire land, compensate those who were displaced, and to pay those who were employed in the planning, purchasing, coordinating, defending, and managing the myriad of contractors, contracts, and legal defenses. The affected area of the project is not only complex physically but also socially and economically. It is, therefore, not surprising that the counties studied (Benton, Henry, and St. Clair) would react in different ways to the same stimulus—the Truman project—from the very beginning, through construction, and finally after completion. This dissertation discusses the reaction of the three counties prior to construction, during construction, and for twenty years post construction. The population changes, changes to the local businesses including farm and non-farm entities, changes to the local tax structures, and finally the visual changes to the landscape are analyzed. ^ The complexity of the situation at Truman as discussed in this dissertation, presents three distinct scenarios. Benton County, home of the dam and majority of project facilities received the greatest amount of economic resources. With a population which doubled, Benton County has capitalized upon its location to the greatest advantage. Henry County also received significant economic resources. However, Henry County had a more diversified economy in the beginning. With a steadily growing population, Henry County has primarily maintained a growing diversified economy with manufacturing, retail trade, and the services sectors providing the greatest amount of wealth to the county. St. Clair County received the fewest economic resources and has continued to have the highest poverty rates. Understanding these scenarios would be helpful to not only the future planner, but also the public policy decision maker and the general public when considering large scale economic development. ^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Johnson, Melvin Arthur, "The changing landscape of a rural region: The effect of the Harry S. Truman Dam and Reservoir in the Osage River Basin of Missouri" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3386840.