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History of Big Cedar Lodge

The ruggedness of Big Cedar Lodge’s remote setting will surely inspire your curiosity about the Native Americans and wildlife who roamed these hills for a century, living in harmony with the land. Tucked deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the area was accessible only by horseback and foot. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, railroads made their appearance, transforming this everyday world into a vacation paradise.

The 1920s found two prominent Missourians building lavish country resort homes on land adjoining the Long Creek arm of the White River known as Big Cedar Hollow. Together, business entrepreneur Jude Simmons and Frisco Railroad executive Harry Worman acquired 300 lushly forested acres.

Simmons created a log mansion, reminiscent of the grand wilderness hunting lodges found in the Adirondacks, while Worman constructed a Tudor style retreat of stone and stucco. Native materials were used throughout both homes, which can still be seen today in Devil’s Pool Restaurant and The Worman House.

As the Great Depression left the American economy in decline, travel became more difficult, and the families spent less time in these wilderness retreats. The property then changed hands for a short time to a consumptive logging firm before being purchased in 1947 by Dan Norris, a real estate executive and hotel operator. Norris added a lodge, swimming pool and stable to the properties creating Devil’s Pool Ranch Resort.

The White River was dammed to form Table Rock Lake in 1958, setting the stage for the Ozarks’ premier wilderness resort, Big Cedar Lodge. 

Purchased by Bass Pro Shops’ founder Johnny Morris, in 1987, the Simmons and Worman buildings were restored to their original prominence, rigorously committing to renew the natural beauty of Big Cedar Hollow. Big Cedar Lodge is now a grand wilderness resort, reminiscent of lavish, turn-of-the century Adirondack hunting lodges, but with all the modern conveniences. Spread over 800 acres in its own wooded hollow in the Ozark Mountains and overlooking 50,000 acre Table Rock Lake, it has “quickly matured into the ‘Best of the Best’ in the region” according to the Wall Street Journal.

When you visit Big Cedar Lodge today, you will see, taste and feel the inspiration of the Osage Indians. Just look over in to Devil’s Pool and you can feel days of yesteryear come to life. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the stomping of dancing feet from past parties with Harry & Dorothy at the Worman house. You can easily embrace nature’s beauty walking down one of our many trails where you’re sure to be greeted by one of our resident squirrels and imagine the sound of joy coming from little kids running through the hills at Devil’s Pool Ranch Resort.

As part of the Big Cedar family, come settle in to the sheer enjoyment of the Ozark Mountain countryside surrounded by pristine Table Rock Lake and lots of friendly smiles.

Visit our Collections Boutique to purchase an entire history of Big Cedar in a 68 page book written by Charlie Farmer.


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