Group dissolves after promoting lake for 63 years
In 2021, an organization that was instrumental in the creation and subsequent promotion of Mark Twain Lake, agreed to disband. The members of the Mark Twain Lake Chamber of Commerce voted in late 2021 to dissolve after it was determined that continuation was not going to be feasible, and many of its main functions have changed or are no longer required.
Originally formed in 1958 as the Joanna Dam Association, the Mark Twain Lake Chamber of Commerce for many years continued the work of its founders. Although the names and faces of the group have changed over the years, the focus remained the same: Promotion of the region as a tourism destination to boost the local economy.
The idea of a dam and lake for Northeast Missouri first was discussed publicly in the 1920s, but the plan made little progress for nearly four decades. Then in March 1958, more than 1,000 people attended a meeting in Monroe City and formed the Joanna Dam Association. Hundreds of people from throughout the region soon joined the organization, which had a single goal – to encourage development of the dam on Salt River.
Warren See of Monroe City was named the group’s first president and served in that capacity for the next 28 years. The name of the non-profit group was later changed to the Mark Twain Lake and Cannon Dam Area Development Association.
Through the Lake Association, See and dozens of other community leaders constantly pushed for the Cannon Dam project. The original members envisioned the impact the project would have on the area. They all spent an incredible amount of time and effort keeping the dream alive, knowing that it was very possible they probably wouldn’t realize any benefits themselves from the project. For many of those members, the whole focus was getting the lake built, getting it to become a reality.
That dream was realized in 1984.
Knowing that promoting the lake was the next big challenge, the group’s name was changed to the Mark Twain Lake Chamber of Commerce in 1992 to match their goals.
In recent years, the Chamber contracted with the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments to handle its day-to- day operations.
The organization promoted the lake by attending sports shows, organizing events and gatherings, and advertising the region’s attractions.
Thanks to the transfer of its existing funds to another organization, one of the group’s main events, the July 4 fireworks display, will continue on for 2022 and beyond.