Bull Shoals Lake, located in both Missouri and Arkansas, is not only a very popular attraction for fans of the outdoors, but also houses a dam that is the fifth largest of its kind in the United States. The lake resides on the White River, roughly 60 miles south of Springfield, Missouri and around 170 miles north of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Construction of the dam that forms Bull Shoals Lake was started in 1947 and completed in 1953. It can be found 7 miles north of Cotter, Arkansas. In 1952, commercial generation began on Bull Shoals, with the powerhouse and switchyard finishing construction in 1953. The final two generation units were installed in December of 1963, completing construction at an estimated cost of $86,000,000.
Bull Shoals is one of four multiple purpose projects constructed in the upper White River Basin, along with Norfork, Table Rock , and Beaver Lake, for the control of floods and the generation of hydro electric power. Bull Shoals has also become an excellent home to many recreational activities.
Bull Shoals can cover more than 71,000 acres at flood control levels, and 45,440 acres at conservation pool elevation. Besides being an impoundment of the White River, Tributaries for Bull Shoals include Little North Fork, Howard, East and West Sugarloaf, Bear, Jimmie, Bee, Big, Beaver and Swan creeks. Water flows through the dam and feeds the lower White River. Elevation of the lake ranges from 695 feet at top of flood control to 654 feet at top of conservation pool.
Bull Shoals' limestone shorelines can range from 740 to 1050 miles depending on water height. The clear blue water of Bull Shoals attracts scuba divers and spear fishers from many states. Museums, Caves, the oldest house standing in Arkansas, and an old pioneer village also attract many tourists to this marvelous lake.
The James A. Gaston Visitor Center at Bull Shoals-White River State Park is not your typical visitor center but an education center as well. It features state of the art exhibits, “White River Stories” in the Johnboat Theater, spectacular views of the area from the deck or the two-story observation tower, and a gift shop to find that perfect souvenir.