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  • Writer's pictureLucian@going2paris.net

Springdale, Arkansas To Noel, Missouri To Disney, Oklahoma


Grand Lake Campground

Disney, Oklahoma

October 21, 2022



Noel is a city in McDonald County, Missouri, United States, along the Elk River. The population was 1,832 at the 2010 census. The county adjoins the border with Northwest Arkansas.


A post office called Noel has been in operation since 1886. The community was named for Clark Wallace "C.W." and William Jasper "W.J." Noel; brothers, stockmen, and owners of a saw mill.


Noel later capitalized on its Christmas-themed name, along with North Pole, Alaska, Christmas, Michigan, Santa Claus, Indiana, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Each year, tens of thousands of Christmas cards and letters are sent to the USPS Noel Post Office during the holiday season to be stamped with a postmark reading, Noel, Mo. - "The Christmas City in the Ozark Vacation Land". This practice became popular by the late 1940s when Kate Smith, a radio and television singer, began telling the "Noel Story" during her broadcasts. Most of the year, area residents pronounce Noel as rhyming with mole, in honor of the town's namesake, Bridges Noel. The town was founded after the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad arrived.


Noel is home to a Tyson Foods plant, where chicken is processed for human consumption.

By 2010, between 400 and 500 Somali refugees, and 60 and 70 Sudanese refugees, out of 1,800 residents, lived in the town, most of whom worked for Tyson Foods. In 2011, 130 Muslim employees stopped working temporarily after they were allegedly discouraged from praying five times a day for fear of low productivity. Tyson Foods later released a statement dismissing it as a cross-cultural misunderstanding.


On August 3, 1969, a freight train exploded while passing through Noel, spraying fragments of metal through houses and buildings over a six-block area. One person was killed, and 40 others injured.


A mosque was established in 2009, and an African Grocery Store which sells headscarves and rugs in 2010; both are located on the Main Street. In 2017, the mayor, John Lafley, said that the Muslim refugees "want to practice their Sharia law here, and that's one thing the city won't tolerate".


On December 28, 2020, an early morning fire broke out at the African Grocery. It was destroyed. The fire spread to the adjacent mosque as well as other businesses. One person inside the store suffered extensive burns from which they died.


A few days after the fire, the Islamic Society of Joplin launched a fundraising campaign to find a new home for the mosque. The goal was met, raising $100,480.





2010 census


As of the census of 2010, there were 1,832 people, 616 households, and 428 families residing in the village. The population density was 916.0 inhabitants per square mile. There were 731 housing units at an average density of 365.5 per square mile. The racial makeup of the village was 56.6% White, 5.0% African American, 2.4% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 2.9% Pacific Islander, 29.4% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 49.7% of the population.


There were 616 households, of which 45.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 9.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 30.5% were non-families. 22.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.43.


The median age in the village was 28.5 years. 31.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 30% were from 25 to 44; 20% were from 45 to 64; and 6.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 49.3% male and 50.7% female.





Public education in Noel is administered by McDonald County R-1 School District.


Noel has a public library, the Noel Community Branch Library.




Southwest City is a city in McDonald County, Missouri, United States. The population was 937 at the 2010 census, at which time it was a town. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state of Missouri.


Southwest City was platted in 1870. Brothers Ambrose and Larkin McGhee. Well known Indian traders during the civil war and after. Helped layout southwest city. It was named from its location in the southwest corner of the county and state.


The "marker" in the following photos and video is the spot where the borders of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma intersect.





My first time ever in Oklahoma -- I've now been in every state but Alaska.






Disney is a town in Mayes County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 311 at the 2010 census. The town is named for former Oklahoma U.S. Congressman Wesley E. Disney and has no affiliation with The Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney.


Disney is also known as "Disney Island" because it sits on an island at the southern shore of Grand Lake o' the Cherokees. Oklahoma State Highway 28 is the only road into and out of Disney. To get into Disney from the west, one must drive across the 1-mile long Pensacola Dam. To continue out of Disney, two more small dams with spillway gates must be crossed. The northern part of Disney is lake-front, the southern part bounded by a wide stream. The spillways from the two small dams join this stream.


Disney has a herd of "island deer" that, while wild and not kept in an enclosure, act more like dogs, strolling across main street (HwY 28) and nibbling on lawns, shrubs, and flowers.

There is a convenience store, a bait shop, a post office, two drive-ins, and a sporting goods / lake apparel store in the historic "Dam Hotel" building. There are also offices for construction firms, a gift shop, two churches, and a church camp facility.


When the dam was built in the early 1930s, Disney was a different place—hundreds of workers, bosses, engineers, truck drivers, and all the services a large workforce would require were based in and near Disney. The Rogers Cabins motel is the former "superintendents" quarters. About 10 WPA era rock cabins, remodeled as motel rooms, are available. It is one of the few, if not the only, hotels / B&Bs, etc. on the southeast part of the lake. In the October 1938 issue of Scribner's magazine, famed artist Thomas Hart Benton wrote an article about Disney, titled "Thirty-Six Hours in a Boom Town".


Disney's growth is limited by the size of the island and the technical difficulties with bringing municipal services across the dams, so Disney has its own water plant, no public sewer system (all septic), and no natural gas service to houses. The first church in Disney was built by William J Morrow. He worked on the Dam from start to finish, he lived there with his family, wife Cora, children Dorothy, Billie, Jesse (Jake), Wayne, Deloris, & Bobbie Gene, Disney had no church, Mr. Morrow wanted a church for his family to go to, so he built the first church Disney had. He went on to develop a large part of the land around Grand Lake. The Morrows are a large family and many of them still live in Disney, Langley and all around the area.


The Picture in Scripture Amphitheater is 3.5 miles east of town, and on Fridays and Saturdays for several weeks during the summer presents the story of the apostle Paul.


As of the 2010 Census Disney had a population of 311. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 73.0% white, 17.0% Native American, 0.3% from some other race, 9.6% reporting two or more races and 0.6% Hispanic or Latino from any race.


As of the census of 2000, there were 226 people, 124 households, and 56 families residing in the town. The population density was 175.6 inhabitants per square mile (67.8/km2). There were 252 housing units at an average density of 195.8 per square mile (75.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 80.53% White, 0.44% African American, 9.29% Native American, and 9.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.44% of the population.

There were 124 households, out of which 10.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% were married couples living together, 4.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.8% were non-families. 46.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 28.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.82 and the average family size was 2.59.


In the town, the population was spread out, with 14.6% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 28.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.


The median income for a household in the town was $25,417, and the median income for a family was $36,875. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $25,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,975. About 21.4% of families and 24.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.6% of those under the age of 18 and 21.3% of those 65 or over.






Grand Lake o' the Cherokees is situated in Northeast Oklahoma in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range. It is often simply called Grand Lake. It is administered by the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA).





The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture credits Henry Holderman, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma as first envisioning Grand River as a source for hydroelectric power for the Cherokee Nation. Even prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Holderman began building political support for such a project. A feasibility study by the Army Corps of Engineers attracted favorable attention in the Oklahoma legislature, leading to creation of the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), a state agency, in 1935. Construction began in 1938 on the Pensacola Dam on the Grand River (lower Neosho River) as a Works Progress Administration project. The dam was completed in March 1940, creating the lake behind it. Between 1941 and 1946, the U.S. government took control of Pensacola Dam to divert power to the war effort. Control was returned to the GRDA by the Congress and President Truman amid local celebration in August 1946.


Pensacola Dam


Pensacola Dam is claimed to be the longest multiple arch dam in the world, its main span consisting of 51 arches totaling 5,145 feet (1,568 m) in length, and supporting a walkway and State Highway 28, a narrow two-lane highway. A 120 megawatt, 6-unit powerhouse sits at the west end, with 21 spillways on the east end.[2] The project's chief engineer was W. R. Holway (who was also responsible for Tulsa's Spavinaw water project), while the architect of record for the PWA-style Art Deco design of the dam and powerhouse was Tulsan John Duncan Forsyth.


Another mile east, through the town of Disney, lie two small sister dams known as "the spillways" with an additional 21 gates, surrounded by public parks and launching ramp. 510,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction of Pensacola Dam, poured 24 hours a day in just 20 months with Depression-era labor. The lake, and the electric utilities, as well as other projects in the region, along the Grand River are administered by the Grand River Dam Authority, an agency created by the Oklahoma legislature in 1935.


Grand Lake has a surface area of 41,779 acres of water, a storage volume of 1,515,416 acre-feet, and 1,366 miles of shoreline. Unlike other lakes in Oklahoma, Grand Lake is a deep and mostly rocky lake. The average depth for Grand Lake is 36.3 feet. Its mean elevation is 745 ft above sea level. In recent years, low fall elevations of 741 were kept by the GRDA to allow millet seeding for migratory waterfowl, resulting in conflict between property owners, environmentalists, and federal agencies.


While not expressly built for flood control, Grand Lake contributes to the flood-prone Arkansas River watershed. The Army Corps of Engineers controls releases into the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System when lake levels exceed 745 feet, although locking into Grand Lake is not possible. Grand Lake and its neighbor, Lake Hudson (also managed by the GRDA), are the only two major lakes in the state where one can build directly on the waterfront.


Residents of the town of Miami and Native American groups have objected to proposals to increase high water levels at Pensacola Dam in order to maintain the water level at Grand Lake. Miami residents are concerned that when water backs up downstream from Miami on the Neosho River, this can contribute to Miami's flooding problems.


The lake is a popular destination for entertainment in the Green Country region. There are a number of shows in the area, as well as resorts, and a sixty-seven-foot long, twin deck paddle wheel riverboat called the Cherokee Queen, which has been in operation since the 1940s. Consistently ranked among the top bass fishing lakes in the United States, Grand also houses a wide variety of other sport and non-sport fishing. Due to its predictable winds, it attracts sailboaters from across the country as well.

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