Branson, city (2020 pop. 12,638), Taney and Stone cos., SW Mo.; inc. 1912. Located in the Ozark mountains, the town was originally established when Reuben Branson opened his general store there in 1882. Two years later, a local entrepreneur purchased Marble Cave (renamed Marvel Cave) just west of town, and began hosting tours and square dances there. Harold Bell Wright's 1907 novel, The Shepherd of the Hills, brought new attention to the region, encouraging tourists to visit. The first theater opened in 1934, although Branson didn't become a major home to country music shows until the early '80s when the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater opened; others followed, some taking up permanent residence in their own custom-built halls, so that today there are over 50 performance venues in town. Other attractions like Silver Dollar City (opening in May 1960) helped attract tourists. Other attractions include Lake Taneycomo (home to the development Branson Landing) which was created when the Powersite Dam was erected in 1912. The town was hit by a tornado in Feb. 2012, leading to over 30 injuries and some property damage.

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