Mission & Goals
- Leading the way in economic development
- Attracting others to the Forsyth community
- Keeping a focus on traditional community values
- Encouraging relationships between Chamber members
- Networking opportunities through informal social gatherings
- Increase communication with members through newsletters and direct contacts
Charyl E. Soyland
Forsyth High School
Finish Line Performance & Service LLC
Forsyth was an important river town in the Ozarks prior to the Civil War. It was the head of navigation for steamboats on the White River, the point where cargo was reloaded on smaller boat to go further up river or on wagons to go overland. In 1861, most of the inhabitants of the area were farmers who had come from eastern states.
Taney County was officially organized in 1837, and the first courts met in private homes. A controversy arose over where the courthouse should be located, at the mouth of Swan Creek as the population center of the county, or at the mouth of Bull Creek, the geographical center of the county. Log cabins were built at both locations, but in 1845, the court was officially located in Forsyth at the mouth of Swan Creek. In 1855, the County received permission from the State to erect a three-story brick courthouse, on a site which is presently Shadow Rock Park. The courthouse was built by Larkin W. Selsor for $3,600 and was 50 feet square.
During the Civil War, both Rebel and Federal Forces occupied the town of Forsyth. In July 1861, Union General Nathaniel Lyon ordered Thomas W. Sweeny to take a force to Forsyth to remove the Rebels. Earlier attempts by the Taney and Christian County Home Guards had failed. July 22, 1861, General Sweeny accomplished his assignment in one hour, with 1200 Union troops and some artillery with 12 pound howitzers. Three cannonballs breached the courthouse, causing several casualties. Sweeny remained in Forsyth until noon the next day when he returned to Springfield with all his troops and several wagon loads of captured booty.
The courthouse and other buildings were again damaged in the fire that left the town of Forsyth a smoldering ruin on April 22, 1863. The Federals had fortified the town and then burned it down rather than have it fall into the hands of the Rebels.
After the war, the courthouse was repaired but burned again in 1865, destroying most of the records. In 1889, after unsuccessful attempts were again made to move the county seat, a new courthouse was authorized and $5,000 appropriated. L.W. Selsor, evidently the same contractor who built the 1855 brick courthouse, built a 40’by 50’ stone building with a 10’ by 12’ tower, on the foundation of the previous building. The courtroom occupied the second floor with offices on the first.
With the completion of the Powersite Dam across White River in 1913, Lake Taneycomo was formed. At the time it was believed to be the largest impoundment of water in the country for the production of electric power. The dam is 1,300 feet in overall length. The spillway, 600 feet long and 50 feet high.
The effect of Bull Shoals Dam was much greater on the community of Forsyth. Bull Shoals Lake was formed in 1951, and Forsyth had to be moved from the low land at the mouth of Swan Creek to the top of the bluff. The courthouse was disassembled and the stones were sold to the School of the Ozarks and moved to Point Lookout. A new courthouse was built and still stands in the present Forsyth location.
For more information on the history of Forsyth and surrounding Ozark towns, please contact the White River Historial Society or Forsyth Library.
Looking for something to do around Forsyth?
Things around Forsyth may move at a slower pace than other, more crowded, areas of the country but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do here. In fact, we have been blessed with an almost endless list of outdoor activities. If you’re looking for something to do in and around Forsyth, we’ll give you some ideas.
Fishing opportunities in this area of the Ozarks are seemingly endless. Forsyth offers access to both Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake. A number of area creeks and rivers, including Swan Creek that flows through Forsyth’s Shadow Rock Park also offer productive fishing.
The Forsyth area offers hunting opportunities on a number of parcels managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. They should be contacted to learn the latest laws and regulations related to hunting on public lands.
Boating opportunities in the Forsyth area are endless. With Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake so close you can be on and off of the water in just minutes. If you canoe, Swan Creek that runs right through Shadowrock Park is another great place to get on the water.
Walking & Hiking
The Empire Park Trail follows Bull Shoals Lake from Shadowrock Park to Empire Park at Powersite Dam. It is an easy accessed trail suitable for walking or jogging and, since it is paved, also suitable for wheelchairs.
Parks & Forests
The Forsyth area has a number of parks available for both day use and overnight camping. Shadowrock Park, maintained by the City of Forsyth and River Run Park, maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, are both on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake and offer great opportunities for day use as well as camping. Click here for more information regarding these local parks. In addition to developed parks, Forsyth is in easy driving distance (15 miles) to the Mark Twain National Forest.
There are many different scenic drives in the Forsyth area; so many it may be hard to make up your mind which one to take first. Stop by the Forsyth Area Chamber of Commerce to pick up an area map and ask about recommended drives. Take the Green Route and see all of Forsyth and where our Membership is located!