Fond memories and local history shared by the Stockton class of ’69

Before and after the dam

Submitted by Glenis Hamilton

I remember my parents speculating about where exactly the water might rise and which people might be forced to sell their farms. There was tension and anger among farmers and homeowners affected by the dam and much talk about eminent domain. For those who had to sell their farms or homes, it was a hard time.

Being a kid when all this started, all I knew was things quieted down and construction began.

I was soon caught up in the excitement.

I remember coming into town on East Street one night as several larger construction vehicles were arriving. We were all excited and Dad pulled over so we could all stare and point at tires bigger than the men standing there! It was really happening…we were going to have a dam!

My grandparents once lived at the top of what the locals called Chapel Hill. I remember the steep drive up a narrow, rough and curving gravel road always in disrepair. People were amazed at how easily the contractors [building the dam] conquered the old road — Then they paved it, too!

In fact, the local pastime became driving around the “lake” which was not a lake yet. Often with mixed emotions, the homes of people we knew abandoned. Some were being moved. Even cemeteries were being move (I seem to recall some strife over that issue).

On the other hand, we were in awe at the process as the dam and the lake began to take shape.

The newspaper kept explaining some things, like “core samples.”

We walked on dry land under what is now the “mile long bridge” and tried to imagine water all around us and over us.

Meanwhile, in daily life, we passed through high school and graduated in 1969. We had a pretty stable population and had gone to school with the same group of kids from first grade to seventh grade knowing everyone and most of their parents as well.

Then kids from Caplinger Mills, Jerico Springs and Bear Creek began to join us.

Having new kids coming in from all over the country was very different!

We were curious and friendly at this new development and the result was many friendships which continue to this day.

A memory worth a chuckle

Submitted by Elaine Haun

My family moved to Stockton in 1963 because my Dad bought a dairy farm in the Bear Creek area.

The first crews working on the Stockton Dam moved in about the same time, so many people presumed we were just part of “the dam people.”

Genuine thanks for the Stockton community

Submitted by Gary Mock

Construction was slow in Kansas City back in the mid-60s when Dad got a job as a carpenter at the dam.

I remember being a nervous 16-year-old kid moving from Raytown to Stockton. I’ll never forget how helpful and friendly everyone was at Stockton High School. Thank you, everyone, for making me feel comfortable — like I fit in!

Dam brought friendship, responsibility when Stockton became home

Submitted by Gatha Fox

My Dad, Ray Fox, worked at the warehouse on the dam during all my high school years.

My favorite times were 1968-69 when different girls were having slumber parties at different homes. We had no worries as teenagers.

Then we had to grow up and take on lots of responsibilities.

I can honestly say, since retirement, I am enjoying less responsibility and playing with my granddaughter.

I guess we have come full circle — life is good!

Dam made Stockton new, positive impact felt by many

Submitted by Mary Fern Taylor

Yes! It is 1969, the year of graduation and the long-awaited Stockton Dam is being finished!

The lake has brought so many changes to my hometown of Stockton.

While some thought building a dam would make Stockton a ghost town, my brother Wayne’s pig lot turned into a four-space trailer park for some construction workers.

After losing so many farms and farmers to the lake, the local Allis-Chalmers dealership, Powell Implement Company — my family’s business — added Evinrude boat motors and Richline boats to their inventory. Western Construction bought an Allis-Chalmers D-21 tractor from us.

The class of 1969 had welcomed many new classmates. While some lasting friendships were created, other acquaintances moved on and were never heard from again.

I met a man working on the dam with Seaton Construction Company in the summer of 1967 and married him in the summer of 1969.

Stockton did not become ghost town either.

It is a wonderful place to call home and a great place to take three great-grandchildren fishing and swimming.

Historical note: Originally, the dam was conceived as a flood control project. It was later when the decision was made to add power production. My family had original drawings of the dam and flood control plans, but unfortunately the plans were lost in the 2003 tornado.

Moments to remember of Stockton Lake

Submitted by Paula Stahl Sheridan, Kansas City

Our family discovered Stockton Lake in 1976. Although we have camped at various places around the lake, our favorite camping spot has been at Hawker Point Campground.

We found Hawker Point quite by accident. After a weekend at the State Campground, we were crossing the now famous “mile-long” bridge and saw campfires and campsites close to the water’s edge. Deciding to explore where this could be, we found Hawker Point, the beginning of decades long family gatherings and memories to share from generation to generation.

We created names for many places around the lake — family names which only we understood. When we talk about The Picnic Cove, Beaver Bay, Eagle Rock, Yahoo Bridges, The Ski Cove, Haunted Campground, Horsefly Alley, The Grotto, Campground Cemetery — we know where those places are and they come alive. We can picture them in our hearts and minds.

Over the years I created various stories and reminiscences about the lake and the years shared with it, a place which has become even more special and fond in our memories since. With growing age and diminishing ability, we have reluctantly put our camping shoes aside. So many stories still can evolve, many more tales of moments and memories can find their way to the words included here.

I cannot count the number of times in the past we have come to this lake. The day is quietly settling into night. Evening wraps my world in the prism colors of sunset, the lake mirroring the sky upon its whispery ripples. Trees and rocks on the far side fade into an amber light. Evening birds are beginning their echoing call as they rush and swoop for their night feeding. The concertos of crickets and tree frogs reach crescendo again and fade away again. Absorbed in nocturnal hues and sounds of the other side of daylight, I settle into my chair beside the water, my reverie disturbed only occasionally by the barking cry of the heron as it glides across the lake to its nesting place.

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