The Ghost of Big Cedar is the focal point of one of the best known legends of the Ozarks region around Branson, Missouri. It tells of the spectral image of a young woman that is often seen on the grounds of Big Cedar Lodge.
The resort is on Table Rock Lake in Ridgedale, a community about ten minutes south of Branson. It was the private playground of the Worman and Simmons families in the days before the Great Depression, long before the area became the tourist mecca that it is today. Table Rock Lake did not yet exist and the hollow where Big Cedar stands today was best known for Devil’s Pool.
American Indians told early settlers that the deep spring-fed pool was a “bottomless pit.” Strange things happened around the Devil’s Pool and settlers soon concluded on their own that it was haunted by the spirits of early Native Americans. The stories continued after the hollow was purchased by Harry Worma and Julian “Jude” Simmons during the 1920s. The two successful businessmen were attracted by the wild and scenic beauty of the spot.
Worman, a railroad executive, and Simmons, an entrepreneur, were neighbors in Springfield and they decided to build adjacent vacation homes on at Big Cedar. They spent much time there in the years before the Depression, often entertaining friends in the beauty of the Ozarks.
Worman’s young wife Dorothy, said to be “half his age,” was the subject of considerable talk in the area. One story is that she showed up at the post office in Ridgedale wearing just her bathing suit, an unheard of thing in those days. Another claims that she had an affair with a staff member and ran away with him to Mexico where she soon died under mysterious circumstances. Her body was brought back home to Missouri for burial but some believe that her spirit lingers on.
Stories grew in the years after Dorothy’s death that the shadowy figure of the unhappy young woman could still be seen walking the grounds around Devil’s Pool. The sightings even increased after the former Worman and Simmons properties were turned into today’s Big Cedar Lodge with employees and guests alike claiming to have seen the ghost.
It is usually described as a young woman with brown hair who is always seen wearing a long white dress. Some eyewitnesses say that she appears sad, but others describe a playful and mischievous ghost. She sometimes shows up in photographs taken by guests of the resort, usually as a reflection or faint anomaly in the background.
Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, purchased the Worman and Simmons properties to create Big Cedar Resort in 1987. His goal was to build a world class wilderness resort and he has achieved his goal in magnificent style. The two historic vacation homes were lovingly resorted to house restaurants and now serve as focal points for a resort that the Wall Street Journal has called the “Best of the Best” of the region.
Learn more about the resort and its amenities by visiting www.bigcedar.com.
This video show you the remarkable twin attractions of Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock: