Gaston Visitor Center...

is very interesting. It's a beautiful building, containing a lot of history, and overlooks Bull Shoals Dam, Bull Shoals Lake and White River. (870.445.3629)

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Top-of-Ozarks Tower...

(phone 1-870-445-4302) 20 story tower on top of Bull Mountain (elev. 1110) offering beautiful view of this area. Located 3 miles south of Bull Shoals Dam on Hwy 178. Distance from Newlands: 5 miles.

Note: The tower is closed for now - we hope it will be open soon.

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Bull Shoals Dam...

The tours are discontinued, again ---

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is once again giving public tours of Bull Shoals Dam. Tours were halted immediately following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Go along withBulletin reporter Whitney Methvin as she describes firsthand the tour of the dam. A brave group of 12 were able to explore where no civilian had been before, well at least not in the last six and a half years.The first public tour of the Bull Shoals Dam since the 9/11 terrorist attacks was Friday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invited a photographer and reporter from The Bulletinto accompany the public on the tour. Chuck Birmes of Lakeview led the tour for the group. He said, "It will grow, and grow and grow as soon as we get it (the tours) publicized." All visitors checked in at the Bull Shoals-White River James A. Gaston Visitor Information Center, using a photo ID or valid passport. The guests were then guided to a van where IDs were checked before getting into the van. The tour guides required all personal belongings, except a person's driver's license, be left behind. We were then transported down to the base of Bull Shoals Dam. On the way, we passed through barbed wire-topped gates with intercom equipment for tour and worker entry. While in the van, headphones were passed out for individuals to listen to the tour guide. Upon arrival, we saw a concrete mountain cornered with an even larger face of sheer cliffs and sprouting trees. Giant coils and generators made up the jungle of metal with a sign saying "high voltage." Denver West of Lakeview is the security officer for the tours. He said, "It's a lot higher than high voltage." "The energy from the power generators is enough to power the city of Orlando," said Birmes. He also confirmed that all funds generated by the dam are put back into the U.S. Treasury. When we entered the lobby of the dam, we were greeted with signs including information about the dam and a view of the dam's main eight generators. Everyone then loaded onto an elevator and went to the second floor. The tour proceeded to explain the inner workings of the dam. Birmes led the tour with support from guide Harold Westervelt of Bull Shoals. Machine and electrical shops were pointed out, along with the cafeteria. Guests were able to look at giant turbines, cranes and generators while Birmes explained the importance and function of each. Throughout the dam, the deep rumble of generators and millions of gallons of water could be both heard and felt. Birmes said several times when water was spotted that the dam was not leaking, but the water was coming from condensation. He also warned those walking near the big machines, "Don't lean up against any buttons or pull any levers, we don't want to see what happens." Visitors also were told about the White River, with information such as fish types and populations, why the water is so cold and many more facts. Area dignitaries also turned out to visit the local landmark. Bull Shoals Mayor Ryan Richter came out to see the inside the dam for the first time. The park superintendent, Tracy King, also came along. He said it took a lot of hard work to get the dam back open to the public. "It was just a dream for a while," said King. In all, the tour took about an hour and a half. Birmes pointed out the good the dam has done for the local economy and especially the White River. He said, "The White River was notorious for its flooding. The dam has done it's job." Pat and John Davidson, of Blue Eye, Mo., said they had been to many parks and campgrounds. "We are so impressed with this facility," Pat said. "Arkansas does a wonderful job of keeping up their parks." Tours were stopped at dams after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "This is one of the few, one of the first in the country to give dam tours," Birmes said. The maximum number in a tour is 12 people. The cost is $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 6-12, with no charge for children under the age of 6. Tours are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m and 1:30 p.m. on Sundays. On Thursdays, the tours can be made to accommodate blind or deaf persons. For more information, contact the state park at (870) 445-3629 or online at 

Baxter Bulletin Newspaper - May 24, 2008

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