This resort development went bankrupt while in the process of being built, leaving this creepy little collection of empty and disintegrating mansions near Branson, Missouri.
The ghost town has been a Missouri secret for a while, but its existence recently went viral on TikTok, where it had millions of views and left thousands of people vowing to visit soon.
We know somebody who was recently there and who took these cool photos. Here is their story:
I was idly scrolling the news app on my phone in our kitschy Route 66 themed hotel room in Eureka Springs, AR—the tail end of a weeklong trip with my girlfriend through Little Rock, Hot Springs, and the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests. I stopped at a story about a viral video featuring the decrepit remains of an abandoned resort development in Branson, MO including photos of what appeared to be a handful of spooky castle-like McMansions at the bottom of a craggy hill alongside the highway like some aborted Disneyland. They called it a “ghost-town”, but in reality, it was never a town at all, just a bubble-dream of a mega-resort that fell through with the housing crisis of 2008.
Our trip had in part been predicated on checking out ghost towns, old CCC structures and ruins, and the sites of 19th century utopian colonies. I’d been internet researching these subjects and the Branson environs in the weeks prior. When the video went viral, the story pinged all my little algorithms and Google News knew it. Branson was on our way home to St. Louis already. We had to check it out.
We’d already executed one successful Branson infiltration a couple days prior when we made a special trip to visit the Creation Experience Museum (another Branson institution with development dreams). We expected to just go in and have a few laughs and take a few pictures. There was no self-guided option, so instead we ended up on an hour long free tour through a curiosity cabinet of wishful thinking and dubious “evidence.” But, our tour guide was good natured, and encouraged debate. We even had a laugh together at the expense of flat-earthers. We left feeling like we’d made an actual human connection, confident we could take on Branson’s deep-red side with respectfulness and wit. We also left with enough young-earther joke fodder to last us the rest of the trip, even as we headed back for Branson along highways carved out of the nearly 6,000-year-old Ozarks. 😉
After spying the utterly abandoned and unfortunately named Indian Ridge Resort development from the highway, we circled back to find Indian Ridge Road, a short easement off the highway with half-finished stop lights. The sweeping entrance was four lanes wide but cut off about a hundred feet in, at tall grass and barricades. We parked where we could, careful not to block the only gate in, and waited for a young couple who was emerging from the property with what appeared to be a souvenir brick, likely from one of the goofy stone facades that wound like castle-camo around the faces of the structures below.
It was a steep descent down a well trod path into the valley where the few houses that were actually built in this 900 acres of planned resort remain along an arc of gravel road never quite formalized with concrete or asphalt. Wooded hills still cover most of the acreage which reaches down toward a cove on Table Rock Lake. After some 12 years of weather and vandalism many of the structures still stand upright with surprisingly intact roofs. Others are simply concrete foundations near piles of debris. We strolled down the doomed promenade noticing all the horrible details—hilariously high arch ways over doors, third floor dormers high over second floor windows, and of course that barely-regal castle-camo on every exterior wall.
Reaching the end of the would-be cul-de-sac we turned to make our second leg back the way we came. I noticed some people high up on the hill by the highway, and could barely make out one guy with a tripod and another dressed in tie and jacket—the local news for sure. We took a shortcut back through the would-be neighborhood to avoid them, and found a less steep ascent back to the car.
When we finally crested the hill the local Sheriff’s deputy was waiting. “Glad you’re back. The tow truck is almost here for your car.”
The deputy was gruff at first, but we were compliant, and after he ran our names from his SUV he returned our IDs and let us off with a warning, imploring us to visit some of Bransons other, more legal, tourist attractions. In the meantime, his tone had shifted toward charming comradery. He let us know that the news crew up on the hill was local channel KOLR 10 pronounced “Caller Ten” and parted with a joke about the camera adding ten pounds. I had already resigned myself to the idea of perhaps a night in jail and a fine. Leaving Branson with nothing worse than a warning and a couple tick bites was about as well as it could have gone.
Still, it wasn’t lost on me that we were simply playing our bit part in this recurring spectacle — as foil in the b-roll footage the deputy and reporter had come out there for in the first place, a story not only to discourage other would-be gawkers like us, but to allow these local officials to play their own constituent parts—carving out a little local ownership of the narrative of this juicy little internet meme making the rounds again on social media.
So, why do they still stand? Perhaps the structures remain because they’re still tied up in legal proceedings that have sent a number of the developers involved to jail, or perhaps they are still standing to help drum up some business for the realtors and developers still trying to turn this hillside into tourism gold. If they ever do, I’ll have to come back and visit.
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