The History of Kimberling City
Kimberling City’s custom road signs are extra-large welcomes to town as residents and visitors approach from the north and south on Mo. 13. The signs may be an indicator of the energy level in Kimberling City, where the population grew more than 40 percent in the last decade of the 1900s.
Founded in 1959 by Springfield businessman John Q. Hammons, this lakeside town is a boater’s paradise with large marinas, boat and equipment dealers and miles and miles of Table Rock Lake stretching out from the shores. Hammons built the first business building which is part of Kimberling City Shopping Center. More business buildings and residential areas followed quickly. A golf course, bowling lanes, churches, resorts and many other small businesses were added in the 1960s. The post office opened in 1963, according to the Stone County Historical Society.
Real estate offices sprang up around Kimberling City and brought families and retirees to town and outlying neighborhoods. Census figures were unavailable for the town until 1980, when 1,285 residents were counted. By 1990, there were 1,590 residents. In 2000, Kimberling City is the largest town in Stone County with 2,253 residents. The five-mile corridor along Mo. 13 from Branson West to Kimberling City is by far the densest commercial area in Stone County. With the incorporated commercial area of Stoneridge located between the two cities, this area contains the greatest concentration of retail goods, medical and other services. Lake roads along the Mo. 13 corridor between Kimberling City and Branson West contain the most highly concentrated residential population. An estimated 8,000 people live between the two communities, and most of them live in unincorporated areas.
Kimberling City was a recognizable location long before it became an official town in 1959. It was named for William Kimberling, who built a current-operated ferry to carry the area’s pioneers and Wilderness Road travelers across the White River until the old Kimberling Bridge was built in 1922. The White River occasionally flooded the area, and the 1922 bridge was washed out twice. A new bridge almost 1,900 feet in length was constructed above the old bridge as Table Rock Dam was erected in the late 1950s, and the old bridge was submerged as the lake filled.