The Historic Sagmount Resort
The area around Camp Sagmount has an extensive history dating back to the late 20’s. Surrounding areas near Saginaw and Joplin were settled for the lead mining of zinc. The first settlers in this area were for agriculture means so mining was a new skill that they were learning. Railroads connected the area to major markets and help Joplin to become the center of the “Tri-state district” and soon became the lead and zinc mining capital of the world.
During this time a Joplin businessman, J. Frank Walker, was attracted to the scenic spot and built a stone hunting lodge in 1928. The lodge was located on one of the first paved roads in the area, now known as Old Highway 71, to allow easy access. The wooded hills and pure spring waters made it very ideal for vacationers. Mr. Walker began developing his resort and in 1933 opened a 30-room hotel known as the Sagmount Resort. The resort also included a restaurant that was operated by a renowned chef, B.F. Louffer.
To help with the cooling and heating of the Inn, a five-foot airshaft was cut into a huge rock cavern below so that 60-degree air could flow into the building. This helped keep the building cool during the summer and heated during the winter. Mr. Walker also added three swimming pools and cottages to the resort. Sagmount Resort not only attracted tourist but the local residents. The resort was so popular that people had a hard time finding a parking spot on Sundays.
During World War II, the resort was closed down as Camp Crowder took over the grounds for use as additional housing for military personnel. After the close of the war the resort re-opened and had many regulars from the local residents. Many of the local residents traveled down Highway 71 from Saginaw and had to maneuver the one-lane tunnel and dangerous sharp turn by the railroad tracks. Many times, you could hear the horns honking to alert cars of approaching vehicles at this location. The resort closed down in the 1950’s when Evangelist Bill James Hargis began using the site as headquarters for his national Christian Echoes ministry.
In 1960, the Missouri Baptist Bible fellowship purchased the property for use as a retreat for Christian groups. Youth camps from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois and Nebraska have been held here. Weekend retreats for couples, men & women, one-day camps and weddings have been held at the camp. The camp schedule will begin the Memorial Day week.