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While the vision of Shadow Lake has changed many times in the last century--it remains an inseparable piece of Noel and McDonald County history, which spans over 100 years. Each decade is filled with colorful stories, and we invite you to learn a little bit about what makes Shadow Lake special

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Noel, Missouri is a small town known for its natural beauty. The breathtaking bluffs, majestic Elk River, and rolling hills are just a part of what has made this area appealing for many generations.


The local railroad crossing also brought scores of people and businesses to this rural location. Workers from Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and the Gulf Railroad decided to carve out their own corner of paradise on the intersection of the Elk River and Butler Creek right off of Main Street. They named it "The O'Joe Club House," and it quickly became the central spot for the railmen to kick back after a hard day's work.



The legend of Shadow Lake began when Marx Cheney. Cheney bought The O'Joe Club House and changed its name to Shadow Lake. This was the transformation phase that changed the fishing club to a dance hall. Cheney introduced live music of the era to Shadow's stage and the establishment quickly prospered. It was 'lit'.


Shadow Lake gained national recognition in 1938 when the 20th Century Fox movie crew of "Jesse James" comes to McDonald County to film the movie. Many of the movie's scenes were shot around McDonald County.

Shadow Lake became the hot spot of major stars of the day including Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power. Nancy Kelly, and Randolph Scott. 

One weekend, at least 30,000 people packed the streets of Noel, trying for a shot to see the talented celebrities.

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During World War II, word spread of Shadow Lake through Camp Ft. Crowder in Neosho, Missouri. This establishment was a training site for over 50,000 military workers.

Rumor has it that this infamous bar was declared off-limits to local trainees because it was such a wild and rowdy dance club. However, that didn't stop off-duty soldiers from all over the nation from taking the train down to Noel for a good time. Prohibited or not, Shadow Lake shortly became an infamous spot for soldiers to cut loose before shipping out over seas.


Shadow Lake's popularity grew in the late 1950's under new owner Joe Thrasher.

The club was immensely popular. Live bands entertained on a nightly basis. Sundays were known for the favorited afternoon tea dances. Famous entertainers such as Leon McCauiff would grace Shadow's bandstand.  

Old invoices found in old basement Haufbrau (now the location of the dance floor), suggest that at one point the bar went through 600 cases of Griesdick Brothers beer per week. In addition, the resort operated inboard speed boat trips, averaging 80 trips per day. 

Some of the establishments monumental success can be attributed to the restrictive laws of nearby states. This was when the surrounding counties in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas were designated as dry and weren't allowed to serve alcohol. This was also the era before Highway 71. When the road was built it diverted most traffic east through Pineville cutting out historic highway routes through Noel. 

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Would it be the 1980s without great parties?


Shadow Lake popularity peaks for a second time beginning its transition into the modern age in the big-hair decade. After a fire burned down the original building, Shadow Lake was rebuilt into the riverside dance club recognized today. Many locals have had a hand in helping build the current Shadow Lake, including the recently late Toosie McAnally.


A large red pavilion now covers Shadow Lake's massive open-air dance floor. The club is blessed with a stunning view of the Elk River and Noel's breathtaking bluffs. There isn't a place quite like it anywhere in the world.


With Conga lines hundreds of people long, Shadow Lake was commonly known for raging beach parties by day and for being packed wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder at night.

Shadow Lake introduces the Make-Your-Own-Bikini pageants that add to its infamous reputation. In these contests, beautiful talent from all over the Four-State area would come to model their bikinis and compete for the winning spot. 

The attraction now serves the area as a seasonal nightclub. It is popular for both locals and tourists alike. The bar runs a shuttle service to and from local campgrounds--providing safe travel to visiting partygoers. 

Shadow Lake is known being a judgement-free zone, where letting loose and a bit of silliness is encouraged. The bar regularly hosts special events.. The schedule for current and upcoming season can be found on the event page on this website.

While the vision of Shadow Lake has changed many times in the last century--it remains an inseparable piece of Noel and McDonald County history. It is considered a claim to fame for the area and has provided countless memories for its many patrons.


As the newest owners of Shadow Lake, it is our vision to restore Shadow Lake to its former glory and to throw the most legendary parties in the Four-State area and possibly the world.

In recent years, we have added an array of new  events, including our annual Paint Rave, and Foam Float Fest parties. We have also brought recognized names like Afroman and Bart Crow to grace our stage. Many exciting things are in store for this special place, and we invite you to join us on this journey.

Shadow Lake photos

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