Rockbridge resort bustles again after direct hit by 2017 flood
Although Ozark County’s historic flood in late April 2017 damaged Rockbridge Rainbow Trout Ranch in a significant way, the resort only paused in its usual operations and was quickly back up and running. Now, a year later, it’s business as usual at the tucked-away resort, which got its start in 1954.
“We had over 400 people served in the dining room yesterday,” assistant office manager Sirena Melton told the Times Monday, referring to the resort’s Mother’s Day brunch.
Melton said when Spring Creek overflowed its banks a year ago and sent torrents of water rushing down the lower road of the resort, the water also reached the ceiling of the Grist Mill Club, a bar in the first floor of the historic Rockbridge grist mill. The creek’s swift current swept away the bar’s beer cooler (which employees eventually found downstream), as well as a refrigerator that was never recovered, barstools and other decor and furniture. The resort’s trails, used for hiking and horseback riding, were covered with downed limbs and debris. The flood also swept into the basement of the resort’s main lodge, where water stood 3 to 4 feet deep.
Also, most of the resort’s most prized commodity, its rainbow trout, were swept away.
“We lost about 300,000 trout in the flood,” Melton said. “A lot were babies that were in the hatchery, but there were also a lot of large adult trout that were gone too.”
Melton said employees attempted to retrieve as many trout as they could by floating downstream and catching the fish with a dip net, but not many were saved.
Rockbridge started to rebuild and repair soon after the flood, and damaged lodging units were all restored and ready for guests by June 2017. The grist mill, which received the most damage, took a bit longer to restore, but the resort opened the stream-side bar for a short time last fall, although it continued to show some damage that has now been mostly repaired. The trails were cleared, and the hatchery was restocked.
“We’re pretty much back up and running now the same as we were before the flood happened,” Melton said. “Last Saturday we had over 700 trout caught that day alone, and a lot of the fish are bigger than normal. They are averaging about 2.5-pounds each.”
For more information about the resort, visit rockbridgemo.com or call 417-679-3619.