The Dewey Short Visitor Center occupies a striking building on the shore of Table Rock Lake and is a good destination for families looking for free things to do, especially when combined with the free fish hatchery nearby.
The first thing you notice upon entering is unobstructed views of the lake straight ahead through soaring windows. If you want, you can go outside (there’s also an upstairs deck), but one of the best things to do at the center is to watch the 22-minute film Taming of the White River, which covers the history of early settlers, lumber mills, and periodic floods that destroyed homes, crops and businesses and eventually led to dams being built along the White River. You’ll see the massive work involved in constructing Table Rock Dam in the 1950s (500 workers were involved).
There are also exhibits, touch screens and interactive displays pertaining to the natural history of the area, local flora and fauna (including bass and trout, as well an invasive species like feral hogs and zebra mussels), the Corps of Engineers, water safety, and more. It’s interesting to note that the visitor center was built with energy-saving measures, including low-flush toilets and geothermal heating and cooling systems. It also provides free Wi-Fi access.