1964 was a topsy turvy year for the country, but in the heartland of the nation, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks was still a quiet, largely undeveloped area just beginning to blossom as a vacation destination, the Lake News of Camdenton reported.

Amidst the seemingly uncertain times, people were still chasing the American Dream. A new campground was taking shape in a quiet cove at the 10 mile marker — the dream of an extended family from northern Illinois and Indiana.

Now 102 years old, co-founder Edith “Curly” Venzke can still recall those days when she drove a dump truck and helped clear and excavate the land to bring Deer Valley Park to life.

At the age of 51, she and husband Elmer and her brother Ken and his wife Nell bought the property in 1963 but started developing the land in 1964. After visiting Kentucky Lake, it was Ken’s dream to open a campground at a lake. He found the Deer Valley property — which was nothing then, says Curly, but a swamp surrounded by a lot of trees. There was little flat ground to be found.

In 1965, they opened for business and had their first campers — three groups in total — and from there it “grew and grew and grew,” says Curly.

From the beginning, it was a family place — a place for all generations to come together in fun.

Even now, later generations of many families from the early days still weekend and vacation at Deer Valley campground.

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