Lake History

Lake Viking opened in 1967, as a private 630-acre man-made lake with excellent fishing, lots of wildlife, water skiing, boating and swimming. It’s a great place to live! Lake Viking is just an hour northeast of Kansas City  (or an hour east of St. Joseph on U.S. Highway 36, then turn north) on I-35 to Exit #68.

The entire community encompasses 2,300 acres of hilly, tree-covered land. The lake itself is 630 acres of clean, clear water, the center of a large natural watershed. It is referred to as an “Ozark-type lake,” surrounded by hills and many natural lake fingers or coves. The lake ranges to a depth of over 70 feet. There are 19 miles of maintained shore line, most of which is protected by rock to eliminate erosion.

Lake Viking is owned entirely by private property owners. There is no commercial development company. There are approximately 1,500 active lot owners. The market for property is a traditional market where private owners offer their property for sale to prospective buyers, with or without the involvement of real estate brokers.

Water-front homes for sale starting at $250,000 up to $1,000,000 or more and waterfront lots starting at $15,000 up to $200,000 or more. We have homes off the water starting under $100,000 and lots starting at less than $1,000.

All property owners are a part of the Viking Valley Association and pay membership dues and assessments based on the number of lots owned. Dues are set by the Covenants and Restrictions. Assessments are approved annually by the membership.

Members in good standing elect a Board of Directors which establishes policy and directs the operation of the community. The association employs a full time lake manager and staff of clerical, maintenance and security personnel. Policy is controlled by existing covenants, restrictions and by-laws.

We welcome your inquiries.  Come visit us any time. We think you’ll agree that Lake Viking is lake living …the better way!


50th Anniversary Book

Troy Lesan produced this great book full of memories and information about our beautiful lake. Stop by the office to get a print copy or click on the link below to view the book (large .pdf file, may download slowly):

Lake Viking (1967-2017)

40th Anniversary Book

Troy Lesan produced this great book full of memories and information about our beautiful lake. Stop by the office to get a print copy or click on the link below to view the book (large .pdf file, may download slowly):

Lake Viking (1967-2007)

About the Viking Boat at the lake’s entrance…

The challenge: Lake Viking needed to build an authentic and realistic replica of an ancient Viking Ship, and, in so doing, capture the powerful and mythical aura surrounding the fearsome, dragon adorned vessels of these ancient Nordic Warriors. The solution: Hire the Amish. Even if the Amish were not well versed in dragons and sea-faring ways, they were widely acclaimed as expert carpenters and craftsmen.

The decision to hire Monroe Gingrich and his carpenters to build the Viking Ship that sets anchored at the main entrance… was a good one. Our Viking Ship was built in August of 1967 and has endured, over the years, as a widely recognized and beloved symbol of Lake Viking.

The stone masonry foundation of the Lake Viking Ship was built by Don Fetters. Mr. Fetters also built the stone masonry fireplace at the community building. The black metal objects on either side of the boat and atop the stone structure are actually burners from which propane flames once illuminated the ship at night.

The flag and its spotlight were added in 1971. A time capsule was buried at the foot of the ship in 2000.


Our lake’s history, briefly speaking…

There have been many favorable circumstances contributing to the tremendous growth of Lake Viking during its first 40 years. The initial development and construction of Lake Viking by Development Services Incorporated (DSI).

By all accounts, DSI was a highly reputable company with extensive experience in developing recreational lake properties. DSI had already developed at least 45 lake properties by 1967, when the company first came to the attention of Joe Snyder, owner of Gallatin Publishing Company.

An article written in the Feb. 16, 1967, edition of the Snyder’s weekly newspaper, the Gallatin North Missourian, reports the following: “Development Services Incorporated is headed by Kenneth F. Gorman …who has been in the development business since 1935. He is considered the “dean” of the development business.

“The company is the first to build large privately owned lakes on a major scale …and is the largest in operation today. They have never been involved in a lawsuit and have always kept promises.”

DSI proved to be highly capable in all aspects of Lake Viking’s development. The company was equally knowledgeable about engineering and sales and marketing. Earlier dreams of lake projects in the area had evaporated because of land purchases. However, immediately after DSI took the project, the firm got together with landowners and, by Jan. 16, 1967, had arranged for 2,500 acres needed for Lake Viking.

Next, DSI hired the Robert Kimball Engineering Company to design and survey the lake. Contractors hired were George Bennett, Scott Gibson, and Gibbs Construction. Each of these companies was among the best in their respective areas of expertise. Work began immediately with the lake floor being cleared of trees. Next, construction of the dam began. Construction of the community building, the airport, beaches, and campgrounds also commenced in 1967.

Once the engineering and construction got off to a start, DSI began a sales and marketing campaign. The marketing effort ran like clockwork. Lots were offered for sale a section (40 or 50 lots) at a time. Thus, the announcement of each additional section opened up for sale became an eagerly anticipated event.

Another example of DSI maintaining their priorities was found in how the lots were offered. First, DSI allowed the 23 landowners, who had been so cooperative, to chose a waterfront lot. Next, lots were offered for sale to citizens of Daviess County before being opened up for sale to the general public.

In addition, DSI built the lake’s water system and shepherded the water facility through early growth until it was finally sold to the Association in 1976.

When ownership of the lake infrastructure was transferred from DSI to the Viking Valley Association, DSI even left a cash amount per each lot, which, in effect, served as the first year’s annual dues.
By all accounts, DSI was a first-class operation.

  • Lake Viking is a 630 acre lake
  • Lake Viking impounds water from Big Creek which is a tributary to the Grand River
  • Lake Viking drains a watershed of 9,203 acres (14.3 sq. miles) of land
  • Lake Viking has 19 miles of shoreline and 25 miles of good roads
  • Lake Viking has 2504 total lots
  • 661 waterfront lots
  • 1,585 tier lots
  • 164 mobile home lots
  • 68 air-strip lots
  • 17 commercial lots
  • 19 community areas
  • 2 campgrounds
  • 2 swimming beaches

Building the dam…

The construction of Lake Viking’s dam was not achieved without delay, cost over-runs, and adversity. Although work started in 1967, high water from Big Creek washed away numerous construction efforts. By Spring of 1968, work was still going on.

George Bennett was the President of the Construction Company bearing his name. Bennett Construction had built many dams and held contracts for some of the biggest construction jobs in the area including those from the Army Corps of Engineers. In May of 1968, George Bennett passed away at his home in Kansas City, before his company completed the Lake Viking dam. His son, George “Ed” Bennett Jr. took control of the company, and that same month, heavy equipment crews were working 12-hour days and weekends in order to get the dam built.

First, the base of the dam was dug out with heavy equipment and trenched down to bedrock. This trench was lined with a core of clay which was built up into a berm. The clay core was then faced with poured concrete and topped by the spillway which emptied into the concrete outlet that is presently situated at the northwest corner.

Next was rip-rap and 500,000 cubic yards of dirt – all continuously compacted with the heavy equipment used in the construction. Finally the road was built along the top of the dam.
In the end, the cost of the dam and length of time taken for its construction more than doubled original projections. This, in itself, was a testimonial to the professionalism of DSI. The Lake Viking dam was the biggest they had built, and the company refused to take short cuts or allow adversity to dissuade them from doing the job right.

  • The dam at Lake Viking is 1450 feet long, 85 feet high, with a 580 foot width at the base and a 20 foot width at the top.
  • The dam was keyed into solid rock at each end. It has a 3-1/2 to 1 slope on the upstream side and a slope of 2-1/4 to 1 on the downstream side.

— Reprinted from “Lake Viking 1967-2007: Celebrating 40 Years of Progress” written by Troy Lesan:


40th Anniversary Celebration (2007)