Bass Pro founder plans lodge by Missouri sinkhole site

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The founder of a wilderness-themed retail giant is planning a new lodge adjacent to a well-known Missouri sinkhole.

Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris announced his plans Tuesday to build a new Top of the Rock Lodge. The lodge would be next to and overlooking the famous sinkhole that opened in 2015 at Branson's Top of the Rock Golf Course, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

The sinkhole formed on a portion of the driving range, and Morris decided to excavate it instead of filling it in. He has excavated the sinkhole 200 feet (61 meters) deep so far and has formally named it the "Cathedral of Nature."

The lodge will be a wilderness resort with "soaring timber-and-stone-clad structure (that) will sit directly on the edge of" the sinkhole, according to a news release from Morris.

The lodge will have more than 100 rooms, some with a view of the sinkhole's limestone spires.

"Our guests consistently tell us visiting Top of the Rock is one of the best parts of their Big Cedar Lodge experience," the release said. "This is a very special place and we couldn't be more excited to further

immerse people in the spectacular natural beauty and genuine Ozarks hospitality found here."
Morris founded the nearby Big Cedar Lodge as a fishing resort decades ago, and has continued developing the area with outdoor-related amenities.

Top of the Rock Lodge amenities will include an onsite spa, fitness center and a covered wooden bridge to connect guests to the Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve.

Lodge construction is expected to begin this summer. Morris didn't provide a cost estimate for the project.

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