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(800) 874-8423 or email jimmy@ or text (417) 451-3798

VOL. 46, NO. 1

JUNE 2018

Groups work to stabilize Elk River stream bank


By Mattie Link he Elk River Basin is an ecologically and economically significant drainage in southwest Missouri. Unfortunately, like other river basins in the state, stream bank erosion impacts its waters, resulting in sedimentation and nutrient pollution, loss of in-stream habitat, and degradation of water quality and recreation opportunities for local communities. At a site on the lower end of Elk River in Noel, Mo., in McDonald County, stream bank erosion has resulted in around 7.5 acres of land, totaling 170,000 tons of soil lost

Handmade canoe & paddles G

By Mattie Link rowing up in Missouri, Gary Coursey has done a lot of canoeing throughout his life. He mostly does canoes in the lakes that surround Bolivar and Buffalo, about 30 minutes away from his home and with his wife and four daughters. “I decided to start making beavertail wood paddles and it kind of progressed from there. I really wanted to build my own canoe to go with my paddles,” said Coursey. Coursey has made several beavertail paddles for canoeing and two kayak paddles. He even started his own business — Halfway Paddle Company & More — for his paddles and canoe. “It’s amazing the amount of effort you can put into making a wood paddle,” he said. “It’s hard to describe, it just takes a lot less work. The paddles work well on the

in the past 20 years. The Nature Conservancy of Missouri along with several local landowners and support by Tyson Foods Inc., and the Missouri Department of Nat-

Please see STREAM, 14

Prison donates mural to Ozark Riverways


Missouri man’s #1 hobby

zark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) Superintendent Larry Johnson was recently invited to visit the South Central Correctional Center, at Licking, to receive a mural painting that features scenes from the ONSR. The mural was a surprise donation to the National Park Service, hand-painted by one

inmate at the correctional facility.! The artwork, which measures approximately seven feet tall by nine feet wide, was created using acrylic paints on heavy art paper and coated with acrylic spray to protect it while on display. It depicts beautiful imagery of Alley Spring, Big Spring, Please see MURAL, 15

lake and we have tried them on the river, too.” Coursey grew up in the construction business, but is now a tile and hardwood installer and has been running his own business for 20 years.

Please see CANOE, 15 ONSR Superintendent Larry Johnson with one of the inmates at the South Central Correctional Center who painted the mural in honor of the ONSR.

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Page 2 • June 2018

Don’t scoff, give that creek a try


t’s often said we can’t see what’s right in front of us, and that certainly rings true for sportsmen. We always have our eye on the bigger picture and overlook the small things. The Ozarks are interlaced with small streams, some no bigger than 15 feet or so wide and we wouldn’t dare waste a day’s time on them. Most anywhere you go you cross small bridges with little streams running underneath and you do no more than give them a glance, never thinking they could possibly hold fish, let alone a day of fun. Oh, maybe let the kids splash around in them and cool off but that’s the best they have to offer. There was one such small stream that a buddy and I passed over for probably 20 years going back and Roger Smith forth to our spring ———— turkey hunting spot. We never paid it no mind as we were always eyeing up the farm ponds along the way and longing to wet a line in those. Eventually the subject arose about that little creek that we may just have to fish it one day, but it was more in jest than seriousness. Year after year we’d cross that creek, occasionally remarking how we may just have to fish it one day but it certainly wasn’t on our to-do list. Finally, one spring I told my friend the night before to at least throw a couple rods in the car and a couple beetle spins, as if we had no luck turkey hunting maybe we’d at least find a small group of perch to add excitement to our day. So after that mornings hunt we parked at the bridge and made our way down to the creek. With great pessimism, I might add, we entered the shallow stream. The water was cold and we questioned what we were even doing. Where we started the water was maybe 12 inches deep and didn’t hold much promise. We normally wade upstream so as not to send a cloud of mud out before us, but looking upstream it didn’t look like it offered much holdings as it grew narrower, so we decided to head downstream anyway. We finally hit a hole where the water

deepened to maybe a whole 2 feet. I tossed the beetle spin downstream and reeled it along the bank. Much to my surprise I felt a sudden tug. In my mind I was thinking at least there were some perch here when all of the sudden the top water exploded and I saw that bronze back of a smallmouth. I wrestled him in and he was a 15inch fish, 3 inches over the legal minimum to keep. I wrestled with the idea, then figured it was a fluke so I gently removed the hook and turned him loose. But our spirits had lifted, as we trudged on along the gravel bottom we started catching more and more fish. Some bluegill, some redear but a plethora of smallmouth. My buddy even got ahold of a small bullhead. We were basically dumbfounded as we had never found a hole quite waste deep. As we rounded a bend we saw a farmer working a field right along the creek and we figured we may be in for a tongue lashing as we had stumbled onto his property. This stream didn’t appear to be big enough to be navigable, so under law we really shouldn’t be there. The old farmer stopped his plowing and met us at the bank’s edge. He was as surprised as we were. He stated he had never saw anyone fishing that creek before. I asked him if we were trespassing and he replied the Good Lord made that water flow through there, it wasn’t under his control. So we struck up a conversation and explained how we had passed over it for so many years and finally decided to give it a try. He sort of chuckled and said you fella’s got a surprise didn’t you? He explained how he brought his grandchildren down every summer with a can of worms and let them have their fun. We asked him the name of the stream and he replied he wasn’t even sure it had a proper name, but the locals called

it Greasy Creek. After a little more conversation we assured him we would release anything we caught, so his grandchildren and theirs would always have a fishing hole, and then he bid us a good day. The rest of the trip home that little creek was the topic of discussion along with how many others we drove over every day without giving them a thought of stopping to fish. It seems the Ozarks have many a hidden surprise. So from that day forward I started carrying a rod and reel in the Jeep along with a small selection of tackle that could be clipped onto a belt loop. Among the years I’ve stopped when I had extra time and tried my hand at various small streams. Some produced, some didn’t, but that idea of unsureness

always kept me excited. And, on occasion, I’ve ran across a few landowners who weren’t quite as understanding as that first gentleman but nothing ever got too serious, and I’ve had a lot of fun with those places. So, the next time you cross over a bridge maybe 2 or 3 car lengths and glance down at a small creek sparkling as it winds downstream, don’t scoff at the idea of giving it a go. And I’d suggest keeping at least a lightweight rig in your vehicle along with some lightweight tackle and stop every now and then and try your hand at one. You may just stumble onto one of those hidden surprises just as we had. (Roger Smith lives in Bonne Terre, Mo., and can be reached at n0uss@

June 2018 • Page 3

Guidelines put in place for the safety of floaters


rystal-clear spring-fed waters, along with gravel and sandbars, attract tens of thousands of visitors to Missouri’s streams. This summer looks to be no different, especially as May saw some unusually high temperatures. To beat the heat, there’s nothing like a great float trip with family, friends, or simply riding solo. Yet, a float trip can be quickly ruined when people do not follow the rules of the waterways. Kayla Harper has spent her life enjoying all that Missouri streams have to offer, but she’s become frustrated in recent years with the increased levels of trash and hazards found in and near streams. “I’ve been on more float trips than I can count between my childhood and now,” Kayla shared. “I can say there’s Michelle Turner been an increase in ———— trash. People just don’t seem to care. This is particularly true near the resorts that are known for party floats.” Kayla doesn’t just view the trash as an eyesore; she’s seen it cause a lot of problems. “I’ve seen people cut by broken glass in the river. It’s a huge safety issue. When you’re in the river, you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if you’re going to step on a piece of glass,” Kayla added. Due to issues like this, the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division has published guidelines for people who intend to float Missouri’s streams. One such area they touch upon is the use of glass on the waterways and banks. The document states, “No one

may have or use glass containers for beverages within a vessel.” Kate Mills is another individual who has a lifelong love for floating Missouri’s waterways, and she agrees with this rule for many reasons. “It’s important to have laws like these in place. It not only helps the wildlife, but anyone who wants to float or swim safely,” said Kate. “There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy a relaxing day on the river and being worried about stepping on glass and getting cut. Worse yet, having to wade through trash. I want to enjoy the river, not be frustrated by it.” Even with rules in place, people like Kate have seen them broken all too often. “It’s heartbreaking because it’s not hard to clean up after yourself. Also, almost all of the beverages people want to drink on a float trip come in nonglass options. You can have a good time without sneaking glass onto the rivers,” Kate added.

The solution that Kate alludes to is simple: keep your float trip glass-free. Better yet, one can also follow the suggestion made by the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division and “take your trash with you after your float.” After Gary Rice moved to Missouri from California, he fell in love with our waterways and enjoys them often. Gary agrees with the “packing out what you pack in” philosophy wholeheartedly. Yet, he’s expanded it to include picking up the trash left by other people. “Myself and many others who enjoy the outdoors have adopted the ‘take some back with you’ attitude,” Gary explained. “Sometimes I will arrive at a site and find litter left by previous visitors. It takes very little trash to spoil any location. “That said, picking up a little trash when you find it is easy and can have a

profound effect. Practicing the habit of taking a little with you can help encourage those around you to do the same.” Gary, Kate, Kayla, and all of us at the River Hills Traveler are all hopeful that people will realize that guidelines for floating were made to make the experience safe and enjoyable for all who hit the steams in Missouri. As Gary added, “I know we have all seen rules ignored, but the intention here is for the good of the greatest number of people. So, get out on the water and enjoy. I’ll see you out there.” If you would like more information about glass containers and littering on Missouri’s waterways, simply do an online Google search for the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division. That will lead you to their website where you can research the various guidelines and safety tips that they have to offer. (Michelle Turner lives in Union, Mo.)

Page 4 • June 2018

New boardwalk & observation deck on the Little Sac


new boardwalk and elevated observation deck along the Little Sac River, near the output of Indian Spring, will allow guests visiting Fantastic Caverns another opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the Ozarks’ scenery, this time above ground. The observation deck and boardwalk front 175 feet of the Little Sac River’s southern bank. Over two miles of lumber and more than 15,000 nuts, bolts, screws and anchors were used in the construction. The triangularshaped observation Jimmy Sexton deck overlooks In———— dian Spring and its Journey On convergence with the Little Sac River. The boardwalk begins at the river’s edge where Fantastic Caverns’ Canyon Trail ends. The trail, which starts near the visitor’s center and parking lot, passes through a collapsed cave system and into the valley directly beneath the cave’s entrance and exit. Horseshoe pitches are located in the valley adjacent to the boardwalk as another entertainment option for cave guests looking to connect with nature. The boardwalk and observation deck provide great opportunities for relaxing, birding and wildlife viewing. Fantastic Caverns is a part of the Great Missouri Birding Trail and nu-

merous bird species can be spotted on the grounds and near the Little Sac River. ——— The Springfield and Branson chapters of the Missouri Trout Fishermen’s Association will hold their second annual Fly Fishing Exposition on July 2728. It will be a celebration of everything fly fishing held in one of the premier trout fishing areas of the Ozarks — Branson. The venue is the Branson-Hollister Lions Club Community Center at 1015 E. State Highway 76, approximately one mile east after you cross the bridge over Lake Taneycomo from the Landing Boulevard. “We expect to have approximately 63 flytiers demonstrating their skills, talk-

ing about flies, and sharing tying tips,” said Dennis Stead, on of the organizers of the event. “We will have nearly 25 vendors and factory reps on hand to show you their products and make you a deal. We will raffle and auction off some fine tackle, nets, boots and waders, tackle bags, fly tying stations, artwork, signature flies, and more.” Adults can learn from fly casting experts demonstrating their skills in a casting pool. On Saturday, July 28, there will be a did’s fishing event for children 15 and under at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery below the Table Rock Dam from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.! A limited number of rods will be available, but feel free to bring your own.!Mentors will be on hand to assist the kids. ——— The Powder Mill River Access on the Current River along Highway 106 is temporarily closed to vehicles due to a washout of the paved road near the access point.! This closure does not affect walk-in use of the river access, which remains open to foot traffic.! ! The Powder Mill River Access was badly damaged during the April 2017 flood, which also destroyed the adjacent Powder Mill Campground.! Even though the flood caused the Powder Mill Spring Branch to change course and flow across the paved road on its way to the Current River, the road was still passable by vehicles

I think back on those float trips... and smile


s a young man in college I had the opportunity of canoeing a section of the Buffalo River in Arkansas on two occasions with friends, a few of whom were there both times. The memories linger with me. At first I didn’t recall where we put in, or exactly what section of the river we paddled because it was many years ago and I wasn’t the one who made the arrangements on either occasion, as I was just there for the ride, as it were. Both times we pulled off next to a narrow tributary stream and walked up a hollow a short Wes Franklin distance to a small, ———— picturesque waterNative Ozarker fall. In my youthful naivety I thought it something of a hidden jewel, until years later I saw on social media photos of various people I knew at the same waterfall so I guess it wasn’t so hidden after all. In fact, as I also found out much later, it’s actually a fairly well-known tour stop. Now, let me just say, it is NOT the big one at Hemmed-in-Hollow, which at 209 feet tall is said to be the biggest waterfall between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. I have no earthly idea why we didn’t stop at that one either time, but we didn’t or I would have remembered. The little six-foot or so waterfall – if it has a name, I don’t know it – that we DID stop for is about eight miles down river from Ponca, on the left side.

We parked the canoes at the mouth of the tributary branch and hiked up just a short way to the fall, which is nestled in the forest. It’s a beautiful spot, and one that anyone can appreciate for its natural wonder. On the first trip I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it, I’m afraid, being the sorry victim of some unrequited love, and it only made me a little sad that such a lovely spot should be wasted for the fact that “she” wasn’t there to enjoy it with me, and never would be. I know, I know, but what can I say? I was about as starry-eyed, and brokenhearted, as any ol’ Shakespearean — or country song — character in the same situation. Kinda makes me cringe a little now, and I’d like to go back and kick that boy’s hind-end and tell him a thing or two. From there we most likely canoed down to Kyle’s Landing and camped. The trip from Ponca to Kyle’s Landing is 11 miles. As I recall, the water moved pretty fast in places. In fact, on one of those trips we got caught in a swift-moving current near a bank and, getting tangled in some low+hanging tree branches, we flipped the canoe. Downstream we pulled off and built a big fire to dry our wet clothes a little. Being springtime it was rather chilly and we were shivering for a while. It was at that site that the little brother of one of my friends picked up a big sycamore stick for some reason and took it along when we continued on our way. At the campsite, another friend carved a devilish-looking cat’s head at the top of the stick and we later all

carved our names into the wood. I kept that memento for several years, but don’t know whatever happened to it. On the other trip yet another friend had two younger brothers who reminded me of a comedy act the way they were always bickering with each other. For some reason they got paired in the same canoe, which was probably a mistake. Not long after they first set out the canoe they were in got turned around, and then around again in a circle, all while they yelled and fussed at each other as the canoe went round and round. I laughed until I cried, which probably made them mad at me as well as each other, but I wasn’t the only one laughing for sure. Although the water moved fast in spots, as I said, most of it was smooth going, even for an inexperienced paddler such as myself. One more thing I’ll say about that section of the Buffalo River is that it appeared to be family-friendly. We weren’t there to party and I don’t recall seeing any other rowdy revelers on the river, either. I think back on those times of 15 years ago or better and smile. (Wes Franklin!can be reached by email at, or by USPS mail at 12161 Norway Road, Neosho, MO 64850.)

On the Cover Float trips are a huge part of summer for many Missourians and others flocking to the Show-Me State to enjoy our beautiful waterways.

using the river access.! Since that time, however, the constant flow of the spring branch and two additional floods have eroded the pavement and cut into the roadway base. This has caused a section of pavement to collapse and wash out, creating a significant hazard for vehicles. Because the roadway is now impassable and unsafe for vehicle travel, barricades have been placed across the road near the closed Powder Mill restroom facility. There is no estimate for how long it will take to correct this safety hazard and reopen the road to the access point.! The channel of the spring branch will need to be evaluated to determine the best way to divert it from the road and then the roadway repairs will be completed.! River users can still walk to the Powder Mill access point from the parking area near the closed restroom to use the gravel bar, or to carry their gear for floating. Vehicles can continue to use the parking lot near the trailhead for the Ozark Trail at the Powder Mill Center.! In addition, park managers are working to improve an alternate access point directly across the river near the old Owls Bend School for vehicle access.! This will provide a launch point for jet boats and floaters.! !! (Jimmy Sexton is owner and publisher of the River Hills Traveler. He can be reached at (800) 874-8423, ext. 1, or

River Hills Traveler 212 E. Main St., Neosho, MO 64850 Phone & Fax: 800-874-8423 Email: jimmy@riverhillstraveler. com Owner & Publisher Jimmy Sexton Managing Editor Madeleine Link Circulation Manager Amanda Harvel Staff Writers Wes Franklin • Mike Roux Bill Wakefield • Bill Oder Tom Boydston • Judy Smith Michelle Turner • Dana Sturgeon Chuck Smick • Bill Hoagland Richard Whiteside • Roger Smith Advertising Jimmy Sexton & Madeleine Link

River Hills Traveler, established in 1973, is published monthly by Sexton Media Group and Traveler Publishing Company at 212 E. Main St., Neosho, MO 64850. Postmaster: Send change of address notices to: River Hills Traveler, 212 E. Main St., Neosho, MO 64850. Subscription prices: $22 per year; 2 years, $40. Back issues available up to one year from publication, $5 plus sales tax & shipping. COPYRIGHT © 2018 No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written permission of the publisher of the River Hills Traveler or his duly appointed agent. The publisher reserves the right to reject any advertising or editorial submission for any reason.

June 2018 • Page 5


Ozark hickory baskets


asket-making was a pioneer necessity that became a commodity for early souvenir shops. This selection of handmade baskets of split hickory is not only beautifully made, the composition of the photograph and its technical qualities are excellent. Ozark crafts had some reinforcement from benevolent institutions and government programs, but it was much less and more sporadic than it was for Appalachian craft industries. The crafts business seems to have revolved more around roadside souvenir shops, with some encouragement from School of the Ozarks and later WPA programs. Silver Dollar City was an early supporter of the original souvenir-shop products and provided an environment where people could see these and other traditional handmade items being fabricated.! Handmade baskets are still produced but they join additional arts & crafts technologies like glassblowing, woodcarving and pottery making. An original Ozarks craft centered in Hollister was the making of concrete yard ornaments and flowerpots decorated with drip paint, invented by Harold Horine. (This feature is courtesy of Leland and Crystal Payton at Lens & Pen Press, publishers of all-color books on the Ozarks. Their new book, James Fork of the White, was published in 2017. Some pages from this book can be seen on Their earlier river book, Damming the Osage, can be at seen From the June archives of the River Hills Traveler:

5 years ago • An Ozarks stream, a kayak or canoe, and a fishing pole pretty well paint a good picture of me and one of my favorite outdoor activities. One day last summer I made a quick call to Bass’ River Resort to line up a shuttle, loaded the truck with two kayaks and paddles, packed a lunch and drinks that would not need a cooler, and put together a bag of post-float clothes and towels. (Greg “Rudi” Rudolf) • With the coming of spring, many outdoor lovers look forward to the first float of the year. My friend Rich and I have floated most of the Big River except the southern stretches. The hassle of jogging cars and leaving them in remote areas led us to try Steve Anderson at Cherokee Landing. Rich made our reservations and on April 5, we drove one car to Bonne Terre, to where U.S. 67 first crosses the Big on your way south. Steve ran us down to the Highway K bridge to start a six-mile float. You would have trouble getting to your own car back in there much less leaving it while you float. (Bill Janis) 10 years ago • Current River dreams include warm temperatures, gentle breezes, clear water and a bunch of big female bass waiting in the shallows. The first day of May should have had all of these characteristics, but it didn’t. Rains still had the river a foot or two above normal with a distinct tint to the water. The gentle wind that day blew 20 to 25 mph gusting up to 35. Warm temperatures were substituted with cool winds. Bass were still in pre-spawn condi-

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1915 — "Hand Made Baskets Shadowrock Basket Shop Forsyth MO"


“Yes. Aren’t they pretty?’’ “Can I take some to Theresa?” he asks. “Let’s leave them, son and bring her here to see them.” (Keith Sutton) • When I began cleaning the crappie, I was surprised and a little dismayed that I had put a couple that size in the livewell. Most of the 28 crappie were right at 10 inches. A couple were about 12, a few were eight and a couple, to my dismay, were only six or seven inches. (Bob Todd)

tions. Did that put a damper on our dreams for the day? Absolutely not! (Tim Huffman) • The new Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Shannon County celebrates the wonder and beauty of the Ozark and “looks not only at our past, but also to our future,” said Missouri Conservation Department Director John Hoskins at the grand opening of the 456acre complex last month. Completion of the center finishes a project started more than 10 years ago by the Missouri Forest Heritage Center. The group had gathered equipment and raised money to cover erection of a structure on U.S. Forest Service land. Progress lagged until an arrangement was worked out to transfer the property to the Missouri Conservation Department, which allocated funds to build an education center with an emphasis on the history of the Ozark timber history. (Emery Styron)

20 years ago • Father’s Day is a time to give special thanks to your dad for the love and dedication he has given you throughout the years. I am very fortunate to have a father who took the time out of a very busy schedule to take me on many outdoor adventures with him. (Tony Kalna, Jr.) • Like most current efforts involved in the Internet, it is a part-time effort. So don’t expect to find something that is highly polished and complete. At the same time, know that this is to be a dynamic site and won’t ever be complete. It will be changing regularly (Bob Todd)

15 years ago • From the top of the hickory behind our house, a summer tanager sings. “Listen, Matthew. Do you hear the bird?” “Yes, Dad” “Can you see it?” “Yes, it’s red. It sings pretty.” “That’s why they’re called songbirds, son. They sing such beautiful songs.” In a corner of our yard, beneath a trio of small pines, black-eyed susan’s bloom in autumn. “Come here, Zachary. Let me show you something.” “Flowers,” he says.

30 years ago • It was more than 15 years since I’d been on this stretch of the St. Francois River and then, we’d just floated through in the morning to our take out after a four-day float. So to find a really big, deep, bluff hole just a short ways up the river surprised me. If it had registered in memory back then, the memory had since been erased. We caught two keepers there, largemouths that fell victim to a deep diving lure in a deep eddy. A good start for a morning when I’d feared scenery would be our only reward for the day. (Bob Todd)

• The admission fee program at Mingo and other national wildlife refuges seems to be one of those things involving a worthy objective. Under a newly effective federal law, there is a basic entrance fee of $2 per car to get into Mingo National Wildlife Refuge near Puxico. The purpose of the fee is to raise funds to protect wetlands elsewhere in the U.S. But, there are things that already do serve as a “pass” to the refuge. A federal duck stamp, for instance, is a pass. So is a Golden Eagle Passport. So we’re led to believe, people who’ve been using the refuge without also buying a duck stamp will now have to be kicking in for wetland protection, too. (Bob Todd) 40 years ago • You may think Big Oak Tree State Park is just a place with some big oak trees. It is that. In fact, there are currently 17 state record trees in the park — oaks as well as other species. But the park also has some surprises in store for bass and crappie fishermen and for some bird watchers. For a more casual outing, Big Oak forms a nucleus of a tour of the back country of the Missouri bootheel. To get to Big Oak Tree State Park, most folks take Highway 80 east from I-55 south of Sikeston. At East Prairie, they take Highway 102 south to where it terminates in the park. (Bob Todd) • It was the bloodiest battle ever recorded in Missouri. In fact, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire Civil War. What’s more, it made little military sense for the battle to even take place, and still less sense that the Confederates should have lost. (Bob Todd) (compiled by MyraGale Sexton)


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Page 6 • June 2018

A beautiful place to spend some summer days


he Trail of Tears State Park near Jackson, Mo., is situated right at the edge of the Mississippi River. So if you’ve never been there before, you’ll probably going to be assuming to see some great views of the river and our neighboring state of Illinois just across the river. Well… I’m sure you are aware of how “assuming” something can often get you in all kinds of predicaments, but I’m here to tell you that in this case you can easily slide by with “assuming” something because the scenic overlook in this park at the edge of a high cliff overlooking the Mississippi is absolutely breathtaking. Being there on a beautiful sunny, cloudless day under a blue sky also adds to the spectacle. Standing at this lookout point reveals so much to see. The river itself (my wife and I were fortunate to see a barge going up the river on our visit) and miles and miles of our neighbor across the river awaits the visitor to this scenic overlook. It is worth a trip to this park just to stand on this lookout point and take in all the beauty offered, but the park offers so many other things to see and do, and a lengthy Bill Oder stay in the campground would be ———— highly recommended. The park itself consists of 3,415 acres in Cape Girardeau County in Missouri. It is a memorial to the Cherokee Native Americans who died on the infamous forced relocation to Oklahoma during a severe winter in 1838-1839. Their crossing of the Mississippi was at this point. This relocation from Georgia to the Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma, involved an eight-hundred mile trip. Some were in wagons, some on horseback, and some on foot. The Native Americans had to deal with rain, snow, freezing cold, hunger and disease. The park is a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Besides the scenic overlook, you will find a 20-acre lake called Lake Boutin inside the park. Fishing is allowed and the fish population consists of bass, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie. A sign at the lake states a daily limit of 30 for crappie, so evidently the crappie are plentiful. At one end of the lake, there is a sandy beach with a roped-off area where swimming is allowed. There is no lifeguard available so swimming at your own risk is a warning highlighted on a nearby sign. We didn’t try any fishing while we were there but we saw several people with fishing gear along the banks of the lake enjoying the day. The visitor’s center offers exhibits pertaining to the Cherokee’s forced move from Georgia to Oklahoma and also provides all the information you need regarding everything the park has to offer. There is a short (0.6 mile) hiking trail near the visitor’s center that is rated MODERATE. There are three other trails that are all rated RUGGED. The Sheppard Point Trail is 1.3 miles. The Lake Trail is 2.5 miles and circles around the lake. The Peewah Trail is 9 miles long and also allows horseback riding. This trail also offers backpack camping at a designated spot along the trail. The views along the river also provide opportunities to see migratory birds and eagles. The visitor will find numerous picnic sites for day excursions to this park but a large campground is available for extended stays. This would be an ideal place for a family to do

some camping with plenty of things to do to keep the little ones happy. The campground offers basic and electric sites. Reservations can be made online or by phone at (877) 422-6766. The entrance of the park is about 10 miles east of Jackson, Mo. On Interstate 55, simply get off the interstate at Exit 105 and follow the signs. If you are southbound on 55, you will turn left after

you exit; or if you’re going north, you will turn right. There are several turns to be made after you get off the highway but there are large, visible signs all along the way, so just watch the signs. This park is an ideal place for campers looking for an interesting place to spend some summertime with their families, no matter if they are novice campers are seasoned campers. And when you do go to this place, by all means do not forget the scenic overlook. Like I said before, it is spectacular. (Bill Oder can be reached at

step p back in time

Located on the e banks of the mighty y Mississippi, M Cape Girardeau is home to more than 250 yearss of river heritage and historic sites, re eady for exploration. Reli yesterye est Relive ar at one of only onl four remaining covered bridges in Missouri. Hear the past echo of Civil War turmo oil at Fort D or follow Lewis and Clarrk’s travels to the Red House. The e opportunities to step back in tim me abound. Preview the potential online with our weekend-lo ong agenda of recommended historic stops or call 800-777-0068 today y..



June 2018 • Page 7

The spirit of the Alton Club lives on F or more than 75 years, thousands of floaters on the Current River, while paddling between PullTight Spring and the Highway 19 bridge in Shannon County, Mo., have passed the “Alton Club” and have wondered what that was all about. From the river, they could see picturesque, rustic buildings on the hillside overlooking the river, but because the property was posted as “private,” paddlers pretty much had to guess what was there and who got to stay there. Today, you can see it for yourself. It is now owned by the State of Missouri and several years ago it was renamed as “Current River State Park.” It is located off of Highway 19, about halfway between Salem and Eminence. The Alton Club was a private retreat owned and managed by the Alton Box Board Company and its corporate successor, Jefferson Smurfit Corporation, for the benefit of its management personnel, employees, customers and their respective families. Beginning in the mid-1930s, the company, which was then based in Alton, Ill., began acquiring a considerable amount of acreage in the Missouri Ozarks, including approximately Bill Hoagland 1,600 acres of real ———— estate along the Current River. The original purpose of acquiring all of this ground was to supply the company paper mills in Alton and elsewhere with an adequate supply of wood fiber for its paper products. It did not take management long, however, to realize that the 1,600 acres they owned along the Current River were unique and that some of it might be best suited as a retreat for company families and customers. Thus, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the various buildings comprising the Alton Club were built. If you want to read an excellent and thorough description of the architecture of all buildings that were constructed at the Alton Club during that time, I refer you to This is the application that was prepared and filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior for the purpose of registering the Alton Club as a “historic district” under the auspices of the National Park Service. The buildings were built in a uniform, rustic style and painted dark brown with white trim. A sawmill was constructed at the west end of the roughly 35 acres making up the main grounds of the club; timber used on the buildings for the most part was harvested right on the property. The stone used on the foundations of the buildings was hand-pulled from the hillsides nearby. (In those days, men were glad to have any kind of work, even plucking rocks from the hillsides.) Several of the buildings had fireplaces; some of the material used on these fireplaces were stalactites and stalagmites that came from “Bat Cave,” a huge cavern located on the property. By the early 1940s, the Alton Club was in full use during the summer months. My first memory of being at the Alton Club during that time was in

This picture is of Dale Davidsmeyer and his wife, Frances, taken in 2013 in front of the main lodge at the Alton Club. Davidsmeyer and his family ran the Alton Club for years. This picture was taken while the restoration was still going on but you can see that the work was progressing nicely. It also highlights the stone and masonry work that is mentioned in the article.

1944, when I was four years old. The club was a dream come true for children and adults alike. There was fishing and swimming in the main lake, floating on the Current River in long, wooden “jon boats,” skeet shooting on the skeet range, and of course, playing plenty of horseshoes and pingpong. When it rained, you could bowl on a real bowling alley, play indoor tennis, basketball, and volleyball in the gymnasium, play pool in the “pool hall” or play cards at the poker table in the main lodge. There were even two holes of golf with real grass greens. And for a full day of adventure, you would go on a hike to Bat Cave, which had tunnels that seemed to go on forever underground. Yes, there were plenty of bats in the cave but we were oblivious to them or to the huge piles of guano at the entrance that we scampered over to get into the cave. Normally, the club could handle roughly 30 guests at a time. The routine, at least until 1988, was for the fathers and all of the children (both boys and girls) to sleep in the “dormitory,” which had roughly 20 beds in a row. The adult women slept in a separate cabin which was referred to in those days as “the hen house.” (In 1988, the dormitory was converted into individual bedrooms, air conditioning was installed, and the sleeping arrangements became more traditional.) After breakfast in the mornings, the families could do any of the many activities on the club grounds, but in the afternoon, when it got hot, there would always be a float trip on the Current River, either from Pull-Tight to the club, or from the club down to the Highway 19 bridge so that everyone could cool off. The meals were served on the premises. About a half-hour before each meal, a huge bell next to the kitchen was rung, so that everyone on the club grounds would know that they needed to stop doing what they were doing and start heading toward the dining room. The meals, served family style, were outstanding and memorable. While families of Alton Box Board employees were allowed at the club from time to time, the main purpose of the facility was to facilitate the sales of products manufactured by the company. By 1960, Alton Box Board had become a major producer of paperboard products, with more than 43 plants and thousands of employees. As a result,

the people who were at the club the most were customers and, of course, the sales people involved with those accounts. Generally, customers were encouraged to bring their families with them. There was a subtle motive behind this; if the kids of customers loved the place, they would implore their fathers to continue to do business with Alton Box Board so that they could come back. As George Spence, former head of sales for the company used to say, “If you can’t sell paper at the Alton Club, you can’t sell paper.” That policy of inviting the customers’ families along with the customers worked for years in generating ongoing business and it is easy to understand why. Frankly, I never met anyone who did not simply fall in love with the place once they stayed there. But times do change, and that has been certainly true as to how corporate customers expected to be entertained. By the early 1990s, even long-standing customers no longer wanted to be entertained in a remote section of the Ozarks; instead they wanted to be wined and dined in Las Vegas, Chicago or on a fancy golf course. And so the primary purpose of having the club — to promote sales — was beginning to erode. The crowning blow came when it was decided to have Michael Smurfit, the chairman of the board of directors of Jefferson Smurfit Corporation, come down and see this little gem for himself. Suffice it to say that he had the final say on whether to keep the club or sell it. The hope was that he, like everyone else, would fall in love with the Alton Club and the property would not be sold. First, a little background on Michael Smurfit. He was a self-made multi-millionaire who lived in Ireland and who bought Alton Box Board and a number of other American paper companies in the 1980s. He enjoyed the good life, with estates in Monte Carlo, Ireland, and so on. I think it is safe to say that he viewed the American midwest and the outdoor life in general with distain. Be that as it may, he agreed to come down, during a visit to St. Louis, and at least look at the club. In preparation for his arrival, the staff worked hard to spruce the place up and a chicken dinner, with all the “fixings,” was cooked and ready to be put on the table as soon as he stepped in the door. He was scheduled to arrive at noon for lunch. He showed up on time but in

a huge helicopter, not a car. The helicopter never landed. Instead, the helicopter circled low over the club twice and then headed back to St. Louis; either Mr. Smurfit felt he had seen all he needed to see from the air or there was no good spot to land this huge helicopter. Regardless, this was the only time they attempted to bring Mr. Smurfit down to see the club. Everyone involved with the club felt that if Mr. Smurfit was not enamored with the club, it would eventually be sold. That sale occurred in 1996, when the property was sold and title eventually wound up with the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Department of Conservation began using the club as an education center for high school science teachers, but costs of running the place mounted. The Department of Conservation eventually wanted to tear down some of the existing buildings to save costs and start over. Fortunately, local people who had helped build the Alton Club and who worked there over the years, as well as others who had been there as guests, started a movement to preserve the buildings at the Alton Club and to put a stop to the Department of Conservation plans. In 2005, in response to this groundswell of support, an application was filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior to designate the Alton Club as a “historical district”; that application was ultimately granted. Once the club was designated as a “historic district,” ownership was transferred to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and they took over management responsibilities. At some point, the Department of Natural Resources received environmental mitigation money to restore the Alton Club to the way it looked in the 1940s. Having seen what they have done to the buildings and grounds since that effort began, I must say that it is an excellent restoration effort and one that makes all of us who loved the club pleased. Finally, a word needs to be said about the people who ran the club all those years and worked so hard to make it what it was. The original club manager, I believe, was Everett Jones and his wife. At least, I remember him being there during the 1940s and 1950s but he apparently was still there until 1968, when Harold and Frieda Davidsmeyer, from Pike County, Ill., took over running the club. They, and later their son, Dale Davidsmeyer, ran the club until 1984. What an outstanding job they did! There were others who ran the club after 1984 until it was sold in 1996, but no one else was there as long and no one, in my opinion, could compare to what the Davidsmeyers brought to the club. They had a lot to do with the reason why everyone loved the Alton Club. My thanks goes out to all those who played a part in preserving this wonderful place as it used to be. (Bill Hoagland has practiced law for more than 50 years in Madison County, Ill., and lives in the Alton area. He and his wife, Annie, have been outdoor enthusiasts all of their lives. He can be reached at billhoagland70@gmail. com.)

Page 8 • June 2018

June 2018 • Page 9

This camping trip made for some unusual memories


nce Charlie and I had planned this campout for a couple of weeks. We had not been camping for some time, so we were looking forward to this trip. Thursday afternoon we had everything packed and ready to go. Friday morning we headed out. We knew just where we were to set up camp. We had been to this spot a few times before. It was a good place for hikTom ing and target practice Boydston with our handguns. ———— When we arrived, the first thing to do was to set up our tarps because it never fails to rain when we go camping. The tent was set up, everything was in place in case of bad weather, including building the fire under the tarp.

Well, that afternoon we were not disappointed; it rained. Or should I say it poured down? No surprise, we always expect the bad weather. It doesn’t bother us anymore, we always seem to have a great time just being outdoors. After dark we sat around the fire and

watched it pour down. We talked about our families, the condition the world is in, and past campouts we had survived. Around midnight I hit the sack and fell asleep right away listening to the rain pounding on the tent. Sometime during the early morning hours I woke up to what I thought were voices. But I

let it pass, thinking it was just the sound of the hard rain. After some time passed I couldn’t take it any longer, I just had to check. I looked out the tent and saw several men sitting under our tarps, around our fire talking and drinking. I wondered what the heck was going on here. Not knowing what to expect, I picked up my 357 Mag and crawled out of the tent. I came up behind them and said, “What the heck is going on here.” When they turned around and saw the gun in my hand, it sure got their attention. They replied, “We must be in the wrong place.” You sure are. They began to explain that they were from St. Louis and were to meet their friends from K.C. at this spot. Their friends always got here first and had camp set up. This was an annual trip for them and this was always their spot, so therefore they

thought this was the place they were to be. We must have set up on their weekend. They kept apologizing for the intrusion. They didn’t have any idea where their friends might be and it was pouring down rain, so I told them they were welcome to finish out the night under our tarps. We spent the rest of the night getting acquainted, They seemed to be a pretty nice group of guys, I hope they thought we were also. Morning came and rain had all but stopped. They thanked us for letting them spend the night out of the rain and headed out to find their friends from K.C. We found their group a quarter-mile or so on up the trail. Sunday morning we went by to see how they were doing, and found them packing to head home. We visited with them for a few minutes and they thanked us again for letting them spend the night out of the rain and added, “Oh, and thanks for not shooting us.” I will always remember this trip, and most likely so will they. (Tom Boydston lives in Neosho, Mo., and can be reached by text at 417-439-6048.)

Critter of the Month: Eastern gray squirrel

• Species: Eastern gray squirrel. • Scientific name: Sciurrus carolinensis. • Nicknames: None. • Claim to fame: Eastern gray squirrels and their close cousins, fox squirrels, have the multiple reputations of being popular game animals, watchable wildlife and destructive pests. This year, the state’s squirrel season runs from May 26 through Feb. 15. In urban settings, squirrels are familiar sites in backyards. Some people encourage squirrel attendance in their yards by putting up squirrel feeders. Other people try to get rid of them through trapping and other methods because of squirrels’ tendencies for being garden pests and gnawing nuisances. • Species status: Gray squirrels and fox squirrels are both abundant throughout Missouri. • First discovered: The first scientific description of the gray squirrel was written by German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788. • Family matters: Squirrels belong to the rodent family

Sciuridae. This group includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs. The word “sciuridae” means “shape-tail” and refers to the bushy tail possessed by many of its members. • Length: A squirrel’s body is eight to 10 inches long and the tail is an additional seven to 10 inches. • Diet: Nuts are the best-known part of a squirrel’s diet, but it also eats wild fruits, berries, domestic grains and garden vegetables. • Weight: Most squirrels’ weights range from slightly under one pound to around two pounds. • Distinguishing characteristics: A squirrel’s bushy tail, perhaps its most obvious trait, helps the animal maneuver through trees without falling. It also serves as a blanket in winter. Another well-known trait of squirrels is nut-burying. Studies have shown squirrels that inhabit an area will share these buried snacks. The general position of stored nuts is located slightly by a sense of memory, but the actual spot is found by smell.

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Of course, a large number of buried nuts do not get found and the stored nuts become planted trees. • Life span: In the wild, squirrels rarely live longer than six years. • Habitat: Gray and fox squirrels can be found in a variety of settings, but in rural areas, they show a preference for dense, hardwood forests that have an abundance of oaks, hickories and other types of nut-bearing trees. • Life cycle: Squirrels experience two mating periods in a calendar year, one stretching from December to late January and the other from May to early June. Pregnancy lasts 44-45 days. Offspring from the first mating period are born in February or March and the latter mating period produces young in July or August. From one to eight offspring can make up a litter, but two to three is the norm. At birth, squirrel offspring are hairless, have their eyes closed and possess well-developed claws. The female is the sole care-taker of the litter. The young come out of the nest when they’re six or seven weeks old. At eight weeks of age, they are half-

grown, fully furred and have a bushy tail. Weaning occurs about this time and the young become self-sustaining in the following weeks. Males attain sexual maturity in 10 to 11 months. (source: MDC)

Page 10 • June 2018

MISSOURI ENDANGERED SPECIES OF THE MONTH Characteristics What does it look like?

Neosho madtom


By Francis Skalicky declining population is one of the trademarks of an endangered species, but Missouri’s Neosho madtom population seems to defy that unwritten rule. It’s believed this small catfish is as numerous as it’s probably ever been in the state. However, because that population has always been small, its hold on existence in Missouri is as precarious today as it’s ever been. Therein lies the reason why this fish is one of the state’s endangered species and is an example why water quality is so important. Few vertebrate species have a smaller range in Missouri than the Neosho madtom. This fish is found in a small stretch of the Spring River in western Jasper County – an area that comprises approximately 5-7 miles – and that’s it. Besides the Spring River, Neosho madtoms were historically listed as occurring in the Neosho, Cottonwood, Spring and Illinois rivers in Kansas and Oklahoma. While its population appears relatively unchanged in Missouri, it is dwindling elsewhere. The fish is no longer present in the Illinois River and appears to be sparse in the rest of its range. It carries a federal designation of “threatened.” Even if Neosho madtoms were more abundant in Missouri, it’s doubtful many people would ever see them. This small catfish buries itself in gravel during daylight hours and emerges at night to look for food.


ndangered species are specifically designated in the Wildlife Code of Missouri. Here’s the text from the code: (2) The exportation, transportation, or sale of any endangered species of plant or parts thereof, or the sale of or possession with intent to sell any product made in whole or in part from any parts of any endangered species of plant is prohibited. (3) For the purpose of this rule, endangered species of wildlife and plants shall include the following native species designated as endangered in

Feeding is most intense within three hours after sunset. The Neosho madtom’s diet consists mostly of caddisflies, mayflies and midges. The reproductive habits of this species have not been documented but they probably mimic those of other madtom species that make cavity nests in protected hiding places. After eggs are laid, they are guarded by one or both parents. Neosho madtom offspring have been found in July, suggesting a late spring or early summer spawning season. Threats to long-term survival of the Neosho madtom include graveldredging and changes in water quality caused by surrounding land-use changes. Pollution caused by chemical and fertilizer run-off is another threat. Why should we care about what happens to a species that was, in all probability, never numerous in Missouri? It’s because the decline of a species – no matter its level of presettlement abundance – often translates into some type of negative impact on humans. In the case of the Neosho madtom, the water it needs for survival is the same water we use for a variety of personal and commercial purposes. If that water is polluted, humans suffer consequences, too. Landowners can’t control changes that have occurred to this area’s streams due to urbanization and industrialization, but there are things they can do to help waterways that run through or next to their land. Planting willows and other types of bottomland vegetation on both sides of the stream will reduce erosion and soil run-off into the water. Livestock should also be excluded from the streams with fencing. Taking measures such as these will improve the water for the aquatic creatures that live in it and for the humans that use it.

It’s probable that the Neosho madtom will never be more than a species that’s barely hanging on for survival in Missouri. However, that doesn’t mean we should let it slip into extinction in this state. When it comes to understanding the link between wildlife populations and humans, sometimes the best way to see the big picture is to look at the small one. (Francis Skalicky works for the Missouri Department of Conservation and can be reached at 417-8956880.)

Gone from Missouri

The Neosho madtom is still hanging on as a species in Missouri, which constitutes the eastern periphery of its range. Another fish that was once a “fringe species” in Missouri hasn’t fared as well. The golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) is still considered common in some parts of the southeastern U.S., but this fish appears to be gone from Missouri. This small (one inch to three inches in length) fish has a yellowish-green color overlaid by a varying pattern of spots or bars. It’s considered to be an attractive fish, but don’t expect to find any in Missouri. It is known in this state from five specimens collected in Dunklin and Pemiscot counties between 1944 and 1946. None have been found since then and the species is presumed to have disappeared from the state. It’s thought golden topminnows were never common here and had a Missouri range that was limited to the state’s southeastern corner. Though no one is certain, the channelization of rivers and other landscape changes probably played a major role in the golden topminnow’s disappearance from Missouri. (source: MDC)

The Neosho madtom is between one and three inches in length. It has a brownish color that is overlaid by lessdistinct darker bars and blotches. Like other madtoms, the Neosho madtom’s adipose fin (a small, spineless fin usually located towards the rear of a fish’s body) is connected to its tail fin, giving the hind portion of the fish a fan-like appearance.

Noturus placidus

The Neosho madtom is the smallest catfish in Missouri. It belongs to the Noturus genus of catfish, a group commonly known as the madtoms. This genus contains 25 species and is the largest group of species in the catfish family Ictaluridae. Nine madtom species occur in Missouri.

Where is it found?

Neosho madtoms typically inhabit mediumsized to moderately large streams that have moderate slopes, permanent flow and fairly clear water. Adults usually are found on riffles where unconsolidated gravel provides crevices in which madtoms hide. Young, and occasionally adults, occur in quiet water along the margins of riffles or downstream in pools of deeper, slower-moving water. (source: MDC)

WILDLIFE CODE OF MISSOURI Missouri: (A) Mammals: Gray bat, Ozark big-eared bat, Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, black-tailed jackrabbit, spotted skunk. (B) Birds: Northern harrier, interior least tern, Swainson’s warbler, snowy egret, king rail, Bachman’s sparrow, peregrine falcon, American bittern, greater prairie-chicken. (C) Reptiles: Western chicken turtle, Blanding’s turtle, Illinois mud turtle, yellow mud turtle, Mississippi green water snake, massasauga rattlesnake. (D) Amphibians: eastern hell-

bender, Ozark hellbender. (E) Fishes: Lake sturgeon, pallid sturgeon, taillight shiner, Neosho madtom, spring cavefish, harlequin darter, goldstripe darter, cypress minnow, central mudminnow, crystal darter, swamp darter, Ozark cavefish, Niangua darter, Sabine shiner, mountain madtom, redfin darter, longnose darter, flathead chub, Topeka shiner, grotto sculpin. (F) Mussels: Curtis pearlymussel, Higgins’ eye, pink mucket, fat pocketbook, ebonyshell, elephant ear, winged mapleleaf, sheepnose, snuffbox,

scaleshell, spectaclecase, Neosho mucket, rabbitsfoot, salamander mussel, slippershell mussel. (G) Other Invertebrates: American burying beetle, Hine’s emerald dragonfly, Tumbling Creek cavesnail. (H) Plants: Small whorled pogonia, Mead’s milkweed, decurrent false aster, Missouri bladderpod, geocarpon, running buffalo clover, pondberry, eastern prairie fringed orchid, western prairie fringed orchid, Virginia sneezeweed. (source: MDC)

June 2018 • Page 11

Welch Lodge burns during wildfire ignited by downed power line


he historic Welch Lodge, located north of Akers Ferry on the upper Current River, was destroyed in a wildfire that ignited on April 12, during warm, windy, and dry weather conditions. Despite valiant efforts by several local fire departments and wildland firefighters from Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR), the Welch Lodge was a total loss as a result of the blaze. The Missouri State Fire Marshall and wildfire investigators from the National Park Service (NPS) jointly investigated the wildfire and loss of the structure. NPS investigators determined the origin of the wildfire was a downed power line resulting from a tree that fell across the line a short distance from the lodge. The fire was first spotted around 2 p.m. by park visitors who had been fishing at the river landing nearby, as they were returning to their vehicle.!They immediately drove to Akers Ferry Canoe Rental to report the fire.! Firefighters from Timber Community Fire Protection District were the first to arrive at Welch, observing that the wildfire had already reached the structure and was spreading quickly through the attic space.!

A member of the Jadwin Volunteer Fire Department works to keep the wildfire from spreading to the nearby unoccupied caretaker’s house.

They began fire suppression efforts for both the Welch Lodge and rapidly spreading wildfire, and requested additional assistance from Jadwin Volunteer Fire Department and National Park Service wildland firefighters.! Because of the rugged terrain and extreme wildfire conditions, firefighters

National Park Service firefighters burned off from nearby roads to contain the wildfire.

conducted a burnout operation along nearby roads, so that a secure containment perimeter could be established. Crews worked late into the evening to contain the blaze. In total, the fire burned 148 acres.!! Welch Lodge and the nearby unoccupied caretaker’s house, which was saved

The remains of the Welch Lodge, which burned in a wildfire that ignited on April 12 during dry and windy conditions.

3 Th T ings You Can Do to Help

Mon narchs AND Pollinators 1

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eep it Blooming

Keep something in bloom each season. Some species bloom all year, others only in April and May, still others in July and August. Learn more at


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through the efforts of the local volunteer firefighters, were built about 1953 by the Welch Cave Ranch Company. The facilities were operated as a fishing lodge prior to the establishment of Ozark National Scenic Riverways.!The Welch Cave Ranch Company, a commercial enterprise of a group of St. Louis businessmen, catered to trout fishermen and stocked trout in the nearby manmade spillway from Welch Spring.! The success of the enterprise is unknown, but by 1964 the company was no longer registered to stock trout, and the property was sold to the government in 1967 to become part of the national riverways.! The lodge included 23 rooms, with two wings of dormitory bedrooms as well as a large kitchen, dining room, lounge area, and screened porch.! Over the years it had served a variety of purposes, as a home for a Youth Conservation Corps camp through the early 1980s and then as housing for park employees.! Plans to develop the lodge into a training center and educational youth camp were proposed and initiated in the early 2000s, but had been put on hold due to lack of funds.

Page 12 • June 2018

Eleven Point River talked to me one night


By Richard Whiteside aying there that night in my tent, on the banks of a wild stream far from home, I was trying to escape. Trying to escape life, the world, and all the things the world throws at you. I should have been home with my wife and children, but I wasn’t. My only companions that night were the looming ridge top called Mosby Mountain and the cold waters of the stream that was passing by. I went there often. I would intentionally haul my stuff far enough back up into the woods so I could see her. The night was cold, at 18 degrees there’s not much need to zip the tent up. The night was still and quiet and the stars above Mosby filled the sky. I was camped on my favorite stream above a shoal called Tumbling Shoals. The land just below me, where the river ran,!constricted and formed a narrow rocky gorge that funneled the water down over a shoal that dropped nearly four feet. The sound of the water tumbling down over the shoal was hypnotizing and added something special to this lo-

cation. I knew the place well and somehow this place felt like home and!brought me comfort. In the bottom behind me was the location of the old recruiting camp for the confederates during the Civil War. Somehow, this place, this place of such controversy and mystery, was my home. The tall oak and pine-laden ridges, deep dark hollows, cold riffled shoals separated by deep blue green holes of water... it was my home. Clinging to something I cannot explain, and searching for something, I came here time and time again as if some answer to my questions one day would come to me. I waited and watched Mosby as if she had the answers and when she would not speak, I would walk her ridges as if searching for some long lost treasure. Now some may read what I am about to write and feel offended, but I’m not writing out of a desire to hide behind some fake wall but rather out of honesty, a feeling of being transparent and real. I laid there that night in my tent, staring across the waters at the!rim of Mosby, intoxicated, alone. In the distance I could distinctly hear the swish of a limb in the water. Like clockwork it danced in the water as the swift current kept the limb in rhythm.

Half-awake, half-asleep, and halfdrunk I heard it. A voice, a voice of a saint... my grandmother’s voice.! My beautiful child, God loves you, God loves you, God loves you. As clear as the night I could hear a voice say, “Come to me, come to me, come to me.” I was running and I knew then, as I do now, you can run from a lot of things, but you cannot run from God’s will and expect the path to be smooth. The limb swished and danced and the voice once more said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you, come to me, come to me, come to me.” Lying there that night on the banks of a wild stream named the Eleven Point River, she talked to me. (Richard Whiteside lives in Doniphan, Mo., and can be reached at His blog can be followed at www.ozarkriverman.wordpress. com.)

Reminder for Turner Mill North Access off of Eleven Point River


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Eleven Point River recently in southern Missouri.! The Turner Mill North Access is a special place to see. It is located about 5.5 miles down river from the Greer Crossing Access and about 21.5 miles from the first river access which is in Thomasville, Mo. Turner Mill North is a day use area with several picnic tables, a restroom and a boat ramp. There is a short trail behind the restroom that leads to the Turner Spring underneath a tall rock bluff. You’ll find a 26-foot steel overshot wheel that was used in a mill there in the 1800s. J.L.C. Turner owned the mill and started a small community there called Surprise. Mr. Turner petitioned for a post office and after being approved, located it in one end of the mill building. There were about 50 residents that lived around there. This area is just one of many historical landmarks along this beautiful river. As you float down the Eleven Point River this year, remember there were many people that came before you that left their mark, so to speak, on these areas. What mark will you leave? (Dana Sturgeon lives in southern Missouri. She can be reached at

June 2018 • Page 13

Crane Lake dam in bad shape, needs repairs


By Becky Ewing idden in the southwest part of the Fredericktown Unit, in Iron County, is one of Mark Twain National Forest’s jewels — the 100-acre Crane Lake. Three years have passed since engineering inspections first revealed that Crane Lake’s dam does not meet federal dam safety regulations. Since then, the USDA Forest Service has been conducting engineering studies to identify options to address the deficiencies. For readers who have not been following this issue, Crane Lake dam was built in 1959 and raised in height in 1972 before it was acquired by the Forest Service. The dam was never designed to pass 100 percent of a probable maximum flood event – a requirement for all federally-managed dams. Follow-up inspections showed the dam has structural, geotechnical, and hydraulic issues, and further, does not meet seismic design standards for potential earthquakes. Here are some updates on items of interest. The partial drawdown will continue because the water control structure was damaged by large woody debris during the December 2015 flood. Lake levels continue to fluctuate after

Crane Lake is a 100-acre fishing lake in Mark Twain National Forest.

storms because debris floats in and clogs the structure. At most, water levels have dropped to eight feet below normal pool during dry periods. A temporary boat ramp has been planned for construction so anglers and paddlers can access the lake when water levels are below normal pool. A contract to construct the temporary ramp is to be re-advertised shortly. The project was previously advertised in 2017, but bids came in too high and the job could not be awarded. The engineering studies have been completed. The hydraulic and hydrologic analyses determined how much of a probable maximum flood could be passed by the current dam, and then,

what options could be employed to bring the dam into compliance with federal dam safety regulations. For example, options include modifications to the dam, such as raising the earthen embankment, widening the spillways, and/or lowering the spillway walls. Structural deficiencies with the concrete in the spillway chutes and walls must be designed with earthquakes in mind, which is of importance because of Crane Lake’s proximity to the New Madrid fault. No matter what modifications and repairs are planned, they must be designed for the maximum credible earthquake. For Crane Lake, the engineering firm calculated that is a 5,000-year return pe-

This harvest will improve forest health and vigor by removing over-stocked, stressed, and mature trees that are starting to decline. It will also provide increased sunlight to establish oak and pine seedlings and support ground flora beneficial to a variety of wildlife. • Suspended or revoked one or more hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges of 21 individuals for cause: — Phillip L. Applegate, Morrisville, hunting, 8 years; — John Arnold, Elkland, hunting, 1 year; — Michael S. Baggett, Rolla, hunting, 1 year; — Alex H. Crawford, Portageville, hunting, 1 year; — Juan M. Carvajal Dachiad, St. Petersburg (Fla.), hunting, 1 year; — Logan A. Hopwood, Cuba, hunting, 1 year; — Scott N. Long, Koshkonong, all sports, 1 year; — Matthew G. McKnight, Galena, hunting & fishing, 1 year; — Randal D. Neumeyer, Sarcoxie, fishing, 1 year; — Sam C. Newman, Springfield, hunting, 5 years; — David Poindexter, Walnut Grove, hunting & trapping, 1 year; — Steven G. Promaroli, Foristell, hunting, 1 year; — Cody A. Rettinghaus, Saint Clair, hunting & fishing, 1 year; — Kyle W. Samples, Dudley, hunting, 1 year; — Caleb D. Shaffer, Lamar, hunting, 1 year; — Vitaliy Shevchenko, Sedalia, hunting, 2 years; — Aaron Sutton, Sikeston, hunting, 1 year; — Jimmie D. Webb, Nevada, hunting, 1 year; — Shawn E. Westphelin, Everton, hunting, 4 years; — Homer Woods, Pierce City, hunting & fishing, 1 year; and — Jason M. Chadwick, Jameson,

hunting & fishing, revoked until March 16, 2020. • Suspended hunting privileges and required the completion of a hunter education training course of three individuals who inflicted injury to another person by firearm while hunting:

riod earthquake. Mark Twain National Forest Supervisor Sherri Schwenke will make the decision on what repairs will be made to Crane Lake, but to do that, she first wants information from people who enjoy and appreciate Crane Lake and its surrounding national forest lands. To gather this information for Schwenke, three local-area residents have volunteered to help reach out to recreation and outdoor user groups, tourism organizations, Crane Lake neighbors, and elected officials over the next two months. These three people are: DeNae Gitonga, the community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension; Bill Bennett, a former educator and current director of the River Valley Region Association; and Don Firebaugh, an avid angler and outdoorsman and Madison County clerk. After visiting with people in these focused groups, we will then invite everyone interested in Crane Lake to an evening community forum on July 12 at Arcadia Academy. (Becky Ewing is the district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, PotosiFredericktown Ranger District. She can be reached by email at rewing@

Over 2,000 acres donated for new MDC conservation areas


he Missouri Conservation Commission met on Thursday, May 24, for its closed executive session, and on Friday, May 25, for its regular open meeting, both at MDC headquarters in Jefferson City. The commission: • Approved bids on construction of the Headwaters Access Boat Ramp Renovation Project located in Cape Girardeau County. • Approved acquisition of four parcels of land in Franklin County totaling approximately 4.33 acres from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission as an addition to Noser Mill Conservation Area. The four parcels are adjacent to Noser Mill CA, are forested, and lie within a priority conservation watershed. • Accepted the donation of approximately 503 acres in Barry County as a new conservation area, subject to the reservation of a life estate. This property is mostly forested. Woodland and glade management will support the already present native plant and migratory diversity, and deer, turkey, and small game populations. • Accepted the donation of approximately 1,724 acres in Texas County as a new conservation area. This property has 1,496 acres of forest, 224 acres of open fields, and a few small ponds. Woodland and grassland management will support the already present deer, turkey, and small game populations. • Approved the sale of the 20-acre Lotts Creek Conservation Area in Harrison County. This woodland tract is remote and public use is limited. Disposal of the tract will allow the MDC to focus its Harrison County maintenance and management efforts on Grand Trace Conservation Area, Helton Memorial Wildlife Area, and Pawnee Prairie Natural Area. • Approved the advertisement and sale of an estimated 1,532,521 board feet of timber located on 480 acres of Compartment 6, Clearwater Conservation Area in Reynolds County.

— Justin Turley, Clever, 2 years; — Dillon Clawson, Warsaw, 2 years; and — Steven Douglas, Cadet, 1 year. The next regular meeting of the commission is set for July 12-13.

Page 14 • June 2018

STREAM from 1 ural Resources, stabilized the 1,650 feet eroding stream bank by implementing sophisticated engineering and naturebased approaches to stream management to stop the erosion, enhance the habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve downstream recreational benefit. “This is the largest site I’ve worked on and it has been a real problem here for the past 20 years,” said Steve Herrington, Missouri’s Director of Freshwater Conservation. Josh Duzan, project manager with Natural State Streams, LLC., built and designed the plan of stabilization for this stream. “I specialize in stream bank stabilization with natural materials and try to make them look as natural as possibly, which is what we did here,” said Duzan. According to the landowners in the area, there were no trees on the property and that may have been causing some of the eroding problem. “Some symptoms of erosion are tall banks with a wall of 90 degrees, lack of vegetation, no surface protection, and a difference in stream bank heights,” said Herrington. This piece of property fit the bill for all the symptoms and something needed to be done, before it started washing away more land. “This was definitely a site we thought we could help stabilize,” said Herrington. “We wanted to make sure the engineering replicated places that have stood and thrived.” To do that, they needed a lot of vegetation. Bio-engineering was a big part in the stabilization of the stream bank. “We needed lots of big things and plants to help and we incorporated that into the plan,” said Herrington. “We moved over 40,000 cubic yards of gravel and installed 6,000 tons of rock and over 120 hardwood trees with root

wads during construction to restore and protect this stream bank,” said Duzan. “After years of planning it’s exciting to see everything come together.” The angle of the bank and the bank height was also addressed to lessen the impact of flooding. Plant-based bioengineering was used to ensure long-term stability and ecological function, including live brush layering on top of the boulder/tree root wad toe with 50,000 native tree live-cuttings for ensuring deep-rooted vegetation in the stream bank itself. Hundreds of pounds of native seed for rapid and long-term herbaceous growth was also planted and 1,250 potted native trees were planted in the constricted floodplain, and heavy fiber-based erosion control blankets for stopping erosion, resisting sheer stress, and facilitating seed growth. Since February, there have been three floods that the new stream bank has endured. The trees were planted at the end of February and about 200 of the rooted trees that were planted washed away after the third flood. “We knew stuff was going to come at

AROUND the WORLD with the River Hills Traveler

A group of men trout-fished at Norfolk on the White River on a Friday and Saturday in early March, then headed back home on Sunday. The group stopped at Mammoth Spring, Ark., to take this picture. Pictured are Randy Fuller, Steve Seyer, Carter Cassou, H.B. Rice, Donnie Kiefer, John Fuller, Clark Cassou, Aaron Fuller, Mark Siebert, David Glueck, and Frank Essner taking the picture. "We are all from the Chaffee, Mo., area and are looking forward to next year's fishing trip and discovering other places that we have not been before. Happy travels!" The group took a "friend" along with them. ———

If you're going on a trip or vacation, please take the River Hills Traveler with you and have someone photograph you and the magazine in front of a landmark or somewhere pretty neat. Then email the picture & info to us at and we will publish it an upcoming issue. You can also text your photos & info to (417) 451-3798 or send them to us via our Facebook page.

us which is why we chose the design we did, so we don’t have to worry as much,” said Herrington. “We created an area that can flood over. All the things we planted are already creating root structure, which is key for withstanding floods.” They laid a foundation first — top soil, live brush, then fabric, more soil, and then more fabric. For now the temporary seed mix that was spread is creating root structure, but after a year the native seeds will take over and really lock in that structure, according to Herrington. He also said the fabric is supposed to last 3-4 years before degrading. This process is done nationwide through companies and organizations, as well as by landowners. “There is funding available for landowners to do something on their own stream bank,” said Herrington. To do something inside the waterway one would need a permit, and the Department of Natural Resources and the Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District,

issue the permits. According to Herrington, the key to be stable and successful is “rocks for surface protection, and lots of vegetation to provide shielding.” For this stream bank, it was about $300 per foot with natural materials, and would cost less to do it on a smaller scale. “You could do this on your own stream bank for way less, at around $50 per foot using natural materials you already have,” said Herrington. “We were able to harvest several willows for this project on-site and that helped out.” The materials bought and used for this stream bank can be bought and used by individuals in addition to using alreadyowned materials. According to Herrington, this was a very risky site and they wanted to make sure it was done right. “This was not the first time to stabilize this bank,” said Duzan. “The landowner paid to have some work done and it was wasted with the first flood that came because it just wasn’t enough.” Overall, for someone to do this to their own stream bank, more vegetation is key. The total cost for the project was $652,000. The total cost included the design for $89,000, the construction for $542,000, and the five years’ monitoring for $21,000. The funding support was provided by Tyson Food, Inc., the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and private landowners. The construction started in December 2017 and ended in February. “We are very happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to see how well it stands with time,” said Herrington.

June 2018 • Page 15

CANOE from 1

MURAL from 1

When he began the adventure of building his own cedar wood canoe in November last year, he found a gentleman in Mount Vernon who used to build canoes and still had the forms to do it. “He is no longer able to build anymore, so I bought the forms from him. I was very fortunate to find them from him,” said Coursey. The designs that Coursey bought formed the whole of the canoe, and the next step was to attach the wood to form the canoe. “The forms are actually a part of a kit that I used to build the canoe,” said Coursey. “I was wanting it to be done by the spring, but it was needing another few months of work on it.” Coursey wanted air boxes in his canoe, but also wanted them to have the option of being dry boxes as well, so he made some minor changes to the basic canoe kit. “I put my own twist on it with the dry boxes and I put in two seats that I made on my own,” said Coursey. “I got into some steam bending with the seats.” Coursey also added a fishing rod holder on each end of the canoe. He and his wife go to Springfield Lake to fish often. “Springfield Lake is a nice, quiet place we like to go to,” said Coursey. To finish up his canoe, Coursey found a stain that would work with the epoxy he had that makes the canoe waterproof. “My favorite part about the process is that I’ve been a carpenter for years and this is a different of that, learning patience and not getting into a rush,”

Rocky Falls and Akers Ferry, with the National Park Service arrowhead emblem as the focal point at the center of the mural.! “This mural is an outstanding piece of artwork and is beautifully done, considering the artist painted from photos because he was unable to visit the park himself,” said Johnson. “We are grateful for this wonderful donation and we thank the South Central Correctional Center and the artist himself for enriching others in this way.”!! South Central Correctional Center participates in the Restorative Justice Program that is offered throughout the state by the Missouri Department of Corrections.! Restorative Justice is based on the philosophy that when a crime is committed, a debt is incurred.!The program holds the offender accountable, encourages them to reflect on the harm caused by their criminal actions, and provides a means for them to repay their debt to the community.! Restorative Justice also provides the offender with an opportunity to leave the corrections system with an improved attitude and sense of belonging, and potentially with additional skills they can use after their release.! Inmates at the South Central Correctional Facility have also created pieces of artwork, quilts and other items that have been donated to local organizations.!! The mural was installed for display in the Van Buren Visitor Center by the volunteers from the park’s Heritage Workshop.!It will remain on display in Van Buren for the rest of 2018, after which it will be stored in the park’s archive.!

said Coursey. The hardest thing, according to Coursey, was creating the balance of the canoe. “Getting the balance of the canoe was a difficult task, as well as the first thing I steam-bended,” said Coursey. “But after learning how and getting the hang of it, it made a world of difference.” Coursey has taken his canoe out a couple of times since completing it and said that it “handles incredibly well and yet holds a straight line.” “I love going out and enjoying it and being able to enjoy something that I made myself and do whatever I want in it,” said Coursey. Coursey plans to continue to making canoes, starting with one for each of his daughters. “I am also looking into canvas canoes... I think those would be cool to make,” said Coursey. “The canvas canoes are more involved with the steam building because you’re having to build the whole structure and make several bows in the wood. “It was kind of an amazing experience building it. I learned so much just talking to several people who have built one and watching and reading up on everything.” For more information about the canoe or Halfway Paddle Company, check out Coursey’s Facebook page — Halfway Paddle Company & More.

Volunteers Steve Eikerman (left) and Jim Price from the park’s Ozark Heritage Workshop mounted and framed the mural for display in the Van Buren Visitor Center.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.



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June 2018  
June 2018