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Bennett Spring State Park is located in the heart of the Ozarks where a large natural spring feeds sparkling clear water to thousands of rainbow trout stocked daily. Feed your cravings at the rustic Dining Lodge. Built in 1930, the Dining Lodge offers a varied cuisine or just bring in your catch and they’ll cook it for you! Bennett Spring State Park has a variety of lodging options from motel rooms, duplex cabins, individual cabins and a four-plex unit. Enjoy a warm campfire while sleeping among the great Ozark Mountains. We have primitive campsites to full RV hook-ups. Explore the Ozarks first hand. Hike along miles of cleared trails and escape the everyday.

Experience Bennett Spring State Park 26248 Hwy 64A • Lebanon, MO 65536 For Information or Reservations: (417)532-4307 or (800)334-6946

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Welcome to Bennett Spring INSIDE Something for Everyone Bennett Spring State Park offers a little something for everyone in the family. ..............................................Page 5

Opening Day: Finally fishing!

The man with the plan

Anglers can get rid of their winter blues as March 1 opens the trout season. .............................................Page 12

Bennett Spring State Park Director Gabe Dumond talks about the future of the park and what he has accomplished since taking over. ..........................................Page 17

Friendly people, friendly place From Brice to Bennett There once was a time when Bennett Spring State Park was the village of Brice, Mo. ..............................................Page 7 PAGE 4

Just a few miles up the road, Lebanon, Mo., offers unique shopping and entertainment opportunities. ...........................................Page 15

Hooking the little ones The first Saturday in May is set aside for kids to fish free and get hooked for a lifetime. ............................................... Page 21 WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING

Something for everyone From biking to hiking to fishing, there are a ton of activities at Bennett Spring Centuries ago, the “Eye of the Sacred ne first drew the sage Indians to its banks. The clear blue waters are now known as Bennett Spring, the centerpiece of one of Missouri’s oldest state parks. Bennett Spring continues to entice nature lovers of every description. Situated in the Niangua River valley, the park offers many opportunities for trout fishing, camping, hiking, bird watching, swimming and picnicking. Not only are the recreational options diverse and intriguing, but the scenery is enchanting and breathtaking no matter what the season might be. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) completed many of the improvements and additions to the park during the 1930s. The rustic hiking trails carved out of the woods, the old stone bridge that arches over the waters of the spring, and the cozy park cabins welcoming weary fishermen all resulted from their efforts. The serenity of the park, however, was perfect from the beginning. A leisurely walk along the shaded Stream Trail reveals a stunning view of the clear spring waters. itness enthusiasts can opt to brave the rigorous seven-mile hike to the Natural Tunnel, while less-determined hikers may tread the two-mile Savanna Ridge Trail, which winds through the woods and atop bluffs overlooking the picturesque zarks mountains. Nature walks guided by park naturalists at the Nature Interpretive Center guarantee an authentic outdoor e perience. The nature center also houses e hibits e plaining the history of the spring and describing the natural environment of the park. WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING


A variety of free and interesting presentations and programs are available throughout the year. Bennett Spring’s most popular attraction is the fishing. Although the rainbow trout is not native to Missouri, it has become the state’s most popular sport fish since its introduction to the area. Until they are large enough to be released into the spring branch, the trout are raised at the recently renovated hatchery in the park. The regular trout season extends from the beginning of March to the end of October.

In November, the “catch-and-release” period begins and continues on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through February. Year-round the rainbow trout beckon fisherman from the Midwest and beyond. Although Bennett Spring State Park is most widely known for its fishing, its other amenities are readily available to those living within a day’s drive. When local swimming pools become overcrowded, the park’s impressive swimming pool can serve as an ideal alternative. When dinner at the same old restaurants seems un-


appetizing, the park’s dining lodge can impress dinner guests with its “down home” cooking. When the town’s event calendar is less than full, Bennett Spring area outfitters can provide thrilling float trips on the Niangua River. A trip to the nearby state park is also inexpensive and fun. Bennett Spring State Park is Lebanon’s very own Oz. Lebanon natives’ search for their hearts’ desire need not go any farther than their own backyard, Bennett Spring State Park. There truly is no place like home. ■ WINNER AWARD TOP 100

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From Brice to Bennett Bennett Spring State Park is one of Missouri’s first and most popular state parks, attracting a growing number of tourists every year. The third largest natural spring in the state of Missouri pumps 100 million gallons of water each and every day. Anglers from around the nation wade in the spring’s waters in search of lunker-sized trout, and those looking for adventures in camping and canoeing come in droves each year, but there was once a time when Bennett Spring State Park was simply known as Brice, Mo. During the 1920s, when America was enjoying prosperity following World War I, Bennett Spring (then known as Brice) was one of many areas considered by state planners to be preserved as a state park.



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A Dec. 12, 1924, article in the Laclede County Republican newspaper stated that Lebanon Chamber of Commerce President O.A. Mayfield requested that the state consider Bennett Spring as a park site. It said the first parcel of land, 8 1/2 acres that belonged to Josie Bennett Smith, would become a part of Bennett Spring State Park. The land was purchased from Mrs. Smith on Dec. 27, 1924. Several weeks later, another contract was signed between William Sherman Bennett, Mrs. Smith’s brother, and the state for the sale of 565.33 acres. Of that land, 427 acres can be traced as belonging to James Brice, who settled there in 1837. The land where today’s park store, office, dining lodge and hatchery buildings stand once belonged to the Bennett family. James Brice first came here while traveling in Missouri from Illinois in search of productive land and a healthful climate. He decided to stay at the beautiful spring area, which reportedly teemed with

wildlife. Elk, deer, wild turkeys and buffalo, even panthers, were said to drink from the enormous spring. Brice homesteaded 160 acres, which included the spring, and eventually homesteaded additional acreage that included all of the land and the spring branch area.

He built the first mill in the vicinity where early farmers brought their corn for grinding. The mill eventually was washed away during a violent rainstorm and flood. Brice, the first permanent settler in the Bennett Spring area, died in 1855 and is buried in the Bennett Cemetery.


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The Bennett family later settled at the spring area on land known as the Elmer Conn farm, site of the present Sand Spring Resort. The enterprising Peter Bennett built a mill at the spring outlet and Niangua River, which also was washed away in a rainstorm and flood. Bennett built a second mill, known as Bennett’s Mill, during the Civil War years. It became a center for tradesmen and farmers. The mill was too small to


accommodate the increase in business, so Bennett built a third mill and included a carding machine that prepared wool for the spinning wheel. He also built a sawmill in one section of the mill. As business continued to grow, Bennett decided to construct a three-story building, and he purchased equipment for it in St. Louis. Since the railroad track went only to Rolla, Bennett and his employees had to meet the train there and

haul the equipment to Brice in ox-driven wagons — a slow process over the rocky fords of that time. Peter Bennett married Anna Brice, the daughter of homesteader James Brice. After Brice’s death, Peter and Anna inherited the property. When Peter Bennett died in 1882, his son, William Sherman Bennett, continued to run the mill. Bennett’s daughter, Josie Bennett Smith, operated a hotel at Brice for many years. The Bennett Mill was destroyed by fire in 1895. Dr. John B. and Freeman Atchley built the last mill at Brice. Others who operated the mill in later years were J.E. Kelly, Mr. Runge and B.J. Usery. The mill stood as a landmark at Bennett Spring for sightseers and tradesmen alike. The Civilian Conservation Corps, which worked in the area during the 1930s, improved the mill. However, it later was destroyed by fire. The CCC also constructed a log dam, foot trails, a new bridge and many other buildings at the park. The spring valley already had become a popular camping site in the late 1800s as area farmers waited their turns at the mill.


According to a Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) brochure, campers would fish, hunt or visit with local townspeople to pass the time. By the turn of the century, recreation was gaining in importance at Brice. According to the DNR brochure, in 1900 the Missouri fish commissioner introduced 40,000 mountain trout into the spring, and a privately owned fish hatchery was built in 1923, the year before the state bought the spring and some of the surrounding area for a state park. The Brice Post Office was originally built as a log building on the riverbank and named after James Brice. In later years, it was located in a general store operated by William Sherman Bennett and his wife, Louie. The name of the post office was changed to Bennett Spring in 1939 and finally was discontinued in 1965. Arlie Bramwell was the last postmaster at Bennett Spring. It was reported that in the early 1900s that William Sherman Bennett had a number of cans of young trout emptied into the spring. The trout thrived in the cold waters, attracting many fishermen. Brice was the location where famed author Harold Bell Wright completed work on his classic novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills.’’ Wright also wrote “The Calling of Dan Matthews,’’ while he lived in Lebanon. In that book, Wright’s “Gordon’s Mill’’ actually was Bennett’s Mill. Today, one off the oldest original buildings at Bennett Spring in the Bennett Spring Church of God, organized in 1917 through the influence of William Sherman and Louie Boles Bennett, who donated land for the church site. In the 1950s, stone veneer was

applied over the wooden structure. It is the only original building that was in old Brice. “Aunt Louie’’ Bennett was pastor of the church for many years. Today, Bennett Spring Church of God is a very active church and is visited by many fishermen staying at the park each trout season. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Project Administration (WPA) were two new programs implemented by the U.S. government to put people to work during the Great Depression. Much work was done at Bennett Spring starting in November

of that year. The crews’ first tasks were to build barracks for themselves. They built a new dam, a bridge, a dining lodge, six cabins, a store and post office building, shelters, houses, roads and trails. They also renovated the old Atchley Mill. The men also constructed a second set of gravel-bottomed hatchery rearing pools and in 1935 built a new section onto the hatchery building. After the men left in 1938, they dismantled all but one of their barracks. Through the years most of the development at the park has taken place outside of the park’s boundaries as provide individuals built cabins, hotels, campgrounds and many other businesses. In 1969, Arlie Bramwell sold his wood and stone cabins to the state. Ralph Usery’s cabins were razed. Splan’s Resort was once a very busy place there. Vogel’s Resort was acquired by the state in 1980. In 1969, the Nature Interpretive Center opened at the park with George Kastler as the first naturalist, and in 1982 the park dedicated a new office and store building close to the dining lodge on the site of the original Brice. Later the park’s Niangua entrance was renamed the Bramwell Entrance in honor of Arlie Bramwell. An additional 1,650 acres of land to the south of the current state boundary was purchased in November 1988 to provide watershed protection for Bennett Spring itself as well as the park area. Each year has brought more improvements. Now, at 3,216 acres, the state park that arose around Peter Bennett’s spring continues to delight all comers.

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Every year, thousands of anglers shake off the winter blues by flocking to Bennett Spring State Park to celebrate the first day of trout season on March 1. Following on the heels of a mild February, March 1 proved to be a warm, sunny day for anglers to kick off the start of trout season at Bennett Spring State Park. By about noon on Opening Day the park store had sold 1,235 adult tags

and 75 children's tags. Near the dam, a mix of anglers from across Missouri — and out of state — were plying their fishing skills. George Tiffany, 15, of Florissant, said that he has been coming to Bennett Spring with his father since he

was two years old, but this was his first time to be present for the opening whistle. "It was awesome," Tiffany said. "I've always been wanting to do it. My dad told me all the stories. He went with his dad. So... it was fun."

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Tiffany admitted that it was a little cold earlier in the morning, but he said that the e perience was definitely worth it. "Bennett Spring State Park is the best park there is for trout fishing, he said. Centralia resident Leslie Creel is another veteran angler who was experiencing pening Day for the first time. Creel said that her husband had always wanted to try fishing on pening Day, and they decided to try it this year because the forecast called for mild weather. We got out here about 6 a.m. this morning. We were sitting in the water waiting, and we had our spots picked out and (were) waiting for the whistle at 6 30 a.m. Creel said that waiting for the whistle was cold but e citing. We caught a lot more fish and a lot bigger size, she recounted. It was crowded up toward this area, so we went down just a little bit, but it was still really fun. Unlike Tiffany and Creel, Bobbye Barnes, of dwardsville, Ill., estimates that she WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING

has been participating in Opening Day for about 20 or 25 years, and she has been fishing at the park for 39 years. It s just beautiful, and I love to fish and always meet nice people — just have a good time, Barnes said of fishing at the park. (It s) peaceful. St. Charles resident Dan Chaplin was fishing with his brother, Lyndell Chaplin of uincy Ill. Chaplin has been visiting the park since he was in grade school and he said that in 1976 Life magazine visited Bennett Spring and ended up running a photo that showed his father, his mother, and his brother-in-law fishing at the park on pening Day. I was here, but I was on the other side of the bridge, Chaplin remembered. Nonetheless, he said was 18 years old the last time that he participated in pening Day. The brothers said they are both retired and the weather is nice, so they decided to come to Bennett Spring for pening Day.

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DISCOVER BENNETT SPRING STATE PARK Fall in love with the treasure that millions have already found. Camping (Tent or RV) Canoeing Restaurant Cabins Rafting Swimming Trout Fishing Bike Riding Hiking Picnicking Shipping Fly Fishing School Feed the Trout Shelter Houses Playground Nature Center

Bennett Spring State Park & Fly Fishing School Bennett Spring State Park • 26248 Hwy 64A • For information or reservations: 417-532-4307 or 800-334-6946

“The Basics” Fly-Fishing Class PAGE 14

Call for the 2017 class dates WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING

Friendly people, friendly place Visitors may wonder why the folks they meet at Bennett Spring State Park are so friendly. Well, that's kind of a thing around here.

Just a few miles east of the park on Missouri 64 is the city of Lebanon, which is proud of its motto: "Friendly people, friendly place." Lebanon also celebrates its history with Route 66, the “Main Street of America." Historic Route 66 brings travelers from throughout the world to Lebanon, eager to "get their kicks on Route 66." Visitors can learn more about the Route 66 era with a visit to The Route 66 Museum and Research Center, which has been featured in Best of the Midwest Travel Magazine.



This fascinating 3,500-square-feet museum is located in the Lebanon-Laclede County Library and has an extensive map collection and vignettes about the diners, gas stations, motels and communities built along Route 66. Admission is absolutely free. Lebanon also offers a variety of restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. It is home to the Shepherd Hills Factory Outlet, the world’s largest dealer of top-selling Case Knives. The huge store also offers so much more, including Ozark walnut bowls, Mikasa china and Denby pottery. There’s outstanding outlet shopping at The Mall, which offers jeans, shoes, housewares and other must-have items. Visit one of our many family-owned antique shops and be sure to stop in at the Heartland Antique Mall, which has more than 250 dealers and 40,000 square feet of antiques, a Russell Stover Candy Outlet, cheese outlet and crafts mall. The Kenneth E. Cowan Civic Center is the pride of Lebanon, a stateof-the-art, multipurpose facility with a 46,000-square foot exhibition hall, meeting rooms, a 675-seat theater, outdoor arena and grand foyer. This facility has been home to diverse


events such as rodeos, trade shows, concerts, demolition derbies, banquets, fairs, plays and weddings. In addition, NASCAR short-track racing has returned to Lebanon's I-44 Speedway with racing every weekend from April through September. You can also be sure to catch some mud-

slinging fun at our premier dirt track, Lebanon Midway Speedway. Golf is available at our GreatLife Golf and Fitness Center, a semi-private, 18-hole championship golf course located between Lebanon and Bennett Spring. The kids will love spending time at the beautiful parks and the Boswell Aquatic Center or visiting Whirlwind Ranch, an alpaca ranch where you can purchase hand-knit items made of soft alpaca yarn. Stay at a comfortable national chain hotel, a family-owned motel, a neon-lit Route 66 landmark, or a charming bed and breakfast. Whatever lodging you choose, you can count on Lebanon’s famous, friendly hospitality. You won’t go hungry when you visit. Whether you’re into Ozark barbecue, pizza, ethnic offerings, downhome comfort food or upscale cuisine, we have you covered. Come experience Lebanon’s fun, friendliness, character and diversity. You’ll enjoy the visit and you’ll be glad you came. For more information, please contact City of Lebanon Tourism Department toll free at (866) LEBANON, or visit the website at www.lebanonmo. org. ■


The man with the plan


isitors to Gabriel DuMond’s office will not find any posters or paintings on his walls. He is too busy as Bennett Spring State Park’s Natural Resource Manager to worry much about wall decorations. When he can be found, he is usually roaming the park, looking for problems to solve. “I do prefer to be out and about if I can be,” he said. Since he took over as the Natural Resource Manager in March of 2016 after J.D. Muschany retired, his responsibilities have increased. “It’s a very challenging job. You’ve got to wear a lot of different hats, but I like that, and I think it’s only going to improve as I gain experience in my job,” DuMond said.


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Park Director DuMond looks toward the future at Bennett Spring CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 Born in Montana, he grew up in Springfield, Mo. and graduated from SMSU, now MSU, with a degree in wildlife conservation and a minor in criminal justice. This is his 15th year with the Missouri State Park system. He spent five years as a park ranger in Stockton State Park and six and half years as the Southwest Zone Sergeant for the ranger program. He did his field training in Bennett Spring State Park early in his career and eventually came back when he became the assistant superintendent at Bennett Spring in May of 2013. He has made some improvements in his short tenure at Bennett. They are not what visitors notice immediately upon visiting the park but necessary and consequently important. A new sewer system was put in below campground one, and the park’s drinking water system was retrofitted. He has current and future plans for the park. “What we are focused on right now is maintaining and improving what we have,” DuMond said. His future plans will be easily seen in the park. “Our most pending plan is getting a roof on shelter B. It’s long overdue. We will probably wait until fall since that shelter is so heavily used,” he said. on

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“What I am looking forward to down the road is getting some of our existing accommodations improved and renovated. A lot of the stuff we have here is getting older,” he said. The park, built in 1933, has 60 lodging units. “None of them are new except for the two up there at the spring that were built just a couple of years ago,” he said. DuMond said he has started the clearance process for building a new amphitheater for the park. The current amphitheater is un-

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usable, and DuMond plans to build the new one in the same general area but closer to the Nature Center. He also has plans for the park outside the fishing areas. “I’d like to see our stewardship program increase,” DuMond said. He specified the stewardship would target encouraging the original ecosystem of the park through the removal of invasive plant species like garlic mustard and lespedeza as well as an increase in prescribed burns in the park. “There’s a big focus in the park on the recreation side because we’re such a heavily trout fishing oriented park, but we’ve got a lot of acreage as well that has got some wonderful resources on it. We need to make sure we’re taking care of those too,” DuMond said. With a solid background in park management, clear cut plans for Bennett and a fine park to work with, DuMond has no reason not to do well. “I think Bennett Spring is about as premiere a park that you can find here in the state park system in Missouri. I don’t know that I could go to a better park and do the same job. You have a really fantastic resource here and I hope while I am here that I continue to do what I can to keep it that way,” DuMond said. With plans that will keep him busy, DuMond will probably not have any wall decorations any time soon.

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Hookin' the little ones

Free Kids Fishing Day draws hundreds to Bennett Spring Cool water and floating seeds from sycamore trees greeted young anglers for Kids ree ishing Day at Bennett Spring in une 2017. And then there were the trout. Hundreds and hundreds of trout. Megan ones, 1 , of Dittmer, Mo., said, “It’s fun. It’s a good e perience for kids who don’t go fi shing all the time. It’s a way for the parents to let them get outside and have fun. ones displayed the source of her fun on her stringer, large trout. Her father David ones has visited

Bennett Spring for several years. He cooks his fish the simple way, deep fried. He likes that Megan is old enough that she doesn’t need constant supervision and he can enjoy just watching her fish. or others it is all about teaching their kids the fine art of fishing. Chris Lavery of Archie, Mo., brought his grandson Cannon for the first time. Cannon hadn’t caught any fish, but as Chris said, “It ain’t over yet. Cannon said of the event, “I think it’s awesome.

Some had already achieved success by using a system. The Hughes family of Columbia, Mo., had one kid fishing, one standing by with the net, one on standby, dad supervising and mom ready to step in when needed. amie Hughes, father to ohn, 3, and Tate, almost 3, and Holland, 5, said, “This is our second year. Last year Holland caught a 2 1 2 pounder. Their mother, Kari Hughes, supervised the whole process.

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Holland took the rod when her brother lost interest in reeling in a fi sh. When it was netted, Holland said, “Dad, let’s eat that fish!” Carnie Cassidy of Springfield, Mo., brought Kael Cassidy, 4, to fish. Carnie said, “I love it. It’s a great opportunity for your kids to learn to fish. Just being outdoors is wonderful for your kids instead of being indoors and playing on games and stuff.” Some anglers thought they had spotted Bigfoot, but it was Dillon Walker with Big O Tires promoting the company and celebrating the 100th year of Missouri Parks by


giving out free items to the kids like sun visors. Kids had another source of free stuff. When they picked up their free tags, kids got a goodie bag from the Missouri Department of Conservation with brochures on snakes and birds and a big sack of fish food. Booths and a free meal awaited kids at noon. But the best free stuff kids found in the water. Graham Carpenter, 10, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., has been fly fishing for 2 years now. His dad, Chris Carpenter, said Graham was a bit disappointed in his performance Saturday, but he did well last year. “I caught 53 fish the last time I

was here. I like catching fish,” he said. Jessie Huntley with the Missouri Department of Conservation said of the turnout on Kids' Free Fishing Day, “It’s smaller than usual.” Approximately 300-400 kids had picked up their free tags and goodie bags by 9:30 a.m. The biggest turnout of the past was nearly 1000 kids. Aaron Ross from Springfield, Mo., said, “I like it. There’s enough space for everyone. It’s not shoulder to shoulder.” Huntley said of the event, “The kids really enjoy it, and that’s what it’s all about.”


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Take a trip down the Niangua

Float trip enthusiasts have many options in the area along the river. Bob Burns, owner and founder of NRO (Niangua River Oasis) Canoe rental says a float trip is a good way to enjoy a warm summer day. “This is a nice river, it’s a good way to get out and just have a good time,” he said. “Its a good spring-fed river. We’ve got water patrol and it’s protected. There’s security at the camp-

ground, you can bring the family.” Burns said the campground provides both a quieter area for families, but also a place for the college kids “who want to get a little noisy. They can have a good time, too.” He said NRO offers different options, from four-mile trips up to 14mile trips on the Niangua River. “They can come and get on the water. They can swim, they can just relax

and take their time coming down the river.” In addition, to canoes, Burns said people can also rent kayaks, rafts and tubes. “There’s a lot of people that like to go down the river in a tube, it’s a lot of fun,” Burns said. Some people go in their own boats. Despite a slow start with the excess rain this spring, Burns said the summer season so far is going well.



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Lebanon has comfortable hotel rooms with all the amenities plus shopping, dining, and more just a few minutes from Bennett Spring State Park. Go to for more details on visiting Lebanon.

• Guns • Ammo •Archery • Camping Gear • Fishing Supplies

490 S. Jefferson • 532-8288



Canoe Trip Tips “A lot of rains and floods, it kind of slowed us down a little bit, but all through une, it’s been very, very good, he said. Brian Wilson of ne- yed Willy’s Campground and Canoe Rental also said they offer different options for float trips. “We offer three float trips, an eight mile, a five mile and a one mile tube trip, Wilson said. “The lengths are not equivalent to hour-wise, in a canoe it’s a little faster than in a raft or a tube. “Usually in a raft or a tube you can figure a mile an hour or in a canoe you can probably travel like two miles per hour, Wilson said. Another option offered is a one mile tube float. “If people want to just come down in the afternoon after work to cool off, it takes about an hour and a half, he said. “We take you up and you float back to the campground. Wilson said people preparing for a float trip should bring sun screen and what they want to have with them on the river for the day. Also, if they want a little quieter time on their trip, they may want to stay away on Saturdays. “If you want to miss the crowd, you need to float any day but Saturday, Wilson said. “The Niangua’s really busy on Saturday. If you want to miss the crowd, come Monday through riday or Sunday. ver the summer, he recommends people call ahead, because the river will be really busy. WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING

ight to 10 miles is a good length for a leisurely day on the river. With a stop for lunch on a gravel bar, an eight-mile float should take four to five hours. Wear the right shoes, a hat and sun screen. A tight-fitting water shoe keeps out gravel and has a sole with protection for short hikes. Missouri law prohibits glass containers and foam coolers on the water. Coolers must fasten shut to avoid spilling the contents. Keep everything in your boat tied down in case you dump. Children must wear floatation vests. Alcohol is permitted on all rivers. State law bans beer bongs and containers holding four or more gallons of alcohol. ederal restrictions ban beer bongs, kegs and ell- shots. utfitters hand out mesh bags for aluminum cans and other litter. Help keep the rivers clean by picking up debris. ou may see bald eagles, kingfishers, great blue herons, beaver, mink, otter and turtles on an zark float trip. Most of the snakes are harmless banded water snakes. All wildlife is protected leave it alone A float trip is not a license to party. Law enforcement officials watch for drug use, underage drinking and nudity. Most floaters are on the river to enjoy nature. Respect others by controlling your noise. If you want to float with a crowd, go on summer Saturdays. n most other days, you’ll have the river to yourself. Spring and fall floats are the best. PAGE 25

New manager brings fresh ideas to Bennett Spring Nature Center P

atricia Chambers is about to finish up her first year as Bennett Spring Nature Center’s manager, and she’s happy with the additions she’s made in her short tenure. Chambers wanted to offer more in the park programs, and the list is long. “We’re doing more park programs in the park rather than in the Nature Center, so we’re doing story times in the playground area, we’re doing some that look back at our history and cultural resources, and we’re continuing on with what the previous manager was doing with the resource programs, Chambers said. ne change means more opportunity to utilize the Nature Center. The hours for the Nature Center will change in uly. It will keep its 10 a.m. to 00 p.m. hours but e pand to 7 days a week. Another new program is the park’s Bennett Spring Stream Team. “It was created when a fisherman approached the hatchery manager and me, concerned about all the trash that’s left behind at the park, she e plained. The first Stream Team cleanup inside the park itself was in May 2017 and will be an annual event. Chambers also introduced the

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Photo Walk with professional photographer and writer Al Griffin walking a trail with novice shutterbugs and giving critiques and professional tips for taking great nature photos. A Memory Lane event on une 10, 2017, presented photos from the park’s past and had guest speakers who know park history not often

shared with the public. Another new focus for Chambers is encouraging volunteerism. The zark Master Naturalists chapter volunteered to check the walking trails in the park to improve them as well as provide educational programs.

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10221 Hwy 64 (Between Bennett Spring State Park Entrances)



These are often retired teachers, gardeners or anyone with specialized natural knowledge. For April’s Earth Day, the OMN chapter set up 15 tables with various nature activities like a live turtle display and nature-based games. “Cub Scout Pack 2557 picked up trash and challenged others to pick up trash,” Chambers said, “and really helped to clean up the environment.” Another part of Earth Day was a youth challenge. “They had to create a video on Earth Day, and a portion of it had to be done at Bennett Spring,” Chambers said. Rielly Hash, a student of Eric Adams at LHS, won 2017’s video challenge.

Chambers challenged the LHS students to come to the park for Earth Day. “Fifty-one students came out, and they did trail work, scrubbed the fish hatchery runs and picked up trash,” Chambers said. LHS teacher Laura Latall took responsibility for organizing the kids. Chambers was proud of their work. “They actually took wheelbarrows of rock for a mile onto the trail. There were 5 people or more to a wheelbarrow, and they took turns and problem-solved as a team to get that wheelbarrow full of rock over a mile back onto the trail,” she said. “People were amazed because they were having a good time. They were singing

and taking turns. I could not have done that work by myself.” Volunteers also work in the Nature Center. Formally campground hosts, they continue to help people. A smaller addition to the Nature Center lineup by Chambers is publicizing events. “Most every Saturday morning, we have a hike, and in the afternoon, we have a program,” she said. Both now appear on the Bennett Spring page of the Missouri State Parks web site. The Cedar Hill, Mo., native is a Missouri Baptist University graduate and has worked either full-time or seasonally for the parks since 1994. She has already made a number of changes at the Nature Center and in the park in a brief time.




Welcome to Our Community

3 2 6 5



1 1

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344 State Rd. E. • Tunas, MO (877) 347-1718 • Hours: M-F 8am-5pm • Sat 10am-3pm • PAGE 28


Lead Mine Area Merchants Leadmine is just a short drive from Bennett Spring! Come out and have a homemade lunch, enjoy authentic products, handmade quilts and baked items. Country Lane Furniture 3

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....................................... 1571 Hwy 65 • Tunas, MO 65764 Mon., Tues., & Thur. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fri. till 6:00 p.m. • Sat. till 5:00 p.m. Closed Wed. & Sun.


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Experience Life in the

Visit our newly enlarged, renovated restaurant!

“Past” Lane!

Books on Country Living & Mennonite Life and History

•Dry Goods •Gifts •Housewares •Kitchenwares •Handmade Toys •Handmade Soaps & Lotions •Candles & More •Homemade Ice Cream (Seasonal)

The Leadmine Restaurant is filled with good old-fashioned home cooking, homemade breads, buns and pies. Open 11am-2:30pm Monday-Saturday. Closed January-Mid March.

Open: 10:00am to 5:00pm Closed Sunday

Directions: West on Hwy 64, 10 Miles past Bennett Spring Park. Turn right on Hwy T, then on YY to Store. Follow signs. WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING


Bennett Spring Church of God turns 100

NOW & THEN Above, the Bennett Spring Church of God celebrated its 100th birthday in September. It has changed a little over the years. Left, a vintage photo shows the back side of the church several decades ago during a tent revival.


rea churches are getting older and some are steeped in history. The Bennett Spring Church of God marked its 100th birthday on Sept. 16. The church is located on one acre in the heart of Bennett Spring State Park just behind the Park Store and Lodge. “Our church family is very warm and welcoming to locals as well as visitors to Bennett Spring. We are not only excited to celebrate the PAGE 30

history of where our church has been, but the present and future God is leading us to. We have high hopes the surrounding community will attend and share in this important milestone with us,” Pastor Matt Stowe said. The printed history of the church centers on three families: the Brice, Bennett and Bolds families. In 1893 George Bolds from Anderson, Ind. moved into the area and began holding yearly camp meetings in the Bennett Spring valley.

He preached and his wife and three daughters sang. ne evening during the first camp meeting, he was too sick to preach and asked his daughter Louise, 16, to preach in his stead. This began her preaching career, and she later became known later as Aunt Louie and Mother Bennett. At this first camp meeting, 38 men and women were converted and baptized in the cold spring branch water. WELCOME TO BENNETT SPRING

Matt Stowe preaches during a service at Bennett Spring Church of God. One of the converts, W. Sherman Bennett, married Louise Bolds the next year. He was the inheritor of land originally homesteaded by the Brice family and the land the Bennett family tract of land where the Sand Spring Resort and Restaurant are located today. According to the church’s history, during a 1917 camp meeting, God gave W. Sherman Bennett the vision to build a church. It was completed late in 1917 and Mother Bennett was the pastor until 1924 when the state of Missouri purchased most of the Bennett property with the exception of the one acre where the church stands for the creation of Bennett Spring State Park.

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During World War II, rationing of gas, tires and more ended regular services at the church, which began to deteriorate. Ralph and Willa Jean Evans Usery, who had moved away from the spring valley when the war began, returned in 1945. Willa Jean Usery, according to church history, had a vision to restore the church and begin a Sunday

school class. Once again, Mother Bennett began preaching every Sunday. When Willa Jean Usery died in 2000, the church had its largest overflowing attendance in its history. The church has added a building that has a three-bedroom parsonage, a fellowship hall with the pastor’s office and classrooms on the second floor.

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Get in the zone

FISHING REGULATIONS The spring branch is stocked daily during the regular fishing season, which is March 1 through Oct. 31. Daily permits are required to fish on the spring branch and zones are set aside for different kinds of lures. Permits are available at the park store. or more information, call (417) 532-4307. ZONE 1: From the hatchery dam upstream to the end of the area. nly flies are permitted.

All flies and artificial lures are prohibited, even if natural bait or scent has been added. Zone areas are marked in the park and maps are also available in the Park Store. Trout Fishing Hours March: 6:30 a.m./7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m./7 p.m. April: 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May: 6:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.

ZONE 2: From the hatchery dam to the whistle bridge. nly flies and artificial lures are permitted.

June and July: 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

ZONE 3 rom the whistle bridge to the Niangua River. Only soft plastic bait (unscented), natural and scented bait are permitted.

September: 7:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.

August: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

October: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Make it a great day... Make it a GreatLife. n’s a m r Fishpeecial S


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with T

Premiu m 18 Hole Golf Course Public Alway Welcoms e!

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Look for the Bright LED Signs! 12972 HWY 64 • LEBANON • (417) 588-8858



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417-588-9110 or 800-IS-TROUT • Adjacent to Bennett Spring State Park

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Welcome to Bennett 2018  
Welcome to Bennett 2018  

A visitor's guide to Bennett Spring State Park located in Bennett Spring, Missouri.