Go to the Ozarks

9 years 11 months 2 weeks ago October 13, 2006 Oct 13, 2006 Friday, October 13 2006 Friday, October 13, 2006 6:05:58 PM CDT in News

Most Ozark streams are clear, cold, and fast-moving. Those qualities come from water deep within the earth, and that water emerges in a spring.

There are more than 50 springs in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The indians called this blue spring because of its intense blue color.

Each spring here has its own characteristics and forms in a very interesting way.

"Karst topography is what makes everything work in this area. What it is, is it is limestone rock that has been eaten away by water and has been dissolved. So when the rain comes down, it comes in and flows down into sinkholes or down through the limestone and into the underground aquifers and then springs such as this one ... pop out."

Springs normally rise in pools and cascade into what is called a spring branch. The spring branch generally flows less than a mile to a larger river, such as the Jack's Fork or current.

Only a few of the larger springs are well-developed and easily accessible to visitors. Alley Spring is one of them. Indians clustered near the spring thousands of years ago, and in 1839, Alley Spring was built to grind wheat and corn for local farmers, and what a picturesque place for a mill it was. Alley Spring pumps 81 million gallons of water per day into the Jack's Fork River.

Others along the stretch of rivers are round springs located on the current river, which increases the river's flow by 40 million gallons of water every day.But the mother of all springs in Missouri is called Big Spring. As much as 800 million gallons of water have poured out from openings in these limestone bluffs. The beautiful spring, with its constantly bubbling waters, is the largest in Missouri, the fourth largest in the U.S., and the ninth largest in the world.

Another interesting place is Rocky Falls. Rocky Falls is a place where during the summer you may see people playing in the water or on the rocks or just enjoying the beautiful scenery. It forms where Rocky Creek falls over this rock ledge and eventually flows into the current river.

The natural phenomena of springs and waterfalls is not only amazing, but the scenery around them can be breathtaking. Visitors and park staff say one of the best times to visit southeast Missouri is during the autumn when the hills are vibrant in color.

The peak of that fall color will likely occur over the next two weekends.For a link to the fall color report, go to KOMU.com.

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