Closings and service reductaions due to Federal Budget Cuts announced.
The public will experience reduced hours and services provided by Ozark National Scenic Riverways due to the budget cuts that became effective March 1, 2013. Please check back often for further details or changes. List of closed facilities, click "MORE."
It can be kinda hard to find clean water in this world, sometimes you can't see the bottom of a river, it's polluted. This one out here is very nice - you can go to the Jacks Fork or the Current and look all the way to the bottom and see it's crystal clean. And it's a very nice river system which is why it's a national park on the same level as Yosemite or Yellowstone or any other national park.
Starting in 1868 people started coming to this region out here to Alley. The Mill itself was built in 1894 and as the mill was built, a hundred years ago you couldn't buy a sack of flour you couldn't buy a loaf of bread as we do today, it wasn't available. Being an Ozark farmer you didn't have money to go and spend on this bread or flour, even if it was available - which it wasn't. So you would have had to utilize a mill such as this one to have your grain ground down into a product you could use such as flour or cornmeal. So the mill was very important to people back then it provided that source of life. They used to call bread "the Staple of Life." There would be a loaf of bread on Ozarks tables whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, you could slice that off and have it with your meal. It was very important.
About a hundred years ago people would have brought their grain to Alley. They would have dropped it off here for the Miller to grind down, and they would have waited for that. They used to call that "milling around." For you kids that meant you were "hanging out" or "Wasting time", something like that. They would mill around, they would go to the mercantile store, get supplies, it was a time for people to socialize, you have to remember this was a time without telephones or e-mails, so when they came together it was a time for neighbors to catch up on old times and talk about the year past and everything.
Of course the water is our power, that's why the Mill is here. When I go over here and turn this wheel what I'm doing is opening up those flaps allowing the water to drain out and "kick" the machines into motion. There you go, a hundred and twelve years later it's still running, still operating. It was very important, these roller mills, because without them you wouldn't have had your daily bread.
So, you are all welcome to "go mill around" as they used to...
On behalf of the Department of Interior and the National Park Service we would like to welcome you to Ozark National Scenic Riverways, home of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers.
The natural and cultural resources of this scenic river way exemplify the beauty and diversity of the Ozark region of Missouri. The park boasts more than 300 springs.
The largest, Big Spring, is located on the lower current river close to Van Buren, Missouri. Big Spring rises through a jumble of giant boulders, forcing the water to flow between the rocks causing a dramatic turning and tumbling. Being the largest spring in Missouri and of the top three in North America, water from the spring would fill Busch Stadium in St. Louis in thirty-three (33) hours.
Big Spring is home to many species of plants and animals. Watercress, the water butter cup, speedwell and water moss all flourish in the cold water providing shelter for a large number of aquatic life forms. Periwinkle snails, crayfish, insect larvae and a variety of fish can be found in Big Spring. A wide variety of terrestrial wildlife including deer, otter and squirrels also utilize Big Spring as a part of their habitat.
With its wild beauty and clear water Big Spring has been a gathering place for people throughout time. The Civilian Conservation Corp known as the CCC arrived at Big Spring in the mid 1930’s hoping to conserve the areas resources and provide increased visitors facilities. The work of the CCC such as the construction of the dining lodge and fourteen cabins add to the historic significance of the area and are still utilized today.
Attending ranger led interpretive programs can increase your understanding and appreciation of Big Spring. Activities include guided hikes, education programs, evening programs and culture events such as our annual Heritage Days event.
The wildness of the countryside, the clarity of the water and relative remoteness from the outside world make Big Spring a peaceful escape from the demands of everyday life. Plan your next trip to Ozark Scenic River ways and join the generations of family and friends who have made Big Spring a tradition.
The wonderful thing about the Round Spring area is the glimpse it gives us of the world beneath our feet. We are used to the beauty of nature we see every day, the hills, the rivers, the trees and flowers, but seldom think about the beauty that lies hidden underground.
The spring itself, named Round Spring when an early settler described it as “round as a silver dollar” is really an underground river coming to the surface. Such underground rivers are common in the Ozarks. The cool blue color of the water is dissolved limestone being carried away in solution by the ever moving water. If we could wait a few million years, that water would carry away enough rock to form a cave. When a spring runs dry, a cave is left behind. A spring is a cave being born.
You can also visit the Round Spring Cave, a beautifully decorated cavern. This former spring system now reveals the work that was done by water in its millions of years of toil. Passages with sixty to one hundred foot ceilings wind through the Earth, decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and other intriguing rock formations.
Living things live here, although life is hard for them. It is an environment of total darkness, with little food. Animals that live in the cave show many adaptations to life in total darkness. Some use echolocation to find their way, others have extra sensitive antennae or other sensory organs in their skin. Most have small eyes or none at all, eyes just use up the body’s resources while returning nothing of value in the perpetual darkness.
Protected by the National Park Service as an important part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the Round Spring area is well worth a visit. The Round Spring can be visited year round. There are cave tours daily during the summer months, but they are limited to fifteen people. There is a campground, canoe rental and small store nearby for your convenience. See our website for all the details.
Alley Mill around the turn of the Twentieth Century.