Big Improvements Planned for Big Spring

BS Cabin-CCC-npsphoto
One of the many CCC era structures at Big Spring.

NPS Photo

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News Release Date: March 25, 2014

Contact: Dena Matteson, 573-323-8028

VAN BUREN, MO: When the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed the now historic Big Spring Lodge and Cabins, the construction was a mighty undertaking. The National Park Service established CCC camps at both Alley Spring and Big Spring in 1933 for the purpose of developing infrastructure within the state parks. By 1937 the energetic army of young men had built roads, installed utilities, cleared land for picnicking and camping, and constructed numerous facilities, including the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins. The buildings were constructed from local materials and featured the rustic style of architecture that had been popularized by the National Park Service in other states. The results of the CCC’s efforts at Big Spring remain one of the most impressive collections of Depression-era work projects in the state of Missouri.

Almost eighty years later the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins remain a popular destination for many visitors to Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Although routine maintenance and minor upgrades have been implemented over the years, the annual operation of the lodge and cabins has prevented any major upgrades or restoration. While part of the attraction for visitors is the rustic charm, most of the buildings and associated infrastructure are in need of major repairs so these structures can continue to be preserved and enjoyed for years to come. 

In 2015 the National Park Service plans to begin several major restoration and rehabilitation projects throughout the Big Spring area. Historic architects have evaluated the CCC structures and made recommendations for preservation of the stone and timber construction. The buildings will be upgraded to improve aging electrical and plumbing and stabilize foundations. Some modern conveniences will be added while still maintaining the historic appeal through the use of fixtures consistent with the time period. Utility lines servicing the area will be replaced and upgraded. Landscaping projects will improve trails in the area and address the deteriorating conditions of the wooden and rock stairs, retaining walls, and boat dock. 

In addition to facility improvements, the park would like to enhance the recreational opportunities of the Big Spring area. In partnership with the Big Spring Lodge concession operator, the National Park Service hopes to reinvigorate the once very popular johnboat tours that help connect our visitors to the river.  There will be potential opportunities for a camp store, new interpretive exhibits, additional hiking and biking trails, and visitor programs. Under the next concessions contract we intend to allow our interpretive staff and concession operator to shine as they partner to share the rich history and wonderful ecosystem that exists in the park. 

Big Spring cabin reservations for 2014 can be made by contacting the park concessioner at (573)323-4423 or visiting their website at As the facilities will no longer be open pastDecember 31, 2014, our business partner, Big Spring Lodge will not be able to accept reservations after that date.  We are working with our partner at this time to continue to provide services throughout the remainder of the year. The facilities will remain open throughout the summer and fall seasons until the end of the year.

Because of the extent of the much-needed maintenance and repairs, it is anticipated that the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins will be closed to visitors for an extended period of time beginningJanuary 1, 2015. According to Riverways Superintendent Bill Black, “It is our intention to bring back the former glory and popularity of the Big Spring area. We plan to open these wonderful facilities as soon as possible and to work to enhance the concession opportunity that currently exists while continuing to provide an enjoyable experience for our park visitors”.

For information on Ozark National Scenic Riverways, visit the park Facebook page, the park website at phone (573)323-4236. Updates will be provided as the project progresses. 

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.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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P.O. Box 490
Van Buren, MO 63965


(573) 323-4236

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