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Contact: Dena Matteson, (573) 323-4814VAN BUREN, Mo. – The much-anticipated restoration of the historic Big Spring dining lodge and cabins is expected to begin soon at Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
The contract for the rehabilitation project was awarded to Blinderman Construction, Inc. from Chicago, Illinois, on April 6. Project managers have already been on-site to evaluate the structures, scout the local area, and begin development of the project schedule.
This project will rehabilitate historic structures within the Big Spring Historic District, including the park’s dining lodge, cabins, and former museum building. The work includes removal of non-historic finishes; repair or replacement of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; interior and exterior renovation; abatement of hazardous materials; and installation of fire suppression systems. Accessibility requirements of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) will also be addressed. The interior and exterior of one cabin will be made fully ABA-compliant.
The project also includes restoration of site features and the cultural landscape. Landscape rehabilitation includes addressing water drainage issues; replanting native and historic vegetation; stabilization of historic and non-historic stone retaining walls; repair or replacement of wooden stairs, stone steps, sidewalks, stone drinking fountains, and overlooks; repairing damage to the grounds caused by 2017 flooding; rehabilitation of trails, foot bridges, and walkways; and associated accessibility improvements. The Big Spring boat dock will be replaced with materials compatible with the historic district, and an accessible route will connect it to the lodge area.
Rehabilitating the cabins, dining lodge, and landscape will revitalize a historic district that features one of Missouri’s first state parks and one of the largest springs in the United States. Upon project completion, the park’s only concession-managed dining and lodging operation will again provide a historically rich, quality visitor experience in one of the premiere areas of the National Park System.
“We’re extremely excited for the project to begin and for the much-beloved lodge and cabins to once again welcome visitors from near and far,” Superintendent Jason Lott states. “I look forward to seeing everyone at the Big Spring dining lodge for Sunday brunch as soon as it’s open for business!”
Construction on the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins began in 1933 after the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established a camp at Big Spring State Park. By 1937 the energetic army of young men had built roads, installed utilities, cleared land for picnicking and camping, and constructed numerous facilities, including Big Spring Lodge and several of the cabins. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) arrived in 1938, constructing additional cabins and features like the boat dock before leaving the site in the early 1940s. 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 infrastructure development by the CCC and WPA at Big Spring remain one of the most impressive collections of Depression-era work projects in the state of Missouri.
Project updates will be posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/ozar and the park Facebook page (@ozarkriverways) once the project is underway.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves 134 miles of the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.
Learn more at www.nps.gov/ozar. Find us on Facebook @ozarkriverways and on Instagram @ozarkriverwaysnps.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Last updated: May 2, 2022