Ozark Rivers of the Past

“Only going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

If I could ever spend time with a person of the past it would be John Muir. He explored the wilderness in the 1800s. The majority of the time he was alone. Him and the creatures that inhabited the area.

His love for the mountains was comparable to my love for the Ozark rivers of Missouri. His books and essays were influential in my admiration and respect for nature.

I can only imagine what kind of experience it would have been to explore the Ozark rivers in the 1800s.

Many times when I am camped on a gravel bar sitting in front of a fire, I find myself fantasizing about what it would have been like back then.

I imagine what the water would have been like free of pollutants. River banks and gravel bars void of litter and unmolested by ATVs. A place not yet touched by the hand of man and his idea of progress.

Without the infringement of artificial light, created by near by towns and dusk to dawn lights, the stars had to have the appearance of magnificent diamonds in the night sky.

It boggles my mind to think one would probably not see another human for days or weeks. One would experience the true feeling of being alone. Lost in the magnificence of Mother Earth and Her beauty. I can only imagine.

The Ozark rivers of Missouri gives one an avenue to seek and find one’s inner being. A place to observe the true beauty of Mother Earth. A place to heal their spirit and cleanse their soul. To enjoy it one must clear their mind and become one with the river. Then and only then can you understand my love for the Ozark rivers.

November Day On The River

The weather in Southeast Missouri was exceptional today. It was in the sixties!!! When I heard today’s forecast on Thursday I started planning for today.

When I got to the Leadwood Access on the Big River the air temperature was 35 degrees. I started down river around 8:45 a.m.. I am guessing water temp was in the low forties. Water was clear and dropping.

I had decided I was going to use the Rapala floating minnow, Rebel medium Wee Craw and a jig with a crawfish trailer.

Started out wind was calm but picked up about 10 am. Beautiful blue sky with some cloud puffs. Lots of sunshine and the temp began to rise.

My float started at the Leadwood Access on the Big River located in Missouri. The fishing started out slow and pretty much stayed that way. I did manage to catch 4 but only got pics of three.

I caught a spotted bass that went 10 inches but when I put it on the board to measure him he slipped out of my hands and back into the water before I could get a pic.

Caught this spotted bass fishing the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

Caught this small mouth near the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

The beautiful fall colors of the Missouri countryside had fallen to the ground for the most part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe next year.

I caught two before lunch. Missouri streams can be tough fishing in late fall when water temps have become frigid and clear enough to see a crawfish on the bottom in 4 foot of water. It’s a shallow river for the most part. The stretch I floated probably had an average water depth of 4 foot.

Lunch on a gravel bar on the Big River. After lunch I couldn’t buy a hit. I had several small bass and perch follow the lure all the way to the boat but didn’t take the bait.

The last two bass I caught at the end of my float. I caught them in Owl Creek. It dumps into the Big River at the Bone Hole Access where my float ended.

If you are ever up for some good small mouth fishing I recommend the Big River.

Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that. – Eartha Kitt

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

 

Until Next Year!

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“Time will pass and seasons will come and go.” – Roy Bean

The end of the fishing season on the rivers here in Missouri for me has come to the end of the season.  On sunny days I will still float the river but fishing will have to wait until spring.

I know you all are probably getting tired of hearing my fishing stories so I will keep today’s blog short.  I put in the river at 8:30 a.m. and the temperature was 30 degrees. The “weather guessers” were calling for a high of 60.  The fourth cast of the day I caught a largemouth bass.  It appeared the fishing would be good toaday.  So I thought.

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The wind was a force I really didn’t want to deal with.  At one point I was going through a shallow, swift area of the river when a wind gust hit me head on and actually pushed me and the yak back up river against the current.  It made it pretty difficult to fish.

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That morning I caught 2 large mouth bass and one smallmouth bass.  Oh well a bad day on the river is better than a good day at work.  After lunch it didn’t get any better.  I caught 1 smallmouth and 2 perch and that was it.  It wasn’t the way I wanted to end the fishing season but next season will be here before we know it.

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It was a good year.  The Big River really is becoming a trophy smallmouth bass area.  The largest one I caught, actually put in the boat, was 16 inches.  Here in Missouri it takes approximately 7 to 9 years for them to grow to 15 inches.  I also caught a 19 inch largemouth and an 8 pound channel cat.

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I want to thank my high school friends David Tripp and Mark Nelson for taking time out of their busy schedules and doing some fishing with me.  I had a good time and hope you two did also.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is very much appreciated.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Photography is one of my passions.  Remember to spread the love, be kind to each other and above all, respect each other.

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All the photos were taken on the Big River near Desloge, MO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Us Not Bury the Past

 

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In Memory of

Thomas Robert Burnette

January 31, 1915 – November 14, 1992

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“Mining is a dangerous profession.  There’s no way to make a mine completely safe: These are the words owners have always used to excuse needless deaths and the words miners use to prepare for them.” – Tawni O’Dell

Mr Burnette was a resident of Flat River, MO and he worked in the lead mines.  He worked at the St. Joe Lead Number 9 mine in  Farmington, MO and at the Pea Ridge Mine. He dug ore for nearly 30 years.  When he worked in the mines they didn’t do blood tests to check for lead poisoning.   During his time in the mines he cut a finger off and got caught between two ore cars and suffered a broken hip that had to be pinned.  After he healed up, back in the mines he went and worked there until he suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire at the age of fifty-eight.  His daughter remembered seeing his checks and said he cleared fifty dollars a week.  He was married and reared five children.  He is just one of many who worked in the mines and his family is just one of many that have all the memories of their families working in the mines.

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The Old Lead Belt is located deep within the eastern Ozarks of Missouri.  The Southeast Missouri lead district is a major part of the lead belt and has been a major player in Missouri’s economic and social fabric for more than 280 years.  In early 1700 a European by the name of Pierre Charles LeSeur led the first mineralogical expedition into the Mississippi Valley.  Missouri’s ore deposits have made it the nation’s major source of ore for over 90 years.  The abundant ore deposits brought thousands of workers to Missouri, where over the years they created 1,000 miles of abandoned multilevel mine tunnels,  300 miles of underground mainline railroad tracks and a legacy of 108 years of mining operations in the area.

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Drum roll……………., I am stepping onto my soap box.  Here is my beef.  In 1923 St. Joe Lead CO. purchased the Federal Mill No. 3 lead-concentrating complex.  They all ready owned nearly 950 acres in Bonne Terre that was bought in 1864.  In late 1975 they donated the Federal mine mill complex and its adjoining lands to Missouri for the purpose of creating a state park.  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources took possession of the 8,244 acre tract in 1976 and named it St. Joe Park and in 1980 the 25 acre mine mill was designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.

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I just visited the site along with Mr Burnette’s daughter and step son.  I am appalled by the way the state is letting the old mill fall into ruination.  I know money is tight but they could do more.  This site holds a lot of memories for the miner families in Bonne Terre, Desloge, Park Hills and the surrounding areas.  People died in these mines. Why let it die off?  This could be an amazing tourist attraction for these towns.  This site has so many possibilities.  There is so much history here.  PLEASE don’t let it fall down and disappear into the past.

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The 16,00 square-foot mine-mill powerhouse is being developed into a large museum providing information and the history of the mining business in Missouri with displays and old mining machinery and a huge collection of minerals.  It is a start but the site has the potential for so much more.

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In 1981 Doug and Cathy Georgens bought the rights to the Bonne Terre Mine and invested their money in the mine and have built it into a diving mecca.  They have daily tours also.  I have took the tour myself and it is fascinating.  The state of Missouri could save the history of mines in St. Joe and should do just that.  I urge them to set up a fund that people can give to the mine exclusively.  I also urge them to start funding the mine and start rehabbing the buildings.  Please for the sake of those that worked in and died in the mines save the mine.

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In closing I ask for anyone’s help in saving this mine.  Please write your representatives and if you haven’t, take the tour.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Help save the history of Missouri’s mines.

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Early Morning on the Bourbeuse River

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of which comes; so with present time.”  Leonardo da Vinnci

It was an early fall morning.  The temperature was in the forties and the fog seemed to be dancing as it rose from off the water.  As I shoved the yak off the boat ramp and out into the moving water my heart began to race with excitement.  The fog was so thick that it was blocking sunlight and it was somewhat of an eerie sight.  Fish had all ready began feeding and you could hear and see them hitting the top of the water.  I quickly paddled upstream to a point in the river where I would turn the yak downstream and fish my way back to the boat ramp.

I reached my destination and pulled up on a gravel bar and prepped my rod and reels and chose the baits I would tie on.  I slowly began my way back down the river and began casting.  Around the fifth cast I felt something pick up the Charlie Slider worm and take off with it.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  It wasn’t very big but I was using an ultra light with 4 pound test line which made it feel like a 5 pounder.

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Small largemouth bass.

As I floated and fished my mind began to work overtime.  I wondered; did Native Americans ever float this area, who was the first settlers that found this area, what is the biggest bass that was ever caught here etc..  I thought to myself how grateful I am to be able to see the beauty of the river first hand and experience the peacefulness that abounds in the early morning hours on the river.

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Bourbeuse River

As I floated around a bend in the river and eyed two deer drinking water at the end of a sand bar.  I was almost close enough to touch them when they noticed me and bolted into the woods.  Further down the river i came upon a beaver who wasn’t very happy with me trespassing on his part of the river. Wildlife is abundant on the river this morning.

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Bourbeuse River

As I approach the boat ramp I am overcome with some sadness as the morning float comes to an end.  It was a great morning.  The batteries were recharged and the mind was cleansed and the soul rejuvenated.  Caught some fish and filled my mind with the beauty of the river.  Life is good.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed and if you did be sure to let me know.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

 

 

A Day on the Lake

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“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  Henry David Thoreau

What a beautiful day in southeast Missouri!  I never did hear what the high was today but it had to be in the seventies.  My significant other told me I needed to go fishing this morning and I thought about it.  Longest two seconds of  my life.  Now to decide where to go.  I was torn between the river and the lake and finally decided to load the yak and head to Bismark Lake in Bismark, MO.

As I approached the boat ramp and laid an eyeball on the parking lot, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day for fishing.  I counted seventeen boat trailers.  Bismark isn’t a huge lake, it only consists of 210 acres.  That is when Thoreau’s quote went off in my head.  It was a beautiful day, I had my camera with me and it was a great day to relax.  After all, that is why I came.  If the fish were biting that would just be an added bonus.

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Bismark Lake

 

I unloaded the yak and loaded my gear into it.  I headed across the lake where I had caught fish before.  As I paddled across the lake I couldn’t believe all the boats on the water.  I thought to myself, I wonder how many of these guys knew they really weren’t after fish.  I chuckled out loud and continued my trek across the lake.

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Soft shell turtle sun bathing

Well I am hear to tell you, those fish had lock jaw I tells ya!  I threw everything I had at them (forgot the dynamite).  I didn’t get to the lake til eleven.  When I saw all of those boat trailers I knew any place I fished would have all ready been fished hard.  Talk about PPing on my parade.  Oh well it adds new meaning to “The early bird gets the worm.”  Like my mom used to tell me,”That’ll learn you dern you.”

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Bismark Lake

Even though  I didn’t catch any fish it was a great day to be outside, on the lake, in the yak and spent a good half hour trying to get a pic of a beaver.  He was really camera shy.  Maybe he was afraid the camera would steal his soul.

 

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Bismark Lake

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Soft shell turtles

Well the time came to head back to the truck.  My spirit had been recharged and my soul cleansed.  I had been fishing in the back of a cove that was sheltered from the wind.  As I made my way out into the main body of the lake I noticed there was some choppy water ahead.  The waves would be hitting the side of the yak.  Not an idea situation and the first attempt almost sent me swimming.  I finally decided on another approach that would change the way the waves would hit the yak and after great effort I made it back to the ramp.

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Bismark Lake

Thanks  for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it and if you ever want to fish Bismark Lake I would be glad to give you a tour of the lake.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

 

The River

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Too many times we stand aside and let the waters slip away

’til what we put off ’til tomorrow has now become today

so don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied

choose to  chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide…

Garth Brooks/ The River

Hello everyone!  How about this weather in the midwest?  It feels like May has arrived early.  Very mild temps and lots of sunshine.  I definitely have “River Fever”.  I can hear it calling my name.

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I have been drawn to the river.  It is a place where I can go and relax and recharge at the same time.  It is a great place for photographers and artists to attempt to capture the beauty of nature.  Time spent at the river will mend a broken heart and help a person to deal with the death of a person close to them.  The perfect place to meditate, clear your head, and do nothing at all.  A place to take the family and enjoy time spent together.

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Smallmouth Bass caught on the Big River

I am an avid fisherman and kayaker.  I love spending time on the river in my yak and fishing.  Some days I even put bait on the hook.  I usually fish using an ultra light rod and reel with 4 pound test line.

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

I love the mystique of the river. When I float and fish a new section of river my mind begins to wander, what is around the bend?  How deep is the water.  Who has been here before me.  Did early settlers use this river? etc..

My favorite time on the river is night time for sure.  You aren’t living until you have been serenaded by a bunch of chirping crickets and croaking frogs with a beaver keeping time with the rhythm by slapping its tail on the water and the distant howling of the coyotes.  Natures own natural choir.  The stars twinkle bright and sometimes you get to see a shooting star.  The river takes on a whole new life when the sun sets and darkness falls upon the river.

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  If you haven’g taken the time to explore the rivers I hope I have piqued your interest to do so.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

Hermann, Missouri

Oh Shenandoah, just to be near you, far away, far away, Cross the wide Missouri.- Shenandoah

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Missouri River at Hermann, MO

Hermann, Missouri is located on the Missouri River and is the county seat of Gasconade County.  The city was established in 1837 and dedicated in 1842.  In 1983 it was designated as first federally recognized American Viticultural Areas.  The designation recognized the renaissance of an area of vineyards and wineries established by German immigrants during the mid-nineteenth century.  My favorite winery is Adam Puchta.

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Down by the Missouri.

This day was in December of 2016.  Myself and the little woman got up one morning and decided it was a good day to take a road trip.  We had a good time that day and enjoyed the little German town.  The Missouri had a lot of ice on it.

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Hermann, MO

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Hermann, MO

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Ice on the Missouri

Some of the wineries in the area are Stonehill Winery, Hermannhoff Winery, and Adam Puchta Winery.  Don’t forget about their festivals.  Wursfest (fourth weekend of March), Maifest (third weekend of May), Garden Tours and Plant Sale (first weekend of June). Hermann Wine & Jazz Festival (August 19,2017), Hermann Heritage Day ( September 9-10, 2017) , Oktoberfest (every weekend in October) and Christmastime in Hermann (first tw0 weekends of December). tourism@centurytel.net  If you need a place to stay there are numerous bed and breakfasts, hotels and even a campground.

Well a big thank you to all of you that took the time to read my blog.  I hope you all enjoyed it and maybe we will bump into each other on the streets of Hermann, MO.  Be kind to one another, be safe, share the love and God Bless you one and all.