Rural Missouri Magazine

Ice water in August
Big Spring

by Jim McCarty

Big Spring

Float 4 miles below Van Buren on the Current River and an interesting phenomenon occurs. Even on the hottest August day, the bottom of an aluminum canoe becomes so cold that bare feet cannot take the icy chill.

You’ve just passed Big Spring, the largest single-outlet spring in North America. At its peak the spring can dump as much as 800 million gallons of frigid water into Current River. Daily flow records kept since 1921 show an average of 256 million gallons per day flow from the spring. Dye tracings have shown the water comes from as far away as Willow Springs, 50 miles as the crow flies.

For centuries Big Spring has been a popular gathering place on hot summer days. Now managed as part of the National Park Service, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the spring is part of a large park that includes trails, campgrounds, a dining lodge and picnic pavilions suitable for large groups. Also part of the park is an historic area with rental cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era program that created jobs for the unemployed.

Canoe rentals in Van Buren will put you in Current River and pick you up at the park.

For more information on Big Spring call (573) 323-4236.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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