Wednesday, April 22, 2015


The Missouri Ozarks comprises one of the nation's greatest concentrations of springs. In an average day more than a billion gallons of water flow from the ten largest springs in Missouri. There are more than 1,100 springs currently on record, however, many springs in the Ozarks still remain unrecorded, unmeasured, and unsampled.

Missouri Plateaus-Salem has the most caves and springs
Missouri springs are somewhat unique since they occur mainly in dolomite, not limestone—we have the largest number of large springs in dolomite anywhere in the United States. It's said our springs dissolve and move about 175 tons of limestone daily.

The principal spring region of Missouri is the Ozarks mountains. It’s an area characterized by deep, narrow valleys and sharp ridges in the eastern part—the Salem Plateau—and a gently rolling landscape in the western part—the Springfield Plateau.

While there are many springs within the Springfield Plateau, they’re not as large or as plentiful as the springs in the Salem Plateau.  The Salem Plateau has geologic formations that are capable of storing as well as transmitting large quantities of water through various spring outlets and the Ozarks have the highest sustained flows in the state.

Big Springs, Van Buren, Missouri
There are at least 10 first magnitude springs located in Missouri. First magnitude is a term applied to those springs that discharge a 100 cubic feet a second. One of the largest first magnitude springs in the nation (some sources say in the world) is Big Springs, located in Van Buren, Missouri. Big Springs discharges about 250-300 million gallons of water a day into the Current River. To give you an idea of how much water that is, think about the size of professional football stadium. Big Springs discharges enough water to fill that stadium every single day.

Greer Springs
The second largest spring in Missouri is Greer Springs which discharges 360 cubic feet a second—that’s 214 million gallons a day. It is a the site of the first gristmill on the spring branch, by Captain Samuel Greer. The old mill still stands as a piece of history.

Both springs have wilderness areas along with camping, fishing, cabins or lodges. If you like to canoe or do float trips (which I can personally tell you are fabulous) both are wonderful ways to enjoy the wild scenery on a hot summer day. There are miles of hiking trails. Both are incredible places to visit.

Boiling Springs. You can see the water 'boiling'.
The closest spring from my house, located on the Salem Plateau, is 10 miles away and is called Boiling Springs. The name is apt because the surface of this spring appears to boil. Don’t be fooled, it’s icy cold about 58 degrees. Further down the river (Big Piney River) is our favorite swimming area. Boiling Springs only puts out about 12 million gallons of water a day. So it’s small in comparison to Big Springs and Greer, but is 14th largest spring in Missouri. The former is about 3 hours from me and the latter is about an hour. Because Boiling Springs is so close we don’t think about the amenities but there are several places along the river for camping (both campgrounds and primitive camping) canoeing and float trips. Big Piney river has some great fishing if you enjoy that activity and my family does. 

Favorite swimming area on Big Piney River, near Boiling Springs. There is a very thick rope on the tree across the way to jump into the river, which is very deep over there. The shallows on this side are warmed by the sun and it's fun to sit in and watch swimmers jumping. If you sit still small fish will come up and investigate your feet. The water is refreshing on a hot summer day. When I'm tired of swimming I sit in a lawn chair in the sand and snooze or read. Further down the river, away from the swimming, has some great fishing.You can also harvest quite a number of crayfish to add to dinner.

Missouri springs are located in one of the most scenic sections in the nation.  Our springs are considered to be one of Missouri’s most important natural assets and are well protected and visited by hundreds of thousands of tourist and sportsmen each year.

Photos: Missouri Dept Conservation and personal


Hart Johnson said...

I didn't know any of this! I grew up in Idaho and there are a lot of springs there, some hot, some cold. The funnest ones are pretty secluded. Fun to learn a little about Missouri.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not swimming in that cold spring. Wow, they sure put out a lot of water every day.
Be sure to stop by today, Sia!

Jo said...

Fascinating Sia, but where does all that water come from? People often talk about water shortages and I have even heard it said that the next major war will be about water, and yet Missouri has all this water gushing out into the world. The photos are lovely and I would enjoy swimming and lounging in your swimming spot too. Missouri sounds like a wonderful place to live.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Those are beautiful. I had no clue there were so many springs.

cleemckenzie said...

Absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of plunging into some of that water.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

LOVE that you're featuring MO. It makes me want to explore it some more--especially north.

Sherry Ellis said...

That looks like such a beautiful place!

Mark Koopmans said...

That sounds like such a nice family holiday... I'm a huge ocean person, but I'd go to the Ozarks in a heartbeat now - as long as the sun was shining ;)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hart--the best ones usually are hidden. I've lived in Idaho and there are quite a few springs.

Alex--Yes, these springs put out an enormous amount of water.

The water is very cold beside the spring regardless of the heat of the day. Further down the river? Not as cold. The water has time to warm up in the sun.

The shallows--2 to 4 feet--are warm but the deeper water is cooler but NOT 58 degrees, lol!

Elizabeth--we have lots of springs and gorgeous country. :-)

C Lee--It's worth the plunge and loads of fun. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

JO--We get, on average, 42 inches of rain a year. There is a lot of water in Missouri. Our topography and climate are perfect for having that large amount of water and our water table is high. We also have some huge rivers.

There are places in the state that when it rains simply swallow whatever rain that falls into the underground caves and underground rivers. The soil isn't suitable for farming for that reason.

Snow melt effects the levels of some springs, but even in drought periods, the first Magnitude springs, like Big Springs, are still putting out close to 200 gallons a day.

While our rivers are clean the ground strata only roughly filter and clean the water. It still should be treated prior to drinking. Springs are susceptible to agricultural and industrial pollutants but there are some stringent laws to protect them. Which is why there has been a big push to clean out and remove garbage dumps from sink holes used by some very rural areas. That's been an ongoing project of the Dept of Conservation the past 10 years. They also do clean up of streams for the same reason.

If war breaks out over water, I'm staying in Missouri.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Theresa, it is a beautiful state we live in. I've enjoyed sharing the wonders. Our family have several exploratory trips planned this year.

SHERRY--It is lush and green in the summer and the water is beautiful and inviting.

MARK--we have lots of sunshine on a daily basis spring through fall. Winter gets a bit gray.

Seriously, it is a wonderful place for a family vacation. My home is 30 miles east of Fort Leonardwood and being military there is places on the Fort for families to stay...we're close to lots of cool things to see and do...Just sayin'

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

enjoyed :)

Sharon Marie Himsl said...

Missouri sure looks beautiful. Have always wanted to explore. A small town near Springfield.... Rader is named after my ancestors. I think it might be in the Salem Plateau region you describe. Have you heard of it?
Inventions by Women A-Z

Entrepreneurial Goddess said...

Hello there.
The scenery is beautiful. Wish I had enough $$$ to explore this beautiful earth, our very own God-given home.
Thanks for sharing. I'm visiting following a shout out over at Margo Kelly's blog.

Entrepreneurial Goddess

~Sia McKye~ said...

SHARON--yes, I've heard of Rader. Can't say I've been there. It's further west, right on the edge between the Springfield and Salem Plateaus. That area is also lovely and you should visit when you get the chance. :-)

MAC--glad you enjoyed it!

BARBARA--Thank you for stopping by. Yes, Margo surprised me with her comments on my blog. I agree, there are many, many beautiful places on this earth. While I've visited many there are so many places left that I'd love to explore!

Kern Windwraith said...

These springs are so very lovely. That's a stunning amount of water Boiling Springs puts out--isn't it crazy how much water we have in some places in this world and how parched we are in others.

Love the photographs. They make me want to hop on a bus or a train and head off to Missouri!

LD Masterson said...

This looks like a vacation area I'd enjoy. Maybe next year.

Birgit said...

I am surprised how much water there is coming from this spring-football field-wowzers. This last picture looks so nice to swim in

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - what amazing information .. something I don't think about relative to our tiny springs! Loved reading the stats and seeing the photos etc .. looks just beautiful and how very fortunate to live nearby ... it sounds just great .. cheers Hilary