Big Spring at high flow comes from three outlets, two of which are shown here.

Name: Big Spring

Location: Carter County, Mo.

Rank: 1

Average Flow: 286 million gallons per day (443 cubic feet per second)

Recharge Area: Dye traced from west and north of the spring. Longest trace just under 40 miles from near Mountain View, Missouri.

Interesting Information: Spring flows from three outlets along the base of an Eminence dolomite bluff. Big Spring is the lowest of Missouri's large springs in elevation at 433 feet above mean sea level. During high flow, Big Spring is submerged by the Current River, which threatened to permanently inundate the spring in the 1930's. This fate was averted by dikes built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. A true high flow on Big Spring has never been obtained because of the Current River, but the gage pegged many times at 1.3 billion gpd or 2000 cfs.

Brief History: The first white man to report the spring was Pocahontas Randolph, who followed Indian reports of "a spring that roars" in 1803. Because of the rugged terrain, the site remained obscure until purchased by Henry Sawyer in 1913. Roads were not built until the spring became one of the first Missouri state parks in 1925. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways were christened June 10, 1972, by Tricia Nixon Cox throwing a bouquet of flowers into the waters of Big Spring.

Ownership and Access: Owned by the National Park Service since 1971. Developed campground on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways featuring dining lodge, cabins and CCC history displays on season. No charge for entry to view the spring.

Big Spring from one of the small caves along the walkway.

This page last updated on May 17, 2006.
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