Ice water in
by Jim McCarty
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.
Youve 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.