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Welcome to Arkanssouri
By Carolyn R. Tomlin
Like many natural wonders, a legend exists as to how the spring formed. Local folklore claims the son of an Indian Chief died while searching for water during a drought. While digging his son's grave, a mighty spring burst forth. As his son perished in search of water, the chief thought the spring would continue for eternity. What geologists will tell you is that the water comes from the rainfall over the high plains of southern Missouri. Seeping into cavities below the surface, dye tests have proven the water converges into a main channel of an underground river and emerges as Mammoth Spring. As the spring is 70–feet below the water level of the spring pool, the actual spring is not visible at the park.
Just a few feet from the state line inside the park is The Tourist Information Center. The site houses exhibits, a gift shop, restrooms and travel counselors ready to assist RVers with
information and vacation literature.
Historic Frisco Depot
Open to the public in 1999, the restored Frisco Depot takes visitors back to a gentler time in history. The 1886 Frisco Railroad Depot contains a collection of railroad memorabilia depicting the Victorian era. Thirteen life–sized custom–sculptured human figures portray the train workmen, depot crew and waiting passengers from the early 1900s period of the vintage train station. Dressed in original railroad uniforms and historically accurate clothing, the figures are posed in scenes from the booming era of when railroads ruled the land.
Overlooking the huge natural spring that gave the town its name, the red brick depot is one of only a few in the nation that historically portrays its original purpose. Today's guests can catch a glimpse of modern railroading as the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe freight trains still pass through Mammoth Springs about every 30 minutes. Listen—and you'll hear the lonely whistle as the engineer rounds a bend and transports his cargo to the next station.
Don't miss the Hydroelectric Power Exhibit housed in its original stone building overlooking the power dam and lake. Located at the park, the 1920s water–powered generator produced 2400 volts at 150 RPMs and cost $11,000 in 1927. History buffs will not want to miss the signs on the self–guided tour explaining all parts of the power station. A walking trail leads around the lake, and is home to dozens of geese and ducks.
One of Arkansas' most popular trout rivers is the Spring River, formed by the natural springs. Fishermen come from across the country to fish for rainbow trout in the upper stretches and walleye and bass in its lower reaches.
The Jim/Hinkle Spring River Fish Hatchery, located two miles downriver from Mammoth Spring State Park stocks more than 1 million trout each year at nine sites along the Spring River. More than 90 percent of the fish stocked are 11–inch rainbow trout.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the hatchery when in the area. Start your tour at the administration building where hatchery information and brochures are available. Next to this site the production room contains trout eggs, fry and fingerling trout that are nurtured until they reach 3 inches long. Nearby is the raceway—a channel 60 or 80 feet long containing up to 25,000 trout. If you're present at the right time, you'll see a "crowder" guide the fish to the end of a raceway to be pumped into the hatchery truck for distribution. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission public access areas are stocked weekly through the year. Fee sites are stocked weekly from March to October.
Canoe Spring River
In addition to fishing, the Spring River is rated one of the state's best float stream. As a Class I–II stream, numerous rapids and falls challenge canoeists. With the constant flow of water from the spring, this makes for a good year–round float trip.
Several camping sites provide full hookups. Other services include: river access; tube, canoe and raft rental; tent camping; tackle, live bait and food. Many campsites are located close enough to water that campers can walk a few yards and cast for a dinner of fresh–caught trout.
Bird watching, photography, whitewater, hiking, or simply enjoying the pleasures of a good book can fill your
Approximately 13 miles south of the Missouri state line on Highway 63 is the small town of Hardy, Arkansas. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the town houses old–fashion antique and craft shops, musical instruments and unique restaurants. Over 75 specialty shops cover the historic district.
A "must–see" in Hardy is the Good Old Days Vintage Motorcar Museum. Over 45 vintage vehicles are on display daily. These cars come from private collections but many are for sale. Look for the 1936 Auburn Boatail Speedster, the 1928 Packard Series 5264 4–door Sedan, a Model A Ford Tool Display and a 1917 Flyer—"America's First Sport Automobile" as a few featured vehicles. Nearby is a replica of an early service station found in many small communities in the mid–1900s.
Before leaving Hardy, stop by the Corner Booth on Main Street. Painted a bright blue, you can't miss the local restaurant that once serviced automobiles in the area. Treat yourself to a Belgian waffle topped with fresh strawberries and real whipped cream. Wherever you go in Hardy, one constant is the Spring River and the railroads running parallel to Hardy's Main Street.
Like many small towns and villages across America, there is something that ties life together. Communities near the Arkansas–Missouri state line are no different. Here in the Ozark hills, the gentle whisper of the Spring River and the whistle of the trains are like the threads of a tapestry that bind people together. Those sounds beckon visitors to return again and again.
A fishing license is required of anyone 16 years or older and may be purchased from local businesses and sporting good stores. Call 800/364–4263 or go online to
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook, containing current fishing regulations, is available at the Him Hinkle/Spring River State Fish Hatchery or the Mammoth Spring State Park. The hatchery is open to the public 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday–Friday. The toll–free number is 877/625–7521. Camping is not permitted on Arkansas Game and Fish Commission public access sites.
Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery
Mammoth Spring State Park
Good Old Days Vintage Motorcar Museum
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