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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memories Now and Then

It is a beautiful day.  It is a day that I would love to be able to spend with family and friends.  For a moment I felt a bit weepy and sad.  We have always loved to go and do things outdoors.  One place that is especially dear to my heart is the Mamouth Springs, Ar. area.  Even when I was a child we used to drive for hours to be able to go to that area and see the sights and camp.

If you like to trout fish you would love it.  The water is so crystal clear and cold.  It is very cold.  At the part you can see the spring and so many other things in the area.

Mammoth Spring is Arkansas's largest spring and the second largest spring in the Ozark Mountains. As a National Natural Landmark it is well worth stopping to see or even plan to spend the day.  I can remember as a child hearing from my father all about it and the history of the place.  There is so much history connected to it and the area.  The spring flows nine million gallons of water hourly.   It forms a beautiful 10-acre lake and then flows south as the Spring River, a popular Ozark trout and float stream. 

Located near the spring, the park's 1886 Frisco depot will take you back in time to an early 1900s train station. Outside the train station is a Frisco caboose to explore.  I can still remember when there were cabooses on trains.  Often you would see someone standing by the rail on the back or looking out the window.  I remember what fun it was to be able to climb inside this caboose and see how they actually used and lived there.  You could almost feel as if you were ready to ride the rails to places far away.

I remember my father explaining how when it rained the water would seep down into the earth and it was like underground rivers and lakes.  When it came up to the surface it was a spring.  You can not see the opening of the spring at Mamouth because it is 70 foot below the surface of a 10 acre pool that flowed to the dam and over the top.  The dam was made of stone.  You can hear the roar of the water and feel the power of the flow as 344 cubic feet per second rush on to form the river beyond.
Nine miles northwest of Mammoth Spring you can see a part of the underground river that feeds the spring at a collapsed cave at a Missouri State Park called Grand Gulf State Park. What remains as a portion of the cave are now a 130 ft deep chasm with a natural bridge over it. Dye tests have proven that the water flowing through the chasm at Grand Gulf exits through the existing cave and emerges at Mammoth Spring.

The spring was used to power a grist-mill from the times of the earliest settlers and the Mammoth Spring Milling Company constructed a dam and a water-powered grist-mill just below the site. In 1925 the dam was purchased by the Arkansas-Missouri Power Company which constructed a hydroelectric plant at the dam. This plant supplied power to the surrounding area until 1972. 
When ever we got a chance to visit there, it was so beautiful and filled with such history and things of interest.  The original Frisco Depot was restored in 1971 and has artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad and the spring area as well as a gift shop I love to look through.  The State Park provides a visitor's center, picnic areas, walking trails, and tour access to the dam and hydro plant. 
The last time I got to visit there my grandson was so young.  His little eyes sparkled and he was so excited by all that he saw.  The water and site of the dam amazed him and he loved climbing and exploring the caboose. 

One thing he really loved was a memory I will always cherish……
I became tired and was unable to go on or walk farther.  I chose a picnic table under a shade tree and waited as they went on too explore more and rest for a while.  I noticed so many others coming out of the visitor’s center with little bags of bird feed.  They would toss out some of the seeds but the birds would not come up until they stepped back.  With a little distance the birds flocked to the feed and the children loved seeing so many.  As soon as they tried to approach the birds they would fly up into the trees near by and wait.  One group after another did the same thing and had such fun feeding the little birds.

I could actually remember feeding the birds as a child.  When my husband and daughter returned with my grandson and his father the look of excitement and awe filled his little face.
I want to take the time to share something with you.  My husband, Albert has always had a way with animals of all kinds.  I have always loved animals too but marvel at some of the responses from them I have seen with him.  I will try to find the picture I took of what I will tell you next.
A family was at the tables near where I sat and as they stood back and watched more birds than I could count were landing to eat the feed spread before them.  The branches of the trees near them were filled with birds.  It was beautiful.  I explained to them where you could get the bird feed and they were off to get a bag of their own. 

My grandson asked if we thought the birds would come and eat the food from him too, and my husband told him he was sure they would.  “We will see if we can get them to come right to us and eat it.”
Albert explained to the little boy how he had to stay calm so he would not frighten the birds.  He showed him how to spread the feed and patiently stand so still.  The picture tells the rest of the story.  It was a day to remember.

I do have memories from that area.  The trout fishing is fantastic there.  If you go down to the river the water is so cold.  It varies very little from winter, spring, summer to fall.  I have always wanted to go on one of the float trips but never quite made it.  I have notices some people who seemed to be having so much fun and later were so very sunburned.  You can have such a good time you loose track of how long you are out there.  The canoes are a favorite of many.
I remember one time we were there fishing and there was a place that rented canoes not far around the curve in the river from where I sat.  The cold water is something you have to feel to really appreciate.  There was a woman’s voice that was shrill and loud and talking non stop.  The man sounded calm and had little to say.  She was not listening to him as he explained about the canoes.

There were a few moments of silence when I assume they were beginning their trip before the sound of a splash and high pitched hysterical screams…. The man’s voice spoke calmly in a deep tone in the gap between screams.  “I told you not to rock the boat.”

Maybe I should not have laughed knowing the screams were from the shock of the cold water, but it struck me funny.  It was like a living example of some of the jokes about women.  She may not have been listening as he tried to tell her to begin with but she sure understood after the splash.

My grandson stayed overnight with us last night and it was late before he could fall asleep.  He was excited about going trout fishing and getting to see the spring and hopefully feed the birds.  Early this morning his Momma, our daughter arrived and the three of them gave me hugs and were off on an adventure.  Part of me is sad because with the health problems it would be foolish for me to try to endure this heat of an extended day of fun.  I have always loved nature with all the sights and sounds.  To feel the breeze gently on your face or the sunshine warm and bright lighting the world around is so beautiful.  I told my little grandson to be sure and look at how the sun sparkles on the water, see the clouds in the sky or the trees all around and to really do more than look….see that and more.  He does not really understand but with time he will.  For a little guy he understands a lot already.

The other part of me is so happy I am still here to know and share even through the tales they will bring home and pictures of special times and special memories.  I will be and am with them right now in heart.  They did not leave me behind.  I saw in their expressions just after the hugs and good byes a look of sadness but I reminded them to take lots of pictures and I could be there sharing it too.  They wanted for me to be able to come and laugh and have a good time so I am there with them in heart too.  It really is a beautiful day.

 People from around us watched as the birds flocked all around us.  When they saw them eating right from his hand, it was a special feeling with nature and the beauty of the moment.

If you get a chance to stop there, I am sure you would enjoy it.  Here is more information 

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