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Springs, Caves, & Historic Sites

Alley Spring

With its beautiful turquoise water, Alley Spring has a 100 year old grist mill which you can tour. The mill is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Stop in for an up close look at one of the Ozarks’ most famous landmarks. There is no charge, but donations help offset operating costs. Located six miles west of Eminence, Missouri, on State Highway 106. Books and postcards may be purchased at the mill. The mill machinery is no longer operational, although restoration efforts are underway.

Alley was home, farm, and school for people who lived here a century ago.

Dances, baseball games, and roller-skating were all part of Alley’s busier days. The first mill was built in 1868. A post office was established, named after a prominent local farming family, Alley. From that day to this, the area has been known as Alley Spring, Alley Mill, or just plain Alley. The present building was constructed during 1893-1894 by George Washington McCaskill as a merchant mill. With a turbine rather than a water wheel, and with rollers rather than stone grist stones, it was considered to be very “high tech” for its day. It served the needs of the local community by processing the farmers’ grain. Originally unpainted, it was first painted white with green trim, then later the famous red color associated with Alley Mill today.

Story’s Creek School

Story’s Creek one-room schoolhouse is located within walking distance of Alley Mill, six miles west of Eminence, Missouri on State Route 106. Schoolhouse is open on summer weekends. Grounds always open, but access into the school is limited. Alley’s school in 1903 had an enrollment of 42 students. Church services were also held at the schoolhouse. Open From the last week in May through the first week in September, Friday and Saturday, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Located adjacent to Alley Mill.

Round Spring

Round Spring is located approximately 13 miles north of Eminence on Highway 19. The spring flows into an almost perfectly circular cavern that has collapsed, and from there it travels through a natural tunnel before it emerges into the spring branch. It is believed that a portion of the spring’s recharge area is to the northeast of Spring Valley, which means that the water would have to flow under the Current River to reach the spring. Round Spring was also one of the first parks in the Missouri state park system (1932). The Round Spring State Park was incorporated into the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 1972.

Round Spring Cave

Round Spring Cave is heavily decorated with formations and the National Park Service conducts daily tours by lantern, that take about two hours. Tours operate Memorial Day – Labor Day.

Big Spring

This is the largest spring in Missouri and the largest freshwater spring in the United States. On an average day, around 278 million gallons of water gush forth from subterranean passages, swelling the nearby Current River. Experiments in which harmless dye is placed into the ground have shown that water travels from as far as 45 miles away through underground passages before surfacing at Big Spring.

Blue Spring

This is one of Missouri’s deepest springs and is located approximately 12 miles east of Eminence on Highway 106. The spring flows slowly from a very deep cave shaft that is situated at the base of a dolomite bluff.

Rocky Falls

Nine miles southeast of Eminence on Highway NN is one of the finest examples of this geology in the state, Rocky Falls Shut-in. Rocky Falls is an impressive, steep cascading waterfall that pours into a large pool of water. There are parking and picnic areas available right by the water. This is a great place to have a picnic and explore the waterfall area and do some day hiking. One section of the Ozark trail hikes right past the falls.

Welch Spring

Welch Spring is located approximately 2 miles north of Akers on Highway K and is the fifth largest spring in Missouri. The spring flows from the base of a wooded dolomite hill near the historic Welch Hospital, and then flows to the river over a rock impoundment. Thomas Welch homesteaded Welch Spring, in 1855, and a gristmill was run on the spring-branch until nearly 50 years after the Civil War.

An Illinois doctor named C.H. Diehl purchased the spring and the area surrounding the spring in 1913 for eight hundred dollars. Dr Diehl believed that the spring water had healing properties and that cool, pollen free air coming from the adjacent cave would be beneficial for people with asthma, emphysema, and tuberculosis, which was called “consumption.” After Dr. Diehl’s death the property, including the hospital and spring, were sold to a group of people who managed it as a trout fishing resort; until it was purchased by the National Park Service in 1967.

Akers Ferry

Akers Ferry, located 30 miles outside of Eminence is the last ferry operating in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The ferry has been providing transportation across the Current River to vehicles for around 50 years and is a unique part of Ozark history. This ferry is a throwback to the days when not all rivers were crossed by bridges. The ferry costs $4 and operates during daylight hours.

Pulltite Spring & Cabin

Pulltite Spring is located close to Pulltite campground, about 14 miles north of Eminence off of highway EE. The Spring branch carries a daily flow of 38 million gallons from Pulltite Spring into the Current River. The spring flows from the rock structures at the bottom of a cliff forming a small pool. Pulltite Spring gained its name from the “tight pull” of the horse drawn teams down a steep hill next to the mills that were positioned on the spring-branch. The spring was purchased by St Louis businessmen in 1911 and was run as a fishing resort, until the area was acquired by the National Park Service in 1967.

The Pulltite Cabin is across the river from the campground, next to Pulltite Spring and the only way to see the cabin is by use of a boat or by wading across the river. It was built as a vacation lodge by the six man “Pulltight Corporation,” which was created to develop the cabin into a retreat facility. The cabin was completed on the day before Thanksgiving in 1913 and is open for your exploration. The National Park Service hopes to restore it to its former beauty.

Scenic Highway 19

Scenic Highway 19, the first so designated by the Missouri Legislature, goes right through the heart of the Ozark Heritage Region, an area characterized by clear, spring fed streams. Missouri 19 starts near the Arkansas border around Thayer, runs right through the town of Eminence and ends near Hannibal. To the citizens of Eminence, Scenic Hwy 19 is known as Main Street!

Cave Spring & Devils Well

Cave Spring, located on the Current River, has a long history of usage as a fishing, picnicking and canoe rest spot, but has never been commercially developed. The spring rises a short canoe paddle into a large cave opening on the Current River, from a vertical shaft 140 feet deep. The spring itself is a favorite fishing spot. During underwater survey, a Native American dugout canoe was discovered on the bottom of the spring.

One of the recharge areas for Cave Spring has been traced to Devil’s Well. Located off Route KK near Akers, this is a sinkhole opening into an underground lake larger than a football field! A steep, gravel road leads to Devil’s Well, where visitors may look through the karst window to the water from a viewing platform. In the late 1960’s, Devils Well was mapped by Ozark Spring Studies, an effort which required 62 weekends of trips by divers, cavers and mappers. Devils Well was purchased by the National Park Service in 1974.

Jam Up Cave

The incredible “doorway” to Jam Up Cave stands eight stories tall and is more than 1,000 feet across. Due to the indirect light reaching deep into this North-facing opening and the large lake within the cave, conditions are perfect for preservation of plant species that have not been seen elsewhere in the Ozarks since the last Ice Age. Access to the cave is only by canoe from the Jacks Fork River. Follow the path about half way up the bluff and you will find the entrance to this long cave.

Two Rivers

Two Rivers is the point in which the Jack’s Fork River runs into the Current River. This is located 8 miles east of Eminence. Take Hwy 106 five miles to Hwy V, turn left and go three miles to the end of the blacktop. A short way downstream is an old ferry crossing.

All information on this page was obtained from the Eminence Chamber of Commerce website.


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