Thursday, October 16
Start: Albion, IL
Finish: Upper Peoples Creek campground (AC), Wappapello, MO
Left Albion by noon heading west on I-64, then south on I- 57. At Rend Lake we took IL 154 towards Chester, on the Mississippi River. The rain system has moved on and dry weather is predicted for the next week, mid-day the skies cleared. We stopped at Fort Kaskaskia State Park for a Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail passport stamp. This was a small park, but had a campground, historic house and the earthen works of the fort. The fort remains are from 1759, built by the French to defend the town of Kaskaskia, settled in 1703. In the early 1800s it was the state capital for two years.
We crossed the Mississippi River at Chester, then south to Trail of Tears State Park, north of Cape Girardeau. As expected they have a Trail of Tears NHT passport stamp. Their visitor center is very nice, lots of displays covering a variety of natural and cultural topics. During this trip we have been confounded by the variety of hardwood trees, so many different leave shapes. Their Fall Leaves displays was excellent.
Fall Leaves display
We ended the day with a drive through backcountry roads; MO C, to P, then Z, ending in Wappapello, MO. Missouri uses letters for their county highways, makes for some interesting combinations. They even use two letter combinations. Beautiful Fall evening, clear sky, stars and Canada Geese honking as they fly over the lake.
Friday, October 17
Start: Wappapello, MO
Finish: East Lake campground (AC) at Stockton Lake, near Greenfield, MO
Wonderful night and morning at camp. First stop was nearby at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Puxico, MO. Their new visitor center is beautiful with great displays. I took their bird ID quiz on a computer kiosk and scored 27 correct out of 29! When it showed the bird, it also played their vocalization.
Mingo NWR visitor center
In Poplar Bluff we stopped at the Mark Twain National Forest office for another Trail of Tears NHT stamp. For most of the day we followed US 60 west through Missouri, taking us through the Ozarks, north of where we traveled through Arkansas at the beginning of this trip.
Further along US 60 we reached Van Buren and the visitor center for Ozark National Scenic Riverways. They are celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a park site. Besides several large springs the area includes the Current River and the Jacks Fork River. Nearby is Big Spring, pumping out 288 million gallons of water a day.
Big Springs, Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
Heading up into the park site we drove to Alley Spring, besides a Spring their is also a mill, schoolhouse and store. This Spring doesn't gush out, but forms a pool and a portion is funneled towards the mill, producing a mere 81 gallons of water per day. During the summer and weekends the mill is open, most days the store is open and acts as a visitor center for the area. It was a perfect Fall day as we walked around the grounds.
Alley Spring & Mill
We worked our way back to US 60 and near Springfield we stopped briefly at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, the site of a Civil War battle in 1861. The exhibits in the visitor center are being redone, in their place were some large banners with a number of quotes from the time period from a variety of individuals and groups represented. There is also a 30 minute film and a five mile auto tour of the battlefield.
The closest public camping was NW of Springfield at Stockton Lake, another nice Army Corp of Engineers (AC) site. This was their shoulder season so a site with electric was $9, or $4.50 for us. The evening was perfect for fixing dinner and enjoying a lakeside view.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail - Kaskaskia, IL
Trail of Tears NHT
Trail of Tears State Park, MO
Mark Twain NF - Poplar Bluff, MO
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Van Buren, MO
Big Spring, MO
50th Anniversary 1964-2014
Alley Spring, MO
Round Spring, MO
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield - Republic, MO
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Ozark NSR - Passport 25th Anniversary
Turtles on a log
Great Blue Heron