|St. Francis River|
The St. Francis River at Lake City, Arkansas is placid and silt-laden.
Map of the St. Francis River watershed. The Castor/Whitewater headwaters (darker shade on the map) were historically part of the St. Francis watershed but are now diverted to the Mississippi.
|Region||Ozark Plateau, Mississippi Alluvial Plain|
|District||St. Francois Mountains, Crowleys Ridge|
|Cities||Farmington, Missouri, Fisk, Missouri, Lake City, Arkansas, Marked Tree, Arkansas|
|Source||Elephant Rocks State Park|
|⁃ location||Iron County, St. Francois Mountains, Ozark Plateau, Missouri|
|⁃ elevation||1,568 ft (478 m)|
|Near Helena-West Helena, Phillips County, Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Arkansas|
|171 ft (52 m)|
|Length||426 mi (686 km)|
|Basin size||7,550 sq mi (19,600 km2)|
|⁃ left||Little St. Francis River, 12-Mile Creek, Blue Spring, Mingo Ditch, Little River|
|⁃ right||Stouts Creek, Marble Creek, Big Creek, Otter Creek, L'Anguille River|
The St. Francis River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, about 426 miles (686 km) long, in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas in the United States. The river drains a mostly rural area and forms part of the Missouri-Arkansas state line along the western side of the Missouri Bootheel.
The river rises in a region of granite mountains in Iron County, Missouri, and flows generally southwardly through the Ozarks and the St. Francois Mountains near Missouri's highest point Taum Sauk. It forms the Missouri-Arkansas border in the Bootheel and eventually exits the state at Missouri's lowest point in the "toe" at 241 feet (73 m) above sea level. It passes through Lake Wappapello, which is formed by a dam constructed in 1941. Below the dam the river meanders through cane forests and willow wetlands or forested swamp, transitioning from a clear stream into a slow and silt-laden muddy river as it enters the flat lands of the Mississippi embayment. In its lower course the river parallels Crowleys Ridge and is part of a navigation and flood-control project that encompasses a network of diversion channels and ditches along it and the Castor and Little rivers. Below the mouth of the Little River in Poinsett County, Arkansas, the St. Francis is navigable by barge. It joins the Mississippi River in Phillips County, Arkansas, about 7 miles (11 km) north of Helena.
Along its course in Missouri, the river flows through the Mark Twain National Forest and past Sam A. Baker State Park and the towns of Farmington, Greenville and Fisk. In Arkansas it passes the towns of St. Francis, Lake City, Marked Tree and Parkin, and continues through two additional namesakes of the river — St. Francis County, and St. Francis Township in northeastern Phillips County — ending its course adjoining the St. Francis National Forest.
In addition to the Little River, tributaries of the St. Francis include the Little St. Francis River, which joins it along its upper course in Missouri; the Tyronza River, which joins it in Arkansas; and the L'Anguille River, which joins it just above its mouth.
General overview and logistics:
The most popular section of the St. Francis River for whitewater boating is divided into two sections, the Upper and the Lower. The Upper section's put-in is near Fredericktown, Missouri, off HW 72 just after it crosses the river. The put is also located just upstream of where Stouts Creek joins in with the St. Francis River. The take out for the upper St. Francis is at Millstream Gardens Conservation Area or slightly downstream of that at Tiemann Shut-ins, which also serves as the usual put-in for the lower St. Francis. The total five-mile stretch that encompasses both the upper and the Lower St. Francis River ends at Silver Mines Recreation Area (old highway D bridge).
Upper St. Francis:
The upper section of the river is much less technical than the lower and also has extensive flat water sections between rapids. The upper section is the longer of the two sections at 3.2 miles. At the put-in for the upper section, the water is very calm and is a great place for beginner paddlers to practice skills and rolling. Following the calm pool, the river constricts slightly as it makes a large right turn and a great eddy line is formed to practice in. The first rapid encountered on the upper is Entrance Rapid. Entrance is a long, wide rapid with a series of ledges, steeper on the right, which provide good play waves for more technical boaters at lower levels. At flood levels, Entrance Rapid can be hazardous due to the willows growing along the sides and can present a challenge greater than the whitewater! The second rapid on the upper is Kitten's Crossing and consists of a series of 3 drops with the third having a sizable surfing, wave/hole and a service eddy on the left. The final rapid for the upper is Land of Oz and has two back-to-back surfing waves on the left but the drop just below that collects wood and debris, so be cautious. (Land of Oz is named in honor of Oscar "Oz" Hawksley, an early exploratory paddler from Missouri and officer in the American Whitewater Affiliation.)After a several pools, the river makes a bend to the right before the take-out at Fisherman's Access in Millstream Gardens Conservation Area.
Lower St. Francis:
The lower section is the much more exciting half of the river and contains the largest rapids, but is also the shorter section of the river at 2.3 miles in length. "This is Missouri's premier whitewater run. Probably 80% of the whitewater paddling in Missouri occurs on this section of the St. Francis River with the other 20% taking place either on the Upper St. Francis, on the whitewater creeks close to the St. Francis, on the Mississippi River Chain of Rocks at St. Louis, or at park-and-play spots around the state."
The put-in at (Tiemann Shut-ins) in Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, marks the beginning of a granite gorge with the river dropping 60 feet per mile. The whitewater action picks up immediately and continues through four major drops known as Big Drop, Cat's Paw, Double Drop, and Rickety-Rack. Throughout the lower St. Francis there are numerous play-spots with surfing waves/holes found everywhere. Downstream of Rickety-Rack, a high bluff can be seen on the right where Mud Creek enters on river right. The entrance of Mud creek onto the Lower St. Francis is a good place to stretch you legs and take a small hike up the creek. The creek can be floated down at really high water, but an inner-tube would probably work best. After mud creek and a slow section, Turkey Creek enters on the left at Turkey Creek Picnic Area, part of the USFS Silver Mine Recreation Area. Following this the river bends to the right and is divided briefly by a forest of willow trees. This section contains some small happy white water and slightly higher levels can produce some small surfing waves. The left rout in the Willow jungle contains a small squeeze between two rocks. After the willows the river flows into a pool formed by the Silver Mines Dam, left over from long-ago mining activity. A breach blown in the left side of the dam provides a class II - II+ rapid at normal to moderate river levels. At higher levels when the river is near or over D bridge(6 ft), a dangerous hole forms, that just keeps getting bigger as the level rises. When the river is high enough for the entire dam to be covered (8 ft), the extremely hazardous pour-over is best if portaged around on river-right. When at lower levels, due to the large flat rocks bordering river left and the huge eddy one river right, the Dam is a very popular spot to stop and rest/eat/play. Downstream from the dam the only remaining rapids of note are Little Drop and Fat Man's Squeeze. At levels below 5 ft, Little Drop makes for an amazing surfing hole/wave. The river continues fairly slow until the take-out at the low-water bridge in the Silver Mines Recreation Area.
Upper St. Francis
|Usual Difficulty:||Length:||Avg. Gradient:||Max Gradient:||Range:||Level:|
|II (for normal flows)||3.2 Miles||13 fpm||29 fpm||3.00 - 10.00 ft||2.58 ft (too low)|
Lower St. Francis
|II -IV||2.3 Miles|
|(feet)||(cfs)||D-bridge||Lower St. Francis rating|
|3 - 4||150 - 500||0 - 15 in||II - III|
|4 - 5||500 - 1000||15 - 30 in||III|
|5 - 6||1000 - 1700||30 - 45 in (top of bridge)||III+|
|6 - 8||1700 - 3800||top of bridge - 2.5 ft over||IV– (p)|
|8 - 10||3800 - 6800||2.5 – 5 ft over bridge||IV (p)|
|10 - 12||6800 - 11000||5 - 7.5 ft over bridge||IV+ (p)|
|12 - 14||11000 - 16500||7.5 – 10 ft over bridge||V– (p)|
|14 - 18||16500 - 31000||10 – 15 ft over bridge||V (p)|
|18 - 22||31000 - 52000||15 – 20 ft over bridge||V+ (p)|
The origin of the river's name is unclear. It might refer to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order. None of the region's early explorers were Franciscans, however. One possibility is that Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit, named the river when he explored its mouth in 1673. Before his voyage down the Mississippi Marquette had spent some time at the mission of St. Francois Xavier, named for the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. The spelling of the river's name shifted from "François" to "Francis" in the early 20th century. A number of place names in the region stem from the river's name, including St. Francois County and the St. Francois Mountains.
The United States Board on Geographic Names settled on "St. Francis River" as the stream's name in 1899. According to the Geographic Names Information System, historical names for the river have included:
The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest river and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Whitewater is formed in a rapid, when a river's gradient changes enough to generate so much turbulence that air is trapped within the water. This forms an unstable current that froths, making the water appear opaque and white.
The Ozarks, also known as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau, is a physiographic region in the U.S. states of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the extreme southeastern corner of Kansas. The Ozarks cover a significant portion of northern Arkansas and most of the southern half of Missouri, extending from Interstate 40 in Arkansas to Interstate 70 in central Missouri.
The White River is a 722-mile (1,162 km) long river that flows through the U.S. states of Arkansas and Missouri. Originating in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas, it flows northwards into southern Missouri, and then turns back into Arkansas, flowing southeast to its mouth at the Mississippi River.
The Cossatot River is an 89-mile-long (143 km) river in Howard, Polk and Sevier counties in the U.S. state of Arkansas.
The St. Francois Mountains in southeast Missouri are a mountain range of Precambrian igneous mountains rising over the Ozark Plateau. This range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America. The name of the range is spelled out as Saint Francois Mountains in official GNIS sources, but it is sometimes misspelled in use as St. Francis Mountains to match the anglicized pronunciation of both the range and St. Francois County.
The Farmington River is a river, 46.7 miles (75.2 km) in length along its main stem, which is located in northwest Connecticut with major tributaries extending into southwest Massachusetts. Via its longest branch, the Farmington's length increases to 80.4 miles (129.4 km), making it the Connecticut River's longest tributary by a mere 2.3 miles (3.7 km) over the major river directly to its north, the Westfield River. The Farmington River's watershed covers 609 square miles (1,580 km2). The river historically played an important role in small-scale manufacturing in towns along its course, but it is now mainly used for recreation and drinking water. The Farmington River Watershed Association is a non-profit organization for conservation and preservation of this river.
The Chattooga River is the main tributary of the Tugaloo River. Its headwaters are located southwest of Cashiers, North Carolina, and it stretches 57 miles (92 km) to where it has its confluence with the Tallulah River within Lake Tugalo, held back by the Tugalo Dam. The Chattooga and the Tallulah combine to make the Tugaloo River starting at the outlet of Lake Tugalo. The Chattooga begins in southern Jackson County, North Carolina, then flows southwestward between northwestern Oconee County, South Carolina, and eastern Rabun County, Georgia. The "Chattooga" spelling was approved by the US Board on Geographic Names in 1897.
The Antoine River is a 50.4-mile-long (81.1 km) tributary of the Little Missouri River in southwestern Arkansas in the United States. Via the Little Missouri, Ouachita and Red rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. According to the GNIS, it has also been known as Antoine Creek. A short headwater tributary of the river is known as the Little Antoine River.
Mountain Fork, also known as the Mountain Fork of the Little River, is a 98-mile-long (158 km) tributary of the Little River in western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma in the United States. Via the Little and Red rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.
The Little River is a tributary of the St. Francis River, about 148 miles (238 km) long, in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas in the United States. Via the St. Francis, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.
The Kananaskis River is a mountain river in western Alberta, Canada. It is a tributary of the Bow River, crossing the length of Kananaskis Country.
The Loop is a section of the River Dart, Dartmoor, also known as the Dart Loop.
The Ocoee Whitewater Center, near Ducktown, Tennessee, United States, was the canoe slalom venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and is the only in-river course to be used for Olympic slalom competition. A 1,640 foot stretch of the Upper Ocoee River was narrowed by two-thirds to create the drops and eddies needed for a slalom course. Today, the course is watered only on summer weekends, 34 days a year, for use by guided rafts and private boaters. When the river has water, 24 commercial rafting companies take more than 750 raft passengers through the course each day.
The Kings River is a tributary of the White River. It rises in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas and flows northward for more than 90 miles into Table Rock Lake in Missouri. The Arkansas portion of the river is undammed and bordered by rural and forested land, the river is popular for paddling and sport fishing.
Historically, the name Whitewater River applied to a 120 km (75 mi) long stream that headed approximately two miles east of the community of Womack in St. Francois County flowing south through Perry, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau and Stoddard counties before entering the Little River near Bell City. However, in the early 20th century, the Little River Drainage District constructed the Headwater Diversion Channel, which bisected the Whitewater River, causing the northern section of the stream to be diverted into the diversion channel, and separating the southern portion from its original headwaters. In 2007, the Board on Geographic Names approved a proposal to rename the two portions Upper Whitewater Creek and Lower Whitewater Creek. With the Upper Whitewater Creek now flowing through the Headwater Diversion Channel to the Mississippi River just south of Cape Girardeau.
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