Jan 232018

Since mid-December, the Springfield News Leader has followed the discovery and monitoring of a recently opened up “swallow hole” on the James River, near the Greenway Trail in southwest Springfield.

A dramatic sucking sound accompanies the whirling vortex as hundreds of gallons of the stream’s water disappears down the dark hole. It’s a graphic auditory and visual illustration of the porous nature of the karst typography we live on.

Loring Bullard, author of Jordan Creek: Story of an Urban Stream and past president of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, was one of those who found the swallow hole. He described the whirlpool as “a crack in the creek bed . . . sucking hundreds of gallons of water into a subterranean channel that likely exited more than a mile downstream at Rader Spring.”

Our research for James Fork of the White led us to Rader Spring as well. An unspectacular outpouring in a field near Wilson Creek, the spring did not historically attract the leisure class for picnics and dalliances. Still, it is instructive of our landscape. Of Rader Spring, we wrote:

The spring only a hydrologist could love pumps around six or eight million gallons a day into the now-cleaned-up Wilson Creek – a third as much as Missouri’s twentieth biggest spring. Still, it’s a lot of water, but size is not what endears it to geologists. The Association of Missouri Geologists took a field trip here and Kenneth C. Thompson wrote, “Perhaps the most unusual characteristic of Rader Spring and its supply system are the reversible sinkholes or estavellas that occur in the Wilson Creek valley. These curious karst features accept water in drier seasons and discharge water as springs during rainy seasons.” (p. 53)

The mysterious movement of water under the surface of our earth has been studied and pondered by generations of geologists, hydrologists, landowners as well as recreationalists who observe the outcomes of that movement. Dry creeks and sinking streams, which have intermittent water supplies, also prove that, although we may not see it, water courses through a complex subsurface system that does not necessarily copy the channels we see from a low water bridge. Pouring dye into one water source and waiting to see where it resurfaces is the most common method of tracking that movement.

Rader Spring is a textbook example of how leaky the Springfield Plateau is. Fluorescent dye introduced into creeks and sinks from as far away as I-44 have been detected in Rader’s waters. From a dry branch of Nichols Creek six miles away dye was injected that reached the spring in six days. Rader is only 1.3 miles from Springfield’s Southwest Waste Water Treatment Plant. (p. 53)

Fluorescent dyes have been introduced into some dry streambeds and sinkholes along Flat Creek a few miles from Cassville and emerged in the great spring at Roaring River. That twenty-six-million gallon-a-day frigid water source for a state trout park is not in the James River basin. Subsurface water movement does not always follow present-day surface stream configurations. (p. 94)

James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River is available on this website, on amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.

Jan 212018

If you turn west from Highway 13 on Joe Bald Road, you’ll pass the entrance to Joseph Philibert Cemetery. Named for the first white settler in Stone County, this hilltop cemetery is where the graves of twenty small graveyards in the Table Rock Lake basin were relocated.

Among the markers are those for William Carol “Tipton” Gore and his second wife, Nancy “Granny” Gore, “Cherokee Doctor.” Nancy Gore was born in Tennessee about 1820, married William Gore and they moved to Arkansas, then to Stone County about 1848. They settled near the confluence of the James and White rivers. Their neighbors were the Joseph Philibert (1812-1884) and William Gillis families who had a trading post where they bought furs from the Indians. The Philibert family graveyard was near the site of the trading post. Twenty-two graves were in the old cemetery when Table Rock Lake began to fill. Among those were the Gores.

Headstones were modest, and many burials were only marked with rocks to indicate a grave. A new marker was made for Granny Gore, a Cherokee medicine woman and wife of pioneer William Tipton Gore. Small family cemeteries in the basin of Table Rock Reservoir were moved to higher ground before the lake filled. Headstones and remains of twenty graveyards, such as they were, were dug up and relocated in the new Joseph Philibert Cemetery just north of Kimberling City.
                                                                  James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River

Granny Gore’s Ozark Folk Medicine by Sherman Lee Pompey:

And finally in the words of Granny herself, “You see, the good Lord made herbs an’ roots for the purpose of medicines. A lot of medicines that we used in the early hills was nothing more than the same thing or the artificial substitute of these things used today by modern medical science.”

Dec 052017

For an author, it’s deeply gratifying when a reader really understands what you’re doing and why. Steve Wiegenstein’s review of JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozarks River is that kind of review. Steve understands the subject and our own non-linear style of treating our topics.  Most importantly, he understand the Ozarks, the land, the streams, the people. Steve is the author of a series of historical novels set in a mid-nineteenth century Utopian community named Daybreak in a valley of the St. Francis River in Madison County.  The third in this series, just-published The Language of Trees, has earned high praise.

James Fork of the White is available on our website, www.beautifulozarks.com, at Barnes & Noble and on amazon.com

Dec 032017

Last week Steve Pokin, the Springfield News Leader‘s columnist of the unique and sometimes quirky aspects of Springfield, interviewed Leland about our new book, JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozark River.

In his columns, “Pokin Around” and “Answer Man,” Steve answers readers’ curious queries, investigates puzzles and reveals many of Springfield’s little known facts and interesting personalities. One of In his columns on the (eutrophic) small lakes of Southern Hills subdivision provided needed background information for us as we discussed Galloway Creek and other small tributaries flowing into the James.

We’re gratified that he concluded, “Interested in the James River? This is the book for you.

Available from our website, www.beautifulozarks.com (postage paid), Barnes & Noble and at amazon.com.

Nov 202017

We were pleased to see Harry Styron’s write up of our new book, James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River, on his blog, Ozarks Law and Economy.  We spent five years exploring our own James River, once the preeminent float stream of the Ozarks. Harry understood the depth of the research we put into this book:

Combining these graphics with a penetrating verbal narrative, the Paytons have given us what we all want and need to know about the White River’s largest Missouri tributary.

Thank you, Harry Styron!


Available now at Barnes & Noble in Springfield, on amazon.com, and from our website, postage paid.

Jun 272017

Real photo postcard by Hall. Probably taken in Stone County, Missouri, but Arkansas sounded more primitive. The hog’s board collar is to keep it out of fenced gardens. Cattle and hogs were released in the woods to feed themselves. The destructive rooting of feral pigs was, and still is, an environmental problem.

Though the hillbilly icon didn’t emerge for several decades, the Ozarks has been depicted as a primitive place inhabited by people living a pioneer lifestyle since the early 1800s. This mythos was rejected by progressive Springfieldians, but in Galena, and the White River Hills, it was a component of tourism.

Arkansas was held to be slightly more regressive than southern Missouri but only slightly so.

(Page 72 in the forthcoming book, James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River.)

Jun 102017

In 2012 we published a 304-page book about the transformation of a big, muddy river that rises in the tall grass Kansas prairie then cuts into the northern flank of the Ozark uplift before emptying into the even muddier Missouri River. Damming the Osage is a history of engineering interventions justified by questionable hydrologic theories. Human cupidity orchestrated many of these unharmonious projects.

This October, we will publish our second “river book”: James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River. In this we look at the watershed of the river that rises in Webster County near Marshfield, wends its way to Springfield, running along its eastern edge and then drains south to Table Rock. The James – unlike the Osage – feels the effects of a major metropolitan area on its watershed. The James was a storied Ozark float stream; the Osage, a prairie-born, rich but unspectacular stream, home to a prehistoric fish.

The James is definitely a different river and this is a different book. More pages (352), more illustrations (because we have more pages!) to examine, discuss and showcase that different river and the people who live and recreate along its course.

Look for it this fall!

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Apr 182017

We’re moving our Lens & Pen Press blog from Blogger to Word Press and will consolidate the two current blogs into one for our books–the Beautiful and Enduring Ozarks, the James Fork of the White (coming 2017), Damming the Osage, Mystery of the Irish Wilderness and See the Ozarks–and many other favorite topics of discussion. The archive of L&P posts is still available at http://lensandpen.blogspot.com/ The posts on our separate Damming the Osage website remain available at http://www.dammingtheosage.com/the-blog/

To bridge this move from one platform to another, below is the most recent (Blogger) post about Table Rock and the pre-dam White River landscape:


Shortly after Empire District Electric built Powersite Dam across the White River, creating Lake Taneycomo, the big electric company announced plans to build a 200-foot dam upriver at Table Rock Bluff.

Table Rock Dam will be built across the big sandbar,” reads the handwritten caption.
Real photo postcard, 1920s, by Payne Johnson, Branson, Mo.

Most bluffs along Ozark rivers are named. Table Rock Bluff had a relatively flat top and was accessible by road. A visit to this overlook was on many vacationers’ itinerary.  For decades locals anticipated seeing machinery in the valley below building a huge dam.  That this never occurred frustrated dam supporters and led them to question if the utility really intended to proceed. They didn’t.

The Army Corps would build Table Rock Dam many years later but the Corps didn’t build it at Table Rock. They moved the location two miles upstream to a more stable geological site, but kept the name.  Table Rock Bluff remains a popular scenic overlook, but is now fenced for safety – unlike the past as shown here.

COMING IN 2017: JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozark River.

Sample pages from this new book can be seen at www.beautifulozarks.com

Our earlier ‘river book,’ DAMMING THE OSAGE, can be seen at www.dammingtheosage.com