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History
of the Ozarks
No other place in the world is like the Ozarks. History
runs deep here, in the rocks, trees and animals. From
their earliest arrival, people have shaped this land-
scape and exploited its assets, some to exhaustion. The
MarkTwain National Forest, which contains most of the
Ozark Trail, was created to manage and conserve the
area’s abundant resources.The land around the trail has
a unique story to tell if you dig a little below the surface.
HAT’S IN A NAME?
Why not “Ozark” for southeastern Missouri’s National Forest?
The Ozark National Forest had already been
established in northern Arkansas, in 1908.
A:
In 1934, the
U.S. Depart-
ment of Agri-
culture started
purchasing
tracts in the
Ozarks to re-
store and repair
damage from
overgrazing and logging and to replenish depleted
wildlife. Plans called for creation of two national
forests, but naming them proved a challenge. The
Clark National Forest was designated in 1937,
but it took two more years to debate the name for
the second unit. It was officially named in 1939,
to honor Missouri’s most famous author. In 1976
the Clark and the Mark Twain were combined to
become the Mark Twain National Forest.
Eugene Field
Audubon
Kikapoo
Daniel Boone
SOME NAMES SUGGESTED
FOR THE MTNF
Distinctive karst
topography de-
fines the Ozarks.
Exposed surface
rock features nu-
merous sinkholes
and the porous
limestone and
dolomite bedrock
contains thou-
sands of caves.
Losing streams,
which drain into
the earth, form
channels hun-
dreds of feet un-
derground for tiny
blind fish and other strange species. This geology is the
reason that many of the largest springs in the world includ-
ing Big Spring and Greer, are found here.
The Ozarks hosts the largest concentration of lead sulfide
on the planet. “The Lead Belt” extends across Missouri’s
southeast: over 250 million tons of lead ore have been
extracted, producing 70% of the U.S. supply. The volcanic
Saint Francois Mountains rose during the Precambrian era
and were never submerged in ancient inland seas. Their
reefs may account for the area’s rich mineral deposits.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
Q:
Is water from springs and wells
safe to drink in the Ozarks?
Since surface water quickly drains into the water table
bringing fertilizer, other chemicals and septic tank
waste, well and spring water must be treated before use.
A:
USING THE FOREST LAND
• 10,000+ acres harvested each year in
the MTNF
• 45-50 million board feet per year sold
to mills and wood producers
• MTNF wood makes railroad ties,
timbers, lumber for furniture, fence
posts, sawdust for biofuels and charcoal
• Hardwoods are replanted by coppicing
(trimming young trees near ground level to encourage new shoots)
and pine is replanted with seedlings cultivated from pine cones
Pulaski
Pershing
Linnaeus
Mozark
Q:
How much of the Forest is used for
timber management and production?
About 1 million acres are man-
aged, but only a fraction in tim-
ber production. Among the areas
not managed: wilderness and
riparian areas, slopes over 35%
and historically significant sites.
A:
CCC worker collecting shortleaf
pine cones for growing seedlings in the
Clark National Forest, 1939.
The Ozark Trail Association
ozark
trail.
com
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