~ Mark Twain National Forest
Boze Mills Spring
and The Irish Wilderness ~

In May of 2012, I drove to southeastern Missouri to visit with my friend, Zhnee (Zhinay). The day after my arrival, we took a short road trip to a part of the MarkTwain National Forest.
Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri. MTNF was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The MTNF covers approximately 1.5 million acres, 78,000 acres of which are Wilderness, and National Scenic River area. MTNF spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri. MTNF is divided into six distinct ranger districts: Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs, Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla-Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Potosi-Fredericktown, and the Salem. The six ranger districts actually comprise nine overall unique tracts of forests. Its headquarters are in Rolla, Missouri.
The area we visited is located in the Eleven Point District. Although it is far from being the largest National Forest in acreage, Mark Twain National Forest is located in more counties than any other. Its 1,490,862 acres are spread over parts of 29 counties in southern and central Missouri.

Boze Mills Spring

We stopped for directions to our turnoff and I saw the sign on the left. Yeah, I just had to... On the right is my first look at Boze Mills Spring.

Closer looks at the emerald green spring

Zhnee looks around before taking the plunge

"It's cold in here!"

Boze Mills Springs heading for Eleven Point River

Another look at the spring and a blue heron looking for a meal

Here the spring is heading to the location of Boze Mills. On the right is water in.

On the left is water out. On the right is water to Eleven Points River.

Zhnee photographing a part of the old mill

Water rushing to the river

On the left are parts of the old Boze Mills. On the right is part of the Eleven Points River

A dragonfly

Full circle back to the springs

The Irish Wilderness

In the mid 1800's a Catholic priest, Father John Hogan of St. Louis, had a dream of a place where Irish immigrants could escape the oppression of urban life in St. Louis. It was in this wild area of the Missouri Ozark Mountains that Father Hogan established a settlement that would forever bear their name, Irish Wilderness. It was here that Father Hogan said people could "so profoundly worship in the depth of the leafy forest... where solitude and the heart of man united in praise and wonder of the Great Creator."

Irish Wilderness

An unusual butterfly in the parking area
The timing of the ill-fated settlement was not right, as the Civil War erupted. The Irish WIlderness was caught in the middle, became a "no man's land" and was raided by both Union and Confederate troops as well as bushwhackers. It is not certain what happened to Father Hogan's Irish immigrants, but after the war they were gone.
The mystery of the Irish immigrants is part of the character of the land today. Since that time the area has been over-logged and grazed clean of vegetation. But today, thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Forest Service and the amazing ability of the the land, the Irish Wilderness has regained that same character that Father Hogan found.

Camp Five Pond

The Irish is characterized by a rolling topography with a wide variety of Karst topography features such as sinkholes, disappearing streams and caves. Elevations range from less than 500 feet near the Eleven Point River to over 900 feet in the northeast corner of the Camp Five Pond.
Source: National Forest Service

Flowers and a trail to follow

Another heron searching for a meal

Purple wildflowers

Two bees and two butterflies pollunating the flowers

Pretty butterfly


Zhnee photographing me and turtles about to mate

On the drive back home we spotted this peahen with her seven chicks crossing the road. This is the best shot I could get.
It was a very good day. It had been a long time since I was traipsing through a forest. Thanks, Zhnee.

Music is "Kilgary Mountains"

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