The Springs

The old mills that once used this water for power - to grind corn and wheat, cut lumber, and gin cotton - are silent now, or gone. But in days past, they heard many a tall tale and somber discussion as residents gathered on Saturdays to socialize and talk about everything from politics to crops.

After the Civil War, a young veteran, John H. Blanchard, left his family's plantation home in Kentucky to search for a place of greater solitude - place which could offer escape from the aftermath of war. He had enrolled as a private on July 23, 1861, to serve with the Kentucky Volunteers of the confederate army. During four years of bitter conflict, Blanchard fought in several campaigns and was wounded at Chickamauga. By the time the war ended, Blanchard had been promoted to lieutenant and cited for gallant and meritorious conduct.

Near Blanchard Springs in the peaceful Ozarks, he homesteaded 160 acres of land and built an undershot grist mill. Before his death in 1914, at the age of 74, he was elected to two terms as county treasurer.

Some things in the natural system seem exempt from the passage of time. Blanchard Springs is one. Today, water still pours abundantly from the spring. A scenic trail and pedestrian bridge lead visitors back to John Blanchard's spring. Here in 1971, scuba divers entered to explore the mysterious watercourse all the way to the natural entrance.

In 4,000 feet of unexplored, mostly water-filled passageways, the scuba divers mapped five inaccessible air filled rooms and corridors. They returned with photographs of remarkable cave formations, waterfalls and cave life. The also brought back valuable data on the rate of water flow through this portion of the cave. They determined that it takes eighteen and a half hours for water to flow through 1,000 feet of cave passages full of water, and five hours to flow through 3,000 feet of stream in the air-filled rooms. A cave journey of less than a mile takes almost 24 hours