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Meramec River

Meramec River

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The Meramec River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

—it wanders some 229 miles (368.5 km) through six Missouri Ozark Highland counties: Dent
Dent County, Missouri
Dent County is a county located in South Central Missouri in the United States. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 14,927. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 15,119. The largest city and county seat is Salem...

, Phelps
Phelps County, Missouri
Phelps County is a county located in south-central Missouri in the United States.According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it includes the mean center of U.S. population in 2000. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 39,825. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 42,205....

, Crawford
Crawford County, Missouri
-State:In the Missouri House of Representatives, most of Crawford County is included within the 150th Legislative District and is currently represented by State Representative Jason T. Smith . In 2008, Smith defeated Democratic challenger James D. Ellis 69.97-30.03 percent; the Crawford County...

, Franklin
Franklin County, Missouri
Franklin County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri on the south side of the Missouri River. Franklin County is part of the St. Louis Metro Area and contains many of the St. Louis exurbs. Census 2010 put the population at 101,492; making it the 10th most populous county in Missouri....

, Jefferson
Jefferson County, Missouri
Jefferson County is a county located in East Central Missouri in the United States. The county was included as the mean center of U.S. population in 1980. It is the sixth most-populous county in Missouri. Census 2010 put the population at 218,733 Its county seat is Hillsboro. The county was...

, and St. Louis
St. Louis County, Missouri
St. Louis County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. Its county seat is Clayton. St. Louis County is part of the St. Louis Metro Area wherein the independent City of St. Louis and its suburbs in St. Louis County, as well as the surrounding counties in both Missouri and Illinois all...

, before it empties into the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 at Arnold
Arnold, Missouri
Arnold is the largest city in Jefferson County, Missouri, United States. The population was estimated to be 20,603 in 2008, slightly more than the 19,965 number reported in the 2000 census.-Geography:Arnold is located at...

 and Oakville, Missouri
Oakville, Missouri
Oakville is a census-designated place in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States. The population was 36,143 at the 2010 census. Oakville is south of the city of St. Louis and borders the Mississippi and Meramec rivers; the area is part of "South County" .-Geography:Oakville is located at...

. Between its source (37.5080°N 91.3276°W) and its mouth (38.3906°N 90.3445°W), it falls 1025 feet (312.4 m). The Meramec watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 covers portions of eight additional counties—Maries, Gasconade
Gasconade County, Missouri
Gasconade County is a county in the U.S. state of Missouri located on the south side of the Missouri River, which once served as the chief route of transportation in the state. Located in the area called the Missouri Rhineland, the county had a population of 15,342 as of the 2000 U.S. Census. A...

, Iron
Iron County, Missouri
Iron County is a county located in the Lead Belt region in Southeast Missouri in the United States. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 10,697. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 9,918. The largest city and county seat is Ironton...

, Washington
Washington County, Missouri
Washington County is a county located in East Central Missouri in the United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county's population was 25,195. The largest city and county seat is Potosi...

, Reynolds
Reynolds County, Missouri
Reynolds County is a county located in the northwestern portion of the Ozark Foothills Region in Southeast Missouri in the United States. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 6,689. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 6,388. Its county seat is Centerville...

, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, and Texas
Texas County, Missouri
Texas County is a county located in South Central Missouri in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the county's population was 26,008. It's county seat is Houston. The county was organized in 1843 as Ashley County, changing its name in 1845 to Texas, after the Republic of Texas. The 2010 U.S...

—totaling approximately 3980 square miles (10,308.2 km²). Year-round navigability begins above Meramec Spring, just south of St. James
St. James, Missouri
St. James is a city in Phelps County, Missouri, United States. The population was 3,704 at the 2000 census.-Geography:St. James is located at...

. The Meramec's size increases at the confluence
Confluence
Confluence, in geography, describes the meeting of two or more bodies of water.Confluence may also refer to:* Confluence , a property of term rewriting systems...

 of the Dry Fork, and its navigability continues until the river enters the Mississippi at Arnold, Missouri.

History



The first European explorer was French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 Jesuit priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 Jacques Gravier, who traveled the river in 1699–1700, and reports that the name means 'the river of ugly fishes' or 'ugly water' in Algonquian
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

. Early variant spellings of the name were Mearamigoua, Maramig, Mirameg, Meramecsipy, Merramec, Merrimac, Mearmeig, and Maramecquisipi. The river early on became an important industrial shipping route, with lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, and timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 being sent downstream by flatboat
Flatboat
Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with (mostlyNOTE: "(parenthesized)" wordings in the quote below are notes added to...

 and shallow-draft
Draft (hull)
The draft of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull , with the thickness of the hull included; in the case of not being included the draft outline would be obtained...

 steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

.

Today, the river is used commercially by tourboats and sand and gravel mining barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

s. It also is used by canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 outfitters and ferry boat
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 excursions. Numerous trail
Trail
A trail is a path with a rough beaten or dirt/stone surface used for travel. Trails may be for use only by walkers and in some places are the main access route to remote settlements...

s travel along the river and up over the bluffs, giving the hiker a glimpse of duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

s, heron
Heron
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

s, beaver
American Beaver
The North American Beaver is the only species of beaver in the Americas, native to North America and introduced to South America. In the United States and Canada, where no other species of beaver occurs, it is usually simply referred to as "beaver"...

s and other species of wildlife which may be seen along the river.

Ecology


At one time, the river was listed as one of the most polluted
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

 rivers in Missouri. Local and state government along the river have taken tremendous steps in cleaning it up. Today the river is one of the most diverse waters in Missouri. The river is plentiful in; black crappie
Crappie
Crappie is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The type species is P. annularis, the white crappie...

, channel catfish
Channel catfish
Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8...

, flathead catfish
Flathead catfish
The flathead catfish , also called the yellow cat, opelousas, and shovelhead cat, are large North American freshwater catfish. This is the only species of the genus Pylodictis...

, largemouth bass
Largemouth bass
The largemouth bass is a species of black bass in the sunfish family native to North America . It is also known as widemouth bass, bigmouth, black bass, bucketmouth, Potter's fish, Florida bass, Florida largemouth, green bass, green trout, linesides, Oswego bass, southern largemouth...

, paddlefish
Paddlefish
Paddlefish are primitive Chondrostean ray-finned fishes. The paddlefish can be distinguished by its large mouth and its elongated, spatula-like snout, called a rostrum, which is longer than the rest of the head...

, rainbow trout
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

, brown trout
Brown trout
The brown trout and the sea trout are fish of the same species....

, rock bass
Rock bass
The rock bass , also known as the rock perch, goggle-eye, or red eye is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. They are similar in appearance to smallmouth bass but are usually quite a bit smaller...

, smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass
The smallmouth bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus...

, walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

, white crappie
Crappie
Crappie is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The type species is P. annularis, the white crappie...

, and some of the richest mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

 beds in the state. The endangered Eastern Hellbender
Hellbender
The hellbender , also known as the hellbender salamander, is a species of giant salamander that is endemic to eastern North America...

 (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) also lives in the river.

The Meramec River includes one of only three Red Ribbon Trout Areas in the state of Missouri, boasting a healthy rainbow trout population and an impressive brown trout population. Red Ribbon trout streams are managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation to produce trophy-sized fish.

Maramec Spring
Maramec Spring
Maramec Spring is located on the Meramec River near St. James in the east-central Ozarks of Missouri. The fifth largest spring in the state with an average daily discharge of of water per second, it is part of an area known for its karst topography with many springs and caves...

 is the fifth-largest spring in Missouri. Maramec Spring Park, south of St. James, is the home of an historic iron works and trout fishery.

Meramec Basin Project


The free-flowing Meramec River narrowly avoided having several dams
DAMS
Driot-Arnoux Motorsport is a racing team from France, involved in many areas of motorsports. DAMS was founded in 1988 by Jean-Paul Driot and former Formula One driver René Arnoux. It is headquartered near Le Mans, only 2 km from the Bugatti Circuit.- History :The year after its foundation,...

 built on it by the Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

. The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 authorized several large dams in the upper Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and Meramec river basins in 1938 following severe flooding in 1927 and 1937. World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 intervened, and plans were delayed and altered, but the Meramec Basin Project finally started moving forward in the 1960s. The main dam was to be at Sullivan, Missouri
Sullivan, Missouri
Sullivan is a city that straddles the border of Franklin County and Crawford County in the U.S. state of Missouri. The population was 6,351 at the 2000 census. Stephen Sullivan founded the city in the late 1850s and cleared brush, which facilitated the building of the railway depot there, and the...

, at Meramec State Park
Meramec State Park
Meramec State Park is located near Sullivan, Missouri, about 60 miles from St. Louis, along the Meramec River. The park has diverse ecosystems such as hardwood forests, and glades. There are over 40 caves located throughout the park, the geology of which is a mixture of limestone and dolomite...

, with several additional dams upstream. These plans ran into opposition from the growing environmental movement
Environmental movement
The environmental movement, a term that includes the conservation and green politics, is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues....

 of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as from recreational users of the free-flowing Meramec. The failure of the Teton Dam
Teton Dam
The Teton Dam was a federally built earthen dam on the Teton River in southeastern Idaho, set between Fremont and Madison counties, USA, which when filling for the first time suffered a catastrophic failure on June 5, 1976. The collapse of the dam resulted in the deaths of 11 peopleand 13,000 head...

 in 1976 increased the public's doubt about the wisdom of the project.

Grass-roots
Grassroots democracy
Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organization's lowest geographic level of organization: principle of subsidiarity....

 opposition forced politicians originally in favor of the project to reconsider. At the request of Senators Jack Danforth
John Danforth
John Claggett "Jack" Danforth is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and former Republican United States Senator from Missouri. He is an ordained Episcopal priest. Danforth is married to Sally D. Danforth and has five adult children.-Education and early career:Danforth was born...

 and Tom Eagleton, Missouri Governor Kit Bond
Kit Bond
Christopher Samuel "Kit" Bond is a former United States Senator from Missouri and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, he defeated Democrat Harriett Woods by a margin of 53%-47%. He was re-elected in 1992, 1998, and 2004...

 allowed a non-binding referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 to be put on ballots in twelve surrounding counties. On August 8, 1978, 64 percent of the voters rejected the dam proposal. The referendum carried no legal weight but caused Congress to reconsider. Under President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, funding was removed from the project. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 signed the bill de-authorizing the project. This was the first time that a Corps of Engineers project was stopped once construction had already begun, and it marked a major victory for the American environmental movement.

See also

  • List of Missouri rivers
  • Tributaries: Big River
    Big River (Missouri)
    The Big River is a tributary of the Meramec River in east-central Missouri. The river rises in western Iron County, near the summit of Johnson Mountain and the locale of Enough; it flows through Washington County, Saint Francois County, and Jefferson County...

    , Bourbeuse River
    Bourbeuse River
    The Bourbeuse River is a river located in east-central Missouri, in the Ozarks region, and is one of two major tributaries of the Meramec River, the other being the Big River...


External links