One of the most amazing things about living in Missouri is the fact there is always something new to discover.
This state has been my home since the day I was born. Just when I think nothing about Missouri can surprise me, it does!
Case in point: Falling Spring.
I had seen a few photographs of this spot over the years. When I realized a little weekend getaway to Van Buren would place me about 30 miles from it, Falling Spring secured a spot on my “must-see” list that weekend.
It ended up being one of my favorite parts of that little getaway to the Ozarks!
All good things have a backstory and Falling Spring is no exception! In 1851 Thomas Brown came from Tennessee to Missouri with his wife Jane.
They decided to make Falling Spring their home. The geography of the area reminded them of their beloved Tennessee.
Their cabin was built across the lake from Falling Spring. The half-dovetail notches at the corners work to shed water away from the structure. Many folks believe this construction feature may be one reason why it still stands today.
The cabin was the first house built near the spring and the last to remain. Proof of other Falling Spring residents remain in the Falling Springs Cemetery.
Yes, in the case of the cemetery it is often referred to as Falling Springs (plural) not Falling Spring (singular). The cemetery can be seen as one meanders through remote gravel roads within the Mark Twain National Forest.
Falling Spring attracted the Browns and other families for some practical reasons beyond the beauty. It falls from a bluff creating a waterfall into a little pond.
The waterfall was viewed as a golden opportunity to build a mill. The mill is still standing today. It dates back to the 1920s and was used to help early settlers of the region.
From grinding corn to sawing shingles and firewood, Falling Spring Mill is more than a picture-perfect historic structure; it helped keep people alive and well during some difficult times.
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At one point the mill even helped generate electricity! While the mill is not operational, it still stands as a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of the early settlers of the Ozarks.
Currently, the Thomas Brown cabin and Falling Spring Mill are managed by the Mark Twain National Forest. There is a day use facility situated on the edge of the pond with an open grassy spot for picnics and photo ops.
This rustic picnic area may not have a lot of conveniences, but there is a toilet on-site and plenty of room to park.
Keep in mind, there are still quite a few locals who “manage” the area, too. I had one approach me when I was visiting the site.