Remarkable men made ‘The Narrows’ possible

Located about 18 miles southeast of Alton, Mo., is an area called the Narrows. It is named after the hogback ridge that separates Frederick Creek from Blue Spring and the Eleven Point River valley.  the-entrance-off-of-highway-142-to-the-area

There are four large springs here, which are: Blue Spring, named for the color of the water; Morgan Spring, originally Thommason and now named after B.B. Morgan; Sullivan Spring, for the Sullivans who owned it for many years; and Jones Spring. All four springs flowing to contribute to the Eleven Point River.

The U.S. Forest Service manages the 142 river access with boat ramp and restroom located off of Highway 142.  Traveling West on Highway 142 from this access, you will pass the 142 bridge over the Eleven Point River, then to the north (or on your right), you will see the big sign of the Narrows.

When you drive up the two-track road, you will come to a parking lot and a gated road. Then, you park and the rest of the way is on foot (.7 miles downhill to the bottom).

As you walk down the road you will see an overlook which will be to your right. It is giving you a view of Blue Spring, which is the eighth largest spring in Missouri with an average flow of 46,500,000 gallons per day.  morgan-springat-bottom-of-hil

As you continue your walk on down the road, you will notice Frederick Creek down below to your left. This road is a narrow road with steep cliffs on each side, respectfully, called the Narrows.

When you get to the bottom of the hill and turn right, walking a tenth of a mile, you will come into the Morgan Spring Float Camp (there is a sign that says “The Narrows” but it should be “Morgan Spring Float Camp”) right off the Eleven Point River with a restroom, picnic tables and fire rings to camp. Morgan Spring enters into the river here.

Now, if you turn to the left at the bottom of the hill from the gated parking lot entrance, you will run right into Morgan Spring and the remains of the old Thommason Mill (this name has been misspelled on the sign). The mill was owned by an absentee New Yorker, so the local community just named the mill after Mr. Thommason, a mill worker there.

The grinding of wheat and cornmeal took place in this mill. Many people in wagons from miles away would come to get their flour or meal ground up. While these families waited, they would make the best of their time. They would catch fish and have a fish fry alongside the road with everyone.  They slept in their wagons or brought along a tent to cover them at night.  is-a-few-camp-sites-in-morgan-springs-along-with-the-third-picture-that-shows-the-third-one-by-the-water

Back in those days the community would always gather for a May Day gathering. The earliest photograph of these gatherings was reported in 1916. People would get dressed up, bring food and have a good time together with families.

The early Billmore post office (from 1885 to 1906) and a store were at the Spring during this time. Waterpower was used to run the grist and flour mill as a cotton gin. A blacksmith shop was also located there.

Eliza Standley was given and granted the Narrows from the General Land Office of the United States at Jackson, Mo. The papers were signed by President Franklin Pierce on November 15, 1854. The tract was 115 acres.

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