Falling Spring (Oregon County)

October 29, 2015

Falling Spring Mill in Mark Twain National Forest (Oregon County), built in the 1920’s to grind corn and saw lumber for local residents. The mill was also used to provide electricity.

I’ve always wanted to photograph Falling Spring and the adjacent historic mill in good light but every time I’ve passed by the site, it has been late in the morning after a trip to Greer Spring or another more compelling location. Yesterday, I asked Joyce if she was up for the three-hour trip to Alton, Missouri, which we could use as a base-camp to photograph Falling Spring twice, once in the afternoon and once in the morning. Joyce was good to go and we were on our way south down Highway 19 by noon.

It was around 5:00 P.M. when we arrived at Falling Spring, after checking into a motel and backtracking north a ways, and the light was nicely diffused by stubborn clouds from the recent rain in southern Missouri. I donned my chest waders and headed out into the wetland that surrounds the mill. I continued to photograph the waterfall and mill house until dark while Joyce enjoyed some autumn reading time with her Kindle. By nightfall, I had some decent images in the bag and we headed back south for supper in Alton.

I’ve always been intrigued by Falling Spring, which emanates from a bluff face about 15′ above ground level. I wonder what the first settlers must have thought when they saw the water continuously pouring from the bluff above their heads? Pragmatic, as always, those innovative Missourians must have seen the spring as a source of perpetual energy and took the obvious next step of building a mill house with a wheel that could capture energy from the waterfall. Whatever chute or other device they used to divert water to the wheel is not evident at this time.


A closer look at Falling Spring, which is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. If you are ever in the area, especially in summer, you might find it hard to resist wading out to get a natural shower from the spring-fed waterfall.

After a restless night, Joyce and I packed our gear and headed back to the spring to check out the morning light. We arrived about an hour before sunrise — okay, I was a little too eager to get out there — so I listened to Bluegrass Junction on the radio and Joyce finished her Kindle book. The clouds had cleared overnight so by sunrise there was nice light on the bluff and spring. After shooting from all the same angles as the previous evening, I finally called it quits and we headed home. When I reviewed the images, I found the evening images to be my favorites, except for the final, long shot of the mill, which was photographed this morning.


A long shot of the mill and spring-fed waterfall. The fall colors have been quite muted this year, probably due to dry conditions, but the image still has an autumn flavor, and gives you a good idea of scale between the mill and spring.

By 9:00 A.M. we were back on Highway 19 heading north for home. Both of us were exhausted but we felt good to have visited yet another natural wonder of Missouri. After apologizing to our two kitties for deserting them for the night, we took a long nap. That’s what we retired folks do!

If you would like to visit Falling Spring, it is really easy to find. Just head south on Highway 19 about 19.5 miles past Winona. When you cross into Oregon County from Shannon County, you only have a couple of miles to go. You will see the entrance on your left with a well-placed sign for the area. Don’t expect a hike when you get there; the spring is right by the parking lot. There is even a walkway to get you out to the mill house.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Website and Print Information:  Danny’s Website





10 comments on “Falling Spring (Oregon County)”

  1. I especially like the last (long-shot) photo, with the clear reflection of the entire mill in the water!

    • Thanks Mary. I liked the long shot a lot as well. The mill looks so small in the wide view of the bluff and tall trees.

  2. Danny: this is stunning! You have inspired me to locate this gem! I am thankful for the work you continue to produce. My best to you and Joyce! Sent from my iPhone


  3. This is so beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful! I love the reflections of the mill in the water in the last shot!

  5. We so enjoy your work, both your photography and your writing! Thanks! 

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®4

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