Where can you go to see one of the world’s largest springs with 9 million gallons of water flowing hourly?

Chances are, it’s the closer than you think, and as part of the Ozark Gateway region, many might say the national natural landmark is right in their own back yard.

Mammoth Spring State Park

Fulton County is just one of many areas that gets to the heart for what The Natural State is all about, and at its center sits the nationally known Mammoth Spring.

Forming a 10-acre lake, Mammoth Spring runs southward as the Spring River, a famous Ozark trout and float stream. Remnants of a mill and hydroelectric plant are part of Mammoth Spring’s history. The park also features an 1886 Frisco train depot and museum.

In 1887, the Mammoth Spring Improvement and Water Power Company constructed the 198-foot (60 m) limestone dam which created Spring Lake. This dam initially powered a flour mill, cotton mill, and cotton gin.

The Arkansas-Missouri Power Company acquired the property and constructed a hydroelectric facility that operated until 1972. The company donated this property to the state to become part of the state park. These facilities, including the lake, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prior to 1957, the Mammoth Spring Cattle Sales Barn was co-owned and run by local entrepreneur Kenneth “Bert” Bishop and his associate, roughly on the site where the tourist information center now stands. Local farmers would routinely come to the site to sell livestock and other wares, such as Howard Green, who sold home-made walking sticks, according to published accounts.

Following this period in history, the state Legislature voted to condemn the land and turn the spot into a state park. The state confirmed its park status in 1957. By 1971, the original Frisco Depot, and 1885 Victorian train station, were restored. Today, the depot functions as a museum, containing artifacts and memorabilia.

The National Register listed it among its most important sites in 1992. For many traveling through, the spot offers a nice reprieve from behind the steering wheel of the family SUV and a chance for the youngsters in the backseat to let off some pent-up energy that riding in a car for any amount of time can cause. However, Mammoth Spring State Park is also just the right “day-cation” for those looking to get back to nature without traveling far to do so.

According to www.arkansasstateparks.com, the area includes a playground, picnic area, baseball field, walking trail, Arkansas Welcome Center, and gift shop. Pedal boats and kayaks are also available for rent, but you might want to call and check before setting your heart on this adventure. Contact 870-625-7364 or mammothspring@arkansas.com for more information.

Located at 17 U.S. Highway 63 and just minutes from the Missouri state line, Mammoth Spring State Park is more than just a spot along the highway. In fact, a visit here could lend itself to more discovery of what Fulton County, Arkansas, has to offer to “getaway” into the Ozark Gateway.

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Upcoming events:

“Legacy of the Spring”

Where: Welcome Center

When: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Admission: Free

Almost 10 million gallons of water flow from Arkansas’s largest spring. Why and from where? Would Mammoth Spring State Park exist without this natural wonder? Meet at the welcome center to learn about the legacy of the park & the spring. This program starts at 1 p.m. Info courtesy of ArkansasStateParks.com

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lacy, 34, spent most of her life in the hills of Lawrence County. Today, she lives in Cave City, the home of “World’s Sweetest Watermelons,” in what’s known as the Prince Matlock house. Its former owner helped create what’s known as the Cave Courts where the city’s cave lies above the Crystal River. He fashioned his home out of the same rocks and materials that are found among the cave’s property, and she feels blessed to now be its caretaker for many more years to come.