St. Francis River: Wikis


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Saint Francis River
Country United States
States Missouri, Arkansas
Regions Ozark Plateau, Mississippi Alluvial Plain
Districts St. Francois Mountains, Crowleys Ridge
 - left Little St. Francis River, Twelvemile Creek, Blue Spring, Mingo Ditch, Little River
 - right Stouts Creek, Marble Creek, Big Creek, Otter Creek, L'Anguille River
Cities Farmington, Fisk, Missouri, Marked Tree, Arkansas
Source Elephant Rocks State Park
 - location Iron County, St. Francois Mountains, Ozark Plateau, Missouri
 - elevation 1,568 ft (478 m)
Mouth Mississippi River
 - location Helena, Arkansas, Randolph County, Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Arkansas
 - elevation 190 ft (58 m) apx
Length 425 mi (684 km)
Basin 7,550 sq mi (19,554 km2)
Map of the St. Francis River watershed. The Castor/Whitewater headwaters (darker shade on the map) were historically part of the St. Francis watershed but are now diverted to the Mississippi.
Silver Mine Dam on the upper St. Francis River
The St. Francis River rises in the granite mountains of the eastern Ozarks where it is a clear, rapid stream.
The St. Francis River at Lake City, Arkansas is placid and silt-laden.

The Saint Francis River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, about 470 mi (760 km) long, in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas in the United States. The river drains a mostly rural area and forms part of the Missouri-Arkansas state line along the western side of the Missouri bootheel.


Description and course

The river rises in a region of granite mountains in Iron County, Missouri, and flows generally southwardly through the Ozarks and the St. Francois Mountains near Missouri's highest point Taum Sauk. It forms the Missouri-Arkansas border in the bootheel and eventually exits the state at Missouri's lowest point in the "toe" at 241 feet. It passes through Lake Wappapello, which is formed by a dam constructed in 1941. Below the dam the river meanders through cane forests and willow swamplands, transitioning from a clear stream into a slow and silt-laden muddy river as it enters the flat lands of the Mississippi embayment. In its lower course the river parallels Crowleys Ridge and is part of a navigation and flood-control project involving a network of diversion channels and ditches along it and the Castor and Little Rivers. Below the mouth of the Little River in Poinsett County, Arkansas, the St. Francis is navigable by barge. It joins the Mississippi River in Phillips County, Arkansas, about 7 mi (11 km) north of Helena.

Along its course in Missouri the river flows through the Mark Twain National Forest and past Sam A. Baker State Park and the towns of Farmington, Greenville and Fisk. In Arkansas it passes the towns of St. Francis, Lake City, Marked Tree and Parkin, as well as the St. Francis National Forest.

In addition to the Little River, tributaries of the St. Francis include the Little St. Francis River, which joins it along its upper course in Missouri; the Tyronza River, which joins it in Arkansas; and the L'Anguille River, which joins it just above its mouth.

Whitewater competitions

Missouri Whitewater Championships, 2008

Beginning in 1967 the Missouri Whitewater Championships have been held on the St. Francis River (typically between the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area and the Silver Mines Recreation Area). The events includes whitewater slalom competitions and downriver whitewater racing competitions. Today, the Missouri Whitewater Association holds the Championships annually in March, and recently celebrated the 40th year of Missouri Whitewater Championships on the St. Francis River.


The origin of the river's name is unclear. It might refer to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the Franciscan order. None of the region's early explorers were Franciscans, however. One possibility is that Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit, named the river when he explored its mouth in 1673. Before his voyage down the Mississippi Marquette had spent some time at the mission of St. Francois Xavier, named for the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. The spelling of the river's name shifted from "Francois" to "Francis" in the early 20th century. A number of place names in the region stem from the river's name, including Saint Francois County and the St. Francois Mountains[1]

The United States Board on Geographic Names settled on "St. Francis River" as the stream's name in 1899. According to the Geographic Names Information System, historical names for the river have included:

  • Cholohollay River
  • El Rio San Francisco
  • Fiume San Francesco
  • Rio San Francisco
  • Riviere Saint Francis
  • Riviere des Chepoussea
  • San Francisco River
  • Saint Francois River (mentioned in the Congressional act which set the boundaries for the state including the Bootheel in Missouri)

See also


  1. ^ St. Francois County, Missouri Place Names, Western Historical Manuscript Collection

External links



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