Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bennett Spring State Park

Originally discovered by the Osage Indians, the James Brice family established a small town on this large spring about (located now approximately 12 miles west of Lebanon on Highway 64) in the mid 1830s. They found the large spring with its swiftly moving water to be a perfect location for grist and flour milling.
The Brice family was followed to this rich area shortly thereafter by the Peter Bennett family and although they set up rival milling operations, the two families eventually intermarried. (Whew!)

The original town of Brice...
The mill at Brice...


By the 1900s the Brice Inn was attracting tourists to the area with promises of "mountain trout fishing". In fact it is well known that the famous author, Harold Bell Wright fished in this area while serving as a Pastor for the Lebanon Missouri Christian Church in the early 1900s. References to Bennett Spring can be seen in his book The Calling of Dan Matthews, the sequal to his top-selling novel, The Shepherd of the Hills.

I think that swinging bridge over the river looks pretty scary...
I have no idea where this was located, but I bet some of you do.
In the mid 1920s the Bennett family purchased the town of Brice and a fish hatchery was opened. Bennett Spring was established as a park in 1923.

The fish hatchery....


The spring itself is quite incredible spewing over 100 million gallons of water per day. I've heard stories of divers trying to swim down into the spring to explore but the current is too strong, it is too deep, and too dark.


The store...


Today Bennett Spring offers trout fishing for rainbow and brown trout. There are seasons and structured rules to fishing at Bennett Spring and fees for fishing (and camping) vary.


Bennett Spring has a lot to offer the whole family. There are rental cabins, rental canoes, rental fishing tackle, camping and swimming. There is a nice playground and several picnic pavilions. There are marked trails for hiking.

The fish hatchery is now a huge operation and you could buy some fun "fish snacks" to feed the growing trout. Sissy-fras had fun tossing the food pellets into the water while Gramma-fras and I helped! I don't know if you can tell from the photo or not but Sissy-fras also scored a cool sweatshirt in the giftshop. Oh...and apparently (according to Papa-fras) they have the best corn dogs in the whole wide world.
You can learn more about Bennett Spring by visiting their website at: http://www.bennettspringstatepark.com/

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