If you live close to the State of Missouri, you aren’t too far away from one of the longest waterways in the State of Missouri. The Meramac River is 350 miles in length and travels through six Missouri counties. It provides for various activities by outdoor enthusiasts. The name Meramac has sometimes being wrongly interpreted as “the river of death.” This is probably because it has a long history of claiming lives.
In the early years it was used by flat boats for transportation to the Mississippi River. It was used for the shipping of lead, iron, and lumber. Those items would then be picked up on the Mississippi and transported to other ports.
Today however, it is used for Recreational use. Most activity on the Meramac begins at Meramac Springs just south of St. James, Missouri. From that point eastward is where most of the Recreational activity occurs.
Like any river, it has low areas, deep holes, caves, springs, and rapids. The rapids usually aren’t very large. During a dry year, it is not unusual to have get out of your boat or canoe and carry it to deeper water. When the wet season is around, the river can flood it’s banks very easily.
Many Recreational Businesses count on the river for their livelihood. There are many resorts, towns, shops, float agencies, and game reserves that count on the river for financial gain. People that like the outdoors, bring their recreational dollar to these groups. When the river is too low or too high, the dollar slows.
Many small towns count on the sales tax that the use of the river brings into their towns, counties, and communities. The river was used so much that at one time it was considered one of the most polluted rivers in the United States. However, a strong effort was made by local groups, the State of Missouri, and the Federal Government to clean it up. Today the river is bountiful with fish and game along it’s banks.
Many Outdoor enthusiasts use the many trails along the river for hiking, camping, fishing, photography,hunting, floating, and studying nature. some of the richest mussel beds can be found a long the river.
There were many times during my youth that I myself along with my uncles would use the river. We would fish off the bank or set out limb lines and trot-lines.
Many churches would use the Meramac for outings. It was not unusual to see people being baptized along the river. A church would have an outdoor service with a baptism followed by large meal and fun activities. They would make a day of it.
Respect for the river is important. Over the years, it has claimed many lives. Individuals diving off the bluffs have been seriously injured and even killed. Canoes have turned over and people drowned. The current in some areas of the river is strong enough to carry even the best swimmer away. Each year individuals have been reported missing. Sometimes their bodies show up down stream. Sometimes they are never found.
Still each year brings many individuals for different reasons to the river. There are caves and springs to be explored, fish and game to be taken, camping, floating, horseback riding, hiking, or just getting out to enjoy one of God’s precious gifts. The Meramac River provides these things for everyone.