Eleven Point River
The Eleven Point River, one of the eight initial components of the National Wild and Scenic River System, meanders through the picturesque Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Its course is cut in the shadows of steep bluffs, through sloping forested valleys and low-lying riparian ecosystems. Barely more than a small stream at its upper reaches near Thomasville, Missouri, it gains considerable width and depth as it proceeds southeastward. Springs pouring from dolomite bluffs or rushing up from a vast network of underground flow systems provide a continuous source of water and beauty.
About half of the lands within the Eleven Point Scenic River area are private lands, while the remainder of the area is National Forest System land. The private lands along the river are managed by scenic easements to assure protection of their scenic values and natural resources. Public entry to these lands is prohibited. River users should study the river map and be alert for private property or scenic easement signs located along the river course to avoid trespassing.
To the experienced canoeist, the Eleven Point is a relatively easy river (Class I and Class II) requiring intermediate experience. Snags, trees, and root wads still remain the most dangerous of all obstacles and on occasion may require scouting from shore. Although canoes are the time-tested means of travel on the Eleven Point River, kayaks are more and more common, and flat bottom john boats are used on the river, primarily for fishing trips. You may encounter boats with motors; motorboats are restricted to a 25 hp limit. Particularly during the late summer, you may also encounter some float tubes, but the cold water and longer distances between river accesses limit this use.
Smallmouth bass, rock bass, walleye, and trout are eagerly sought by anglers on the Eleven Point. A trout permit is also required if you are in possession of trout. Gigging is popular, but not permitted within the Wild Trout Management Area.
October 2, 1968. The segment extending downstream from Thomasville to State Highway 142.
The various elements of the river’s ecology may not be outstanding on their own, but in combination they create exemplary natural ecological communities. There are large tracts of undeveloped, contiguous habitat in the river corridor that is a refuge for diverse wildlife, plants, and habitats to interact in a natural setting. U.S. Forest Service ownership of an extensive portion of the river corridor and its restrictions on human development and management protect and maintain these communities. It is rare to have relatively undisturbed, high-functioning ecological communities within the region of comparison.
The Eleven Point has the ability to support high native aquatic biodiversity and provide habitat for recreational fisheries and at-risk aquatic species. A few species are endemic to single or two states only and in some cases, only to the Salem Plateau.
The composition of the existing geology is unique as it was deposited as a calcium-rich limestone, and due to its original properties and the changing depositional environment, a rare process known as dolomitization changed the composition to a magnesium rich rock. The magnesium ions are easily dissolved with the mildly acidic rainwater, allowing for most of the annual precipitation to infiltrate the formation providing an abundance of ground water and highly recharged springs. Nearby caves that are above the surface and accessible to humans and wildlife are considered “inactive;” the same hydrogeologic processes currently taking place, known as karst, are forming “active” caves in the subsurface opening large voids for water to move sediments through.
Historically, the Eleven Point River was a prime resource to those who settled in southeast Missouri. The river provided power for mills, transported timber, deposited rich agricultural soils, and offered productive hunting and fishing. Prior to railroad infrastructure in this area, rivers made commerce beyond individual subsistence possible. Towns grew around the mills, and commerce thrived wherever industrious settlers chose to put down roots. The Eleven Point River and its settlers also played vital roles and suffered great losses during the American Civil War, and the evidence of these tumultuous times are still present in the river bottoms, foothills, and ridges above of the Eleven Point River. The NRHP Greer Mill is a perfect example of one such historic property within the river corridor that has stood the test of time and has become a cornerstone in the heritage of the people who live here today.
The Forest Service, in partnership with many other cooperators and volunteers, has fully restored the Greer Mill; stabilized the dam at Boze Mill; created visitor use paths around Thomasson Mill; and maintains a recreation site and the historic single room Surprise School house at Turners Mill. Surprise School House underwent a major stabilization in 2018 after the 2017 flood nearly destroyed the structure. It is a rare example of a single room schoolhouse that is a characteristic symbol of American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Pre-European-contact history along the Eleven Point Scenic River is very important. Archeologists have found a variety of use patterns during the Archaic Period (9,000 to 3,000 years ago) and continuing into the Woodland Period through European contact. Out of the 53 sites recorded with precontact components, only 9 sites are considered ineligible for inclusion for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The remaining 44 precontact sites within the surveyed corridor are all considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP pending further work to determine otherwise. The designated corridor provides ideal conditions for the preservation of currently undisturbed archaeological remains.
The quality of experience on the Eleven Point River is unique to the region of comparison due to its low use, pristine appearance of the water, and the lack of development within the river corridor. Unlike other rivers in the region of comparison, where the presence of rafts and tubes in large groups can often be found, the Eleven Point offers a unique solitude experience even through the summer months. Outfitted use, for example, is only a fraction of the use recorded in the rest of the region of comparison.
Scenery along the Eleven Point River is exemplary within the region of comparison. Numerous attributes meld together to create attractive and distinctive scenery, including the concentration of unique geologic features, the rich composition of plant communities, and the distinct water characteristics.