Ozarks is a perfect example of Nature’s delicate beauty shaped over millions of years of natural phenomena. No wonder, Ozarks is a tourist magnet where people find untamed natural beauty.

In this article on Ozarks facts, we are going to answer a few questions about Ozarks such as, ‘what is Ozarks’, ‘where did the name come from’, ‘what can be found in Ozarks’ etc.

So, let us start with our journey. We hope you are ready!

ozarks facts
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Ozarks Facts: 1-2 | What and Where?

1. Ozarks is a physiographic region in the United States of America. It is also known as the Ozarks Mountain or Ozark Plateau.

2. Ozarks is present in the states of Arkansas, Missouri, extreme southeastern Kansas, and Oklahoma. However, majority of the Ozarks fall under northern parts of Arkansas and southern parts of Missouri.

Ozarks Facts: 3-14 | Where Did the Name Come From? (Etymology)

Ozarks Facts: Etymology Version 1

3. The term Ozark is generally believed to be derived from the French abbreviation aux arcs (short for at/of Arkansas). The French abbreviation was later adapted into English name Ozarks.

4. Before the French and Indian war (native Americans), aux Arkansas actually referred to the trading post at Arkansas Post (first European settlement in lower Mississippi River Valley). This was located in Arkansas Delta, a lowland area above the confluence of Mississippi River and Arkansas River.

5. Illinois tribe referred to this area as Quapaw. The tribe lived in eastern Arkansas in the trading post area. The term ‘Arkansas’ is the French version of Quapaw.

Ozarks Facts: Etymology Version 2

6. There is another alternative origin for the name ‘Ozark’. In 17th and 18th centuries, French cartographers mapped Mississippi River and Arkansas River.

7. The large, topmost bend in Arkansas River was referred as aux arcs which is the topmost arc or bend in entire lower Arkansas.

8. People who travelled by boat would disembark to visit the Ozarks (a town in Arkansas’s Ozark). Hence ultimately, aux arcs was called Ozarks.

Ozarks Facts: Etymology Version 3

9. Yet there is another version of the origin of the name ‘Ozarks’. According to this version, the meaning of aux arcs is “land of arches”.

10. This meaning of aux arcs is in reference to the naturally formed bridges formed by erosion and collapsed caves in Ozark region.

11. Alum Cove in Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, Clifty Hollow Natural Bridge in Missouri are few of the examples of natural bridges.

12. It is also suggested that aux arcs is the abbreviation of aux arcs-en-ciel, a French word for “towards the rainbow” and rainbows are common in Ozarks mountainous region.

13. In 1803, United States of America bought Louisiana from France. From then, American travelers used the term “Ozark” for the upland areas which are present in the above-mentioned states.

14. By 20th century, Ozark became a widely used term.

Ozarks Facts: 16-31 | What Can Be Found in Ozarks? (Physiography)

Ozarks Facts: Physiographic Subregions

15. Ozarks contain the following physiographic subregions:

ozarks facts
By Wikipedian Kbh3rd – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Boston Mountains (North Arkansas) and Cookson Hills (east Oklahoma).

Springfield Plateau – It is situated in southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, and northeast Oklahoma. It includes cities like Joplin, Springfield, Monett (in Missouri), Tahlequah (in Oklahoma), and Harrison and Fayetteville (in Arkansas).

White River Hills along White River which includes Branson, Batesville and Mountain Home.

Central Plateau also known as Salem Plateau. It is situated in north central Arkansas, and south-central Missouri. It includes Lebanon, West Plain areas, and Salem.

Courtois Hills in southeastern Missouri.

Osage-Gasconade Hills around the Lake of Ozarks.

The Saint Francois Mountains.

Border areas of northeastern and eastern flanks of Mississippi River and Missouri River.

16. Caves, springs, sinkholes, losing streams etc. (known as Karst landforms) are common in bedrock of Boston Mountains, Salem Mountains and in limestones (sedimentary rock) of the Springfield Plateau.

ozarks facts
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17. Did you know that Missouri is known as the “Cave State”? It has around 6,000 caves. The majority of caves found in Ozarks is present in Missouri.

18. The aquifer system of Ozarks affects the groundwater in all areas except igneous core of St. Francois Mountains.

19. Dolomite and limestone glades (a glade is an open area in the forest) are often rocky and have a desert-like appearance.

20. It is because of this, there is very limited growth of forbs, and grasses in these areas. Cacti are present in the glades. When it comes to fauna, few animals like scorpions, lizards, tarantulas etc. are common.

21. Highest elevation of Ozarks is seen in Boston Mountains where one can find peaks over 760 meters or 2,500 feet.

22. Boston Mountains form one of the greatest reliefs between Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians.

23. The extent of Boston Mountains in Ozarks is around 200 miles or 320 kilometers long. It is bordered by Salem plateau and Springfield plateau to the north of White River.

24. The peaks are usually at a height of 780 meters or 2,560 feet. The valleys are 500 to 1,500 feet or 150 to 470 meters deep.

25. Turner Ward Knob, located in western Newton County in Arkansas, is the highest named peak. It is at a height of 751 meters or 2,463 feet.

26. Near Turner Ward Knob, there are five unnamed peaks which are higher than Turner Ward Knob. They roughly stand at a height of 780 meters or 2,560 feet.

27. Major streams of the Boston Mountains are Mulberry River, Spadra Creek, Lee Creek, Big Piney Creek, Illinois Bayou, Frog Bayou, Little Piney Creek, Point Remove Creek, Cardon Creek etc.

28. These streams either drain into White River or Arkansas River.

29. Topography (study of earth’s surface in details) of St. Francois Mountains is generally rugged.

30. St. Francois Mountains are the eroded remnants of an ancient mountain range. The volcanic and igneous rocks of St. Francois Mountains are remains of a Proterozoic mountain range which was hundreds of millions of years old.

31. The hills that are remaining are portion of extensive terrane (terrane is any fragment of crustal material which was formed and broken off from one tectonic plate and the material sutured on the crust of a different tectonic plate) of rhyolitic and granitic rocks dating back some 1485 to 1350 million years ago.

Ozarks Facts: 32-40 | How Was Ozarks Formed? (Geology)

32. According to studies and researches, Ozarks were above the sea level some several hundred million years ago, i.e. from volcanism in the Precambrian period till mid-Cambrian period. A relief of up to 460 meters or 1,500 feet were formed during this period.

33. During the late Cambrian period, the seas encroached the Ozarks producing Lamotte sandstone around 200 to 300 feet or 61 to 91 meters thick. It was then followed by the carbonate sedimentation.

34. The carbonate sedimentation spreads all across the Ozarks below the surface but is exposed around the St. Francois Mountains.

35. Seas withdrew from late Cambrian to early Ordovician periods. Hydrothermal mineralizing fluids were formed in this period. This led to the rich deposits of iron leading to Lead Belt.

36. Sedimentation continued even in Ordovician period. The deposits included Gunter sandstone, Roubidoux sandstone, Gasconade dolomite etc.

Ozarks facts
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37. Because of the Ouachita orogeny (formation of Ouachita mountains) in Pennsylvanian period, Ozark Plateau was uplifted.

38. During the late Paleozoic era, ocean basin of southern and central Arkansas was lifted when South America collided with North America.

39. This collision lifted Ozark plateau to the north and even formed folded Ouachita mountains.

40. Ouachita mountains and Boston mountains are separated by Arkansas river valley.

Ozarks Facts: 41-57 | The Lakes and The Rivers

Ozarks Facts: The Lakes of White River

41. Six lakes were created in the basin of White River by creating dams from 1911 to 1960.

42. The six lakes of White River include:

Lake Taneycomo – It was formed in the year 1911. It is present along Missouri-Arkansas border.

Lake Sequoyah – It is present towards east of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was created in 1961. It is the uppermost lake of White River.

Lake Beaver – It was formed in the year 1960 and is situated towards northeast of Fayetteville.

Table Rock Lake – It was formed in the year 1958 in Missouri.

Bull Shoals Lake – Table Rock Lake flows across Arkansas and forms Bull Shoals Lake along Missouri-Arkansas line. It was formed in the year 1952.

Norfork Lake – It was formed by damming River North Fork, which is a tributary of White River. It was formed in 1941.

Ozarks Facts: The Other Lakes

43. Pomme de Terre Lake, Lake of Ozarks, and Truman Lake are present in the northern Ozarks. These lakes were formed by impounding River Pome de Terre (a tributary of River Osage) and River Osage in 1961, 1931, and 1979 respectively.

44. Grand Lake was formed in 1940. It is situated in the northeast Oklahoma.

45. Stockton Lake was formed when the Sac River was dammed near Missouri’s Stockton city in 1969.

Ozarks Facts: The Impact of Dams

46. Most of these dams were built to serve dual purposes – to stop floods and for hydropower generation.

47. The formation of dams and lakes had a bittersweet impact on Ozarks culture. On the plus side, the communities, farms, mills etc. which lived there were provided with water and power.

48. On the flip side, however, the commerce, travel and culture took a hit. Many of the counties had to be displaced and the railways were kind of washed out.

Ozarks Facts: The Rivers

49. Nation’s first national river, Buffalo National River was created in 1972 by an Act of Congress. It is controlled by National Park Service.

ozraks facts
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50. Ozark National Scenic Riverways was created along Jacks Fork and Current rivers in 1964. It was the first national park for USA to be based on a river system.

51. National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established in 1968. It was included in Eleven Point River.

52. Missouri Ozarks rivers include Niangua River (a tributary of Osage River), Gasconade River, Big Piney River (a tributary of Gasconade River) in the north central Ozarks.

53. River Meramec and its tributaries, Courtois Creek and Huzzah Creek can be found in the northwestern Ozarks.

54. St. Francis River and Black River are found in the eastern Ozarks.

55. North Fork River, Spring River and James River are found in south central Missouri.

56. Spring River and its tributary Central Creek form the west central border of the Ozarks.

57. Rivers and streams present in Ozarks are basically clear water. The streams and rivers draw a lot of tourists and water sport enthusiasts. Fishery trade is also high because of fresh water, springs and waterways.

Ozarks Facts: 58-62 | Culture of Ozarks

58. The early settlers in Missouri came from Southern Appalachians in late 19th century. Earlier to them were German and Irish immigrants who moved in Missouri in 1840’s and 1850’s.

59. The population of Ozarks is basically of Scots-Irish, English and German descendance with a little native American ancestry.

60. Early settlers used hunting, foraging, fishing etc. to fulfill their food needs and income. Foraging of mushrooms, poke, pawpaw, wild strawberry, dewberry, blackberry, raspberry, persimmons etc. were common.

61. Traditional Ozark culture includes music, folklore, stories etc. which were passed down from one generation to the other orally.

62. Most of the music had either British or German origins. Square dances were common in Ozark community in 20th century.

Ozarks Facts: 63-65 | Economy of Ozarks

63. Lead belt around St. Francois Mountains and other pockets of areas around Missouri are rich in metals.

64. Beef cattle rearing, dairy farming, poultry farming etc. are common in this area. Logging of wood is also a very important economic activity.

65. Thanks to its scenic beauty, Ozarks draws a lot of tourists round the year. It is for this reason tourism is one of the most important economic activity in the Ozarks.

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