Tuesday, July 9, 2013

White River

The areas around the Ozarks are beautiful. Besides the rolling hills, mountains, and streams that are often breathtaking, the wildflowers put on a glorious show. A big tip of the hat is due here to those who spend huge amounts of time documenting all the wildflowers as they appear in different regions. To identify some of the blossoms I find, I continually refer to internet searches like Oklahoma Wildflowers, Arkansas Wildflowers, and so on. Throughout the collections you can see gorgeous displays of nature’s colors and shapes.

Wild blue violets.
The other couple that had done the Buffalo River described their paddle out into the confluence of the White River. They said there was only one way to go---downstream. Even though the White Buffalo Resort Campground was only about 200 yards upsteam on the White from the confluence, trying to paddle against the current was impossible.

Ozark Glade Purple Coneheads.
When we arrived, however, the White River was dead calm, and any current movement was difficult to discern. On day two of our visit, we were off to learn a bit about the White River and its various personalities. Our trip took us up through Mountain Home, AR, and then on to Bull Shoals Lake and State Park.

The Bull Shoals Visitor Center at the north end of the dam.
Many very interesting displays are found here on the White River
System, the history and construction of the dam and lake, the river
valley before the dam, and wonderful presentations on fishing and
the record catches here.
Bull Shoals Lake is part of the White River system, which also contains Beaver Lake, Tablerock Lake, and Taneycomo Lake, all under the control of the Corps of Engineers. Bull Shoals covers 70,000 acres, and encompasses a 1,000 mile shoreline. The dam, built between 1947 and 1951 and dedicated by President Harry S. Truman, is the 5th largest dam in the world.

This observation patio looks down on the dam and is a great
place to catch a breeze.  The transformer station from the
electrical generators can be seen below the dam on the
opposite shore.  Click pictures to enlarge.
Bull Shoals Lake serves several functions. The first is obviously flood control. Secondly, the lake provides the power to run a hydroelectric plant. Lastly, Bull Shoals is a prized fishing destination with several state, national, and world catch records, like a 40-lb, 4-oz. brown trout. Since the hydroelectric plant draws cold water off the bottom of the 75-ft. deep lake, rather than the top as is normal, the releases create two different fishing environments---warm water fisheries in the lake, and cold water fisheries downstream of the dam. Fishing, of course, is just part of the huge economic impact on the area from tourism and recreation of all kinds.

The White River valley as seen from the observation deck.
The boat ramp at the state park is located just below the foot of the dam. Releases of water through the electric plant are on an as-needed basis, but a recorded phone message can be called for the times and size of upcoming releases. The electric plant has five generators, so current and water volume can be guessed at by whether the next release is a three-generator release, or five-generator release, and so on. When we first visited, there were a number of bare reefs, shoals, and rock beds. Water flow was a relaxing little stream that flowed right in front of the ramp and dock store. We decided to drive into the town of Bull Shoals for lunch while we waited for the next scheduled release.

Everyone enjoys their stop at the Visitor Center.



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