Tag Archives: gigging

Visiting Galena the Pictorial

17 Feb

I spent the better part of Thursday in and around Galena, the Stone County seat. I was a bit surprised to find some construction going on around the town. I won’t mention what, I’ll only say it looks very interesting as spring is just around the corner and I’m sure they want some visitors. You need to head down by the river and check out what some of the folks are doing there. I took a good amount of photos and intend to start galleries for most every town down stream from Springfield. In the future you will be able to visit every local access point on the river and see what it has to offer. Making your “James River Float Trips” much easier to plan.

You can find more vintage photos in the Galena Library. This photo by Hall Photo Co. shows gig fishing on the James. Probably circa 1940's!

Hall Photo Co. from Galena captured this shot of the Galena Clubhouse.

The fish camp is much the same today. With outfitters located right in Galena you can be sure to have a great time now, just like these guys did back then.

Spoonbill season is fast approaching, this is part of the Galena heritage.

For more shots visit the Galena Gallery. Photos shown above are from Galena Chamber of Commerce.

Quality of Some Ozarks Rivers, Streams “Impaired”

17 Feb

(Branson, MO) — Governor Jay Nixon will stop in the Ozarks Thursday on the heels of a discouraging water quality study of area rivers and streams.

The Ozarks Water Watch Foundation has released its third annual “Status of the Watershed.”

The report is based on surveys of water quality in selected rivers and streams which flow into Beaver, Table Rock, Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals Lakes. It finds that every site sampled is classified as “impaired,” and assigns them a “C” grade.

David Casaletto, President of the Foundation, says the greatest source of problems comes from excessive nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, as well as sediment washed by runoff into rivers and streams.

On Thursday, Governor Nixon and Department of Natural Resources Director Sara Parker Pauley will stop at Ameren’s Bagnell Dam Scenic Overlook at Lake of the Ozarks.

At 11 am, they will announce the awarding of $740,000 grant to Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance. Then at 1:15 pm, the two will stop at Table Rock Lake State Park marina to announce the awarding of $550,000 grant to Table Rock Lake Water Quality Inc.

“Status of the Watershed” report.

Springfield News-Leader Report

White River Monster

15 Feb

The City of Newport is located in Northeast Arkansas it’s a sleepy little river community of about 8,000 where industry, education and community leaders are working together to create a great town. Newport has been involved in numerous programs that are aimed at keeping our community the kind of place everyone would be proud to call home. From being a Keep America Beautiful Affiliate to being and Arkansas Community of Excellence, they do what it takes to live up to their motto, “Proud Past, Bright Future.” But in it’s early days sometime during the civil war things changed the town forever.

The White River Monster is a legendary large creature reportedly first spotted off the banks of the White River near Newport in northeastern Arkansas.

Some believe the White river monster may have had an impact on the Civil War. The river was used for transportation, and the monster was supposedly responsible for overturning a boat. Sightings of the monster began in 1915. On July 1 of that year, an owner of a plantation near the river saw the monster. He reported it having gray skin and “as wide as a car and three cars long.” As the news spread construction of a rope net began, but ended due to lack of money and materials.

The White River Monster was sighted again in the summer of 1971. That year, eyewitnesses who encountered the creature described it as “the size of a boxcar” with a bone protruding from its forehead. “It looked as if the thing was peeling all over, but it was a smooth type of skin or flesh,” said one, and it made strange noises that sounded like a combination of a “cow’s moo and a horse’s neigh.” Other accounts of the White River Monster described three-toed tracks, 14 inches (360 mm) in length, on Towhead Island leading down to the river through a path of bent trees and crushed bushes

The monster gets national attention.

From season 2 of The “Lost Tapes” episode. Lost Tapes depicts fictional, traumatic scenarios in which cryptids, aliens or supernatural creatures attack people. Although the series is shot in a documentary style, it is a fictional work. The series never states that its footage is real, only that it has been “inspired by the possibility that hidden creatures exist.” Normally, the episode with a quick fact introduction with conducted interviews by experts explaining the science and folklore behind the creature; however, by season 3, the factoid introduction is omitted in favor of a violent prologue committed by the episode’s creature, which set up the events in the episode.

Time Magazine in 1937 reported…
One hot morning early in July the wife of Dee Wyatt, Negro sharecropper living on the banks of White River near Newport, Ark. shuffled out to her backyard pump, drew a bucket of water, groaned a mite as she paused to rest her back. Casually she glanced across the turgid river, then shrieked and scurried into the ramshackle house after her husband. Dee Wyatt popped his head out, took one look, and straightway headed for the home of Bramlett Bateman, nearest white farmer. He and his wife, he informed Farmer Bateman, had seen a monster. Neither of them had been drinking. Farmer Bateman skeptically stepped over to the river, then let out a whoop. Sure enough, there was a monster, “as big as a box car and as slick as a slimy elephant without legs.” Farmer Bateman rushed off to Newport, six miles away.

This White River story was warmly welcomed by the nation’s press, for 1937 has been a dull year for monsters. Preliminary indications were that Newport’s might be the monster-of-the-year. Twelve reputable citizens bore out Discoverers Bateman and Wyatt. Farmer Bateman and the Newport chamber of commerce built a fence around the viewing spot, charged 25¢ admission. Signs were tacked up on all roads—”This Way to the White River Monster.” The story skyrocketed when the chamber of commerce announced that Charles B. Brown, a diver from Memphis, had been hired to investigate at the spot the monster was seen.

After talking to the discoverers, Diver Brown said, “In my opinion it’s nothing more than a large fish—maybe a catfish.” He had a razor-edged, eight-foot harpoon prepared. In Washington, the Bureau of Fisheries said it might be an alligator gar, which reputedly grows, sometimes, to be 20 ft. long. Other guesses: water-logged tree trunk, sunken barge, eruption of subterranean gases throwing up leaf accumulation, devil fish, sturgeon, or Old Blue, the legendary giant catfish of the Mississippi who every so often gets stuck in a canal lock or nudges in the bottom of a barge. As Diver Brown prepared for his first descent, Newport called an unofficial holiday. Lining the shore were hundreds of out-of-towners munching Farmer Bateman’s barbecued goat sandwiches and sipping his cold drinks. A loudspeaker was erected and after much ado on the great morning, Diver Brown went down into the swirling river, rendered muddier than usual by recent rains. He reported that visibility was only three inches, came up after 75 minutes of fumbling around. In the afternoon he descended again, returned with no report. Far into the night spectators amused themselves at a “Monster Dance” beneath flickering lamps. Next day attendance fell off, but Diver Brown descended again. When an air valve jammed in the helmet of his diving suit, he popped unexpectedly to the surface, still having seen nothing. By this time the crowds had melted completely away and so, presently, did Diver Brown.

A River Monster in Arkansas?
by Dale Cox

In a deep eddy of the White River near the town of Newport, Arkansas, believers say that the South’s version of the Loch Ness Monster resides. The White River Monster has been reported since at least the early 1900s, although some monster fans have vaguely suggested that it might have been involved in the sinking of a boat on the river during the Civil War. Boats were sunk in the White River during the war, but nothing in the official records of the Civil War armies and navies suggests a monster was involved.

The first documented case of something strange in the river actually dates from about 50 years later. In December of 1912, an Arkansas newspaper reported that timber workers floating rafts of cedar on the White River below Branson, Missouri, had seen something large and strange on the bottom. At first they thought it was a boulder, but then they became convinced it was a gigantic turtle: They estimated its weight at 300 pounds. The report of the big river monster created quite a sensation among the sportsmen of Branson, and Tom Brainard, one of the local anglers, organized a party to go and capture it. As it will be impossible to gig the turtle they took a number of strong ropes which they will endeavor to loop over it and land it in that manner.

The White River Monster? This aerial photo appears to show a large mass moving across the White River, trailed by a barely visible serpentine wake.

One thing is certain, the nation’s newspaper editors were looking for an exotic story to splash across their pages and the White River Monster fit the bill. The story spread across the United States and by July 13, 1937, even the Trenton, New Jersey, carried the story of a state bridge toll collector’s effort to snag the beast: Newport residents fashioned a big rope net today in the hope of being able to snare a mysterious “monster” whose presence in a 60-foot deep White River eddy six miles south of here has frightened Negro plantation workers. W.E. Penix, State toll bridge collector, directing the net making activities, ordered it be constructed 40 feet long and 15 feet wide with meshes of six or eight inches. He estimated it would require a week or 10 days to complete the net and said a convoy of motorboats would sweep the eddy with it. Six days later news went out over the Associated Press that a “river bottom walker” was going after the monster. Hired by the local Chamber of Commerce, Charles B. Brown of the U.S. Engineer’s Office in Memphis reported that he did not expect to encounter anything dangerous in the White River, but would carry along a giant harpoon just in case. He was convinced the monster was a fish of some sort, most likely a giant catfish.


When will the next sighting take place? Could the monster have moved up river before the dams on the White River were built? Could the monster be in the stretches of James River below Hootentown? Only time will tell.

So…you want to live in the Ozarks!

3 Feb

I was looking around the internet for an angle for a new piece and I ran across a group of people who are wanting to, as they put it, live off the grid. No electricity, indoor plumbing, telephones, those things our folks worked so hard to get. I remember how tickled Grandad was when he finally got indoor plumbing. I can hear him now “I won’t use that dadburned thing, I don’t *hit where I sleep”. There were a whole lot of people in that generation who thought the same thing. Now were catching wind of those people wanting to revert back to the simple times. That might not be a bad idea with the way the economy is headed and the current rage for organic produce. Farmers Markets are sprouting up all over the place, it seems to me as a youngster we had farmers markets on nearly every busy corner, then we called the fruit stands. There were tomato factories all over the Ozarks in every small town it seemed.

In my search I found an article “The Success and Unsuccess of It All” that really hit the mark. Penned by Victoria Drake and her adventure into our hills, complete with all the up’s and down’s of trying to make it on nothing more than a dream. Sound familiar? I was caught off guard by the fact she hadn’t really spent a hard winter in the hills, or thought about how she was going to make the land payment with no income, not to mention how she was going to feed herself. However bad it seemed she had the guts to give it a go, you have to give her credit. I think that it might be best for all us “Hillbillies” to make a few suggestions so she might get a good foothold this next go round. Suggestions and ideas from some of us old timers might make the difference. Show some Ozarks spunk and post them up here in the comments section so she can find them.

Froggin’ On The James

25 Jan

It’s about this time of year when we pull out our secret stashes of Frog Legs and get to fryin’. It makes all our friends envious and of course they taste like fresh water chicken.Frogging in the Ozarks is one of our families favorite things to do on a hot summer night. You can hear those big bullfrogs croaking a half mile away in the hollows down on the James River.  There are a ton of different ways to catch these tasty frogs. One method that has been used for more than a century and our preferred method is gigging. Gig’s come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, some forged by craftsmen here in the Ozarks and have become highly collectible if you ask auctioneer Larry Foster of Foster Auction Service they can bring a handsome sum of money, especially those made right here in the James River area. You have to remember back in the early part of the last century up until 19 70 the gigging was done to put food on the table, whether it was frogs or suckers. The equipment used was built to last, failure meant nothing on the table for the family. I won’t get into the detailed information or history as it has been covered.

Here’s a recipe for fried bullfrog.

1 cup flour

1 cup crushed saltine crackers

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs season salt

1 tbs lemon pepper salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2 quarts peanut oil

Thaw a possession limit of frog legs (16 pair) drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients into a large plastic bowl with lid. Dip legs into milk and egg mixture then drop into bowl with dry ingredients. Cover bowl and shake your legs! Drop in hot oil and cook until golden brown.

The experience and excitement of hunting frogs is topped only by the satisfaction of eating your harvest, and nothing draws kinfolk out of the woodwork like frogs in hot fat. All that usually remains after a frog fry is a little pile of bones picked clean as cotton swabs. This summer, hunt some frogs with your friends and family, make some lasting memories and enjoy a taste of Missouri’s bountiful resources.

(Recipe Provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation)