I’ve busted up more than one canoe on beautiful Swan Creek. I even turned one inside out – a long story. But that’s not what this post is all about.
Dr. Jim Baker, Missouri State University and host of Ozarks Watch Video Magazine (PBS), must be a real glutton for punishment. He has invited me back on his show again. Third or fourth time I think.
What is most fun is his taste in exotic filming locations! Last time, his 200th show I believe, was on a gravel bar along the upper Buffalo National River to talk my experiences and writings related to that river, and its history. It was supposed to include a shortfloat trip as well, but the water was too low so we just paddled around in circles in a rare hole of water for a while. I get asked about it on occasion, so they must still run it when they get bored. All in all, a most memorable day with Dr. Baker on the Buffalo back in 2012.
Next Friday stands to be equally exciting. Dr. Baker wants to go to the banks of Swan Creek this time, and asked me to scout out a good spot to film in. Which I did last weekend. The river was low and innocent looking, unlike later in the week when heavy rains raised it by 12-14 feet at one point. 12 to 14 feet. Think about that.
I was able to find two separate slabs of rock along side beautiful running water to set up on. Hopefully one or the other will be clear of flood waters by then.
I then took some time to meander about a bit. So much of my family history took place within yards of where we will be sitting. Levi Casey built a log cabin on a knoll overlooking Swan Creek in 1843. This was my grandmother’s side of the family. She in fact was born on Christmas day in that cabin in 1897.
The government acquired the land on which the cabin sat when Bull Shoals dam was built, and our family lost control of most of the property.
But, in the late 1950’s, when the Herschend family was developing Silver Dollar City, they were looking for several authentic out buildings to fit the theme of the park, and asked if they could use the original Casey log cabin, which sat rotting on the banks of Swan Creek, as one of them.
They disassembled the cabin log by log, numbering those that could be used in reconstruction at the park, and putting the cabin back together exactly as it had stood for over a century. This piece of our family history lives today at Silver Dollar City, as a house of gathering and music, because of their passion for preserving the past and careful attention to detail. We will always be grateful for their efforts.
I also wandered up the hill to the Casey Cemetery, where Levi Casey’s gravestone rests bearing the weathered dates of his life, 1805-1859. Unlike his father Abner, who settled along the banks of the upper Buffalo River, Levi and his wife moved north to the Missouri Ozarks.
Swan Creek and the Buffalo River, what taste in waters they had!
Dr. Baker also wants to discuss my new release, “Pig Farm,” which addresses in a fictional way yet another existential threat to the Buffalo as we have known it. And my new 40 minute presentation “Life is a River – A Bend Beyond,” which supports it.
The Buffalo National River has been added to the list of America’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers. Number 8 to be exact. Guess why? First dams, and now pig CAFOs. Confined animal feeding operations next to America’s first national river. 6,500 pigs, ruining our river!
I look forward to gathering with him next to Casey hole on Swan Creek, just down the hill from Casey Cemetery and the old Casey homestead property, to tackle it all next week. If it doesn’t flood again.
Coming next, May 31, 2019 – BULL CREEK REWIND
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