Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Take heed!

                                          This reservoir sits on top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Reynold's County.
These warning signs are posted all over Johnson Shut Ins State Park. Locals pay heed. Following is an excerpt from an article posted by a local news channel, a little over five years ago.

 KSDK News-December 15, 2005
The upper reservoir at the Taum Sauk Dam failed early Wednesday morning, sending a wall of water rushing down the Black River. The reservoir is part of a power plant run by Ameren. A spokesperson says the break is 500 to 600 feet wide. The break sent a wall of water 200 yards wide down the side of the mountain, emptying the reservoir's 1.5-billion gallons in about 12-minutes. That's a rate of 125-million gallons per minute. Had it been summertime, hundreds of campers at Johnson Shut-ins may have been hit by the water. Company officials said Wednesday afternoon that instrument failure apparently caused the breach. The plant was maintained remotely during the overnight hours from a facility at the Lake of the Ozarks. Authorities in Reynolds County, Missouri say several communities have been evacuated. They say that as far as they know everyone has been accounted for.

A family of 5 was rescued shortly after the breach. The family was rescued when their home was swept away in the water. They live in the house because the father, Jerry Toops, is superintendent of Johnson Shut-Ins State Park near the base of the plant. Three of Toops' children, ages 5, 3, and 7 months, were hospitalized in critical condition. The children were found a quarter-mile away from their home, clinging to branches. The 5-year-old and 3-year-old were intubated with breathing troubles, meaning medical personnel are helping them breath. The 7-month-old was suffering from hypothermia. The older children were taken by ambulance to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, where they arrived at about 12:45 p.m. The youngest was eventually taken by helicopter, once the weather cleared, to Cardinal Glennon. A fourth person was also reportedly hospitalized.

A paramedic at the scene, Chris Hoover, said "We'll never see anything like it in our lifetime again." A truck driver, Greg Coleman, was hauling a load of zinc when he was hit by a wall of water. "I had no idea where it was coming from -- I travel this road every day," he said. Coleman climbed onto the roof and saw that another truck and a car were also submerged, with the drivers also on the roofs. The water receded within minutes. Coleman said he then heard a man screaming for help. Badly bruised, the man was clinging to a cedar tree while his young children held onto other trees. Rescue workers arrived and rescued the family. It is unclear if that was the family of Jerry Toops. Several vehicles, including a tractor trailer, were swept off of Highway N.

It could have been a terrible tragedy had this happened in the summer months.

Take a close look at these granite boulders where we used to swim in these natural pools and slides cut out by massive water and earth movement. In summer, those boulders are covered with people sunning, climbing and making their way into and out of the water. Bill's right; it's a young person's paradise.

We huffed and puffed up several flights on the refurbished trail. 

Bill took a look at the fallen log and dared me to walk across it. If I were younger...
You can't appreciate how high up we were, or how deep the ravine is from the angle of this picture.

When we were young we brought our children here and we all leapt from rock to rock.

Bill said, "This is a young man's dream and an old man's nightmare."
Hiking down to the water was much easier but still required a rest on the bench made of natural materials. 
 This is a wonderful place to visit of you want to take a day trip. There is a day use area and also a new camp ground across the road with paved pull in sites. A fun state park. Have you ever been to Johnson Shut Ins?


Sioux Roslawski said...

When I was younger (a kid) we went as a family. It was always fun, but mixed with fear, because I had heard stories of people diving into the water, unaware of how shallow the water was in spots, and hitting their head on rock.

Thanks for bringing back some fond memories... And for the rare recent photo of Sasquatch!

Val said...

Yes, in younger days, before all the fancy user-friendly step construction, my family used to go there.

I was in the courtroom for jury duty when I heard that Taum Sauk collapsed that morning. Scary stuff.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Interesting post, Linda. It does look like a fun, family spot, but those warnings are certainly off-putting!

Bookie said...

Only been once...it is a rugged but beautiful place...makes one realize the potential power of nature for sure.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Never been. I am help prisoner here!! Looks beautiful, but too many stairs to climb for mr.

Pat Wahler said...

We own property not far from here on the St. Francis River. It's filled with the same large granite boulders and the water rushes through them whenever the river is high.

In my younger years we'd often travel to Johnson Shut-Ins to swim and picnic...always so much fun. Try Elephant Rock State Park, too. It has a lovely walking trail and is very interesting to see.

Critter Alley

Connie said...

It looks like a lovely place to visit, but the climb down and up would probably keep me from going. The warning signs and knowing the history of the place would make me hesitate to go there too.

Lynn said...

I've been there before, but since I'm not a water person, I was scared. :-) And found out that a grade school classmate did die from diving in and hitting a rock under the water... not able to see it. Rather sad.