St. Francois Mountains 

The St. Francois Mountains in Southeast Missouri are a range of Precambrian igneous (heat formed) mountains rising over the Ozark Plateau.  The official name is St. Francois Mountain but often misspelled St. Francis Mountains to match the anglicized pronunciation of booth the ranger and St. Francois County.

Named for the St. Francis River, which originated in the St. Francois Mountain. Origin of the river’s name, also originally spelled “Francois” in the French way, is unknown.  Some scholars think the name was to honor St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the Franciscan order. Yet, none of the early explorers were of the Franciscan order. Other credit the name to Jacques Marquette, a Frenchman who named the Mississippi when he explored the mouth of present day Arkansas River in1673. The spelling progressed from “Francois” to “Francis” in the early 205h century.

Volcanic and intrusive activity son 1.485 billion year ago formed this mountain range. Comparison between it and the Appalachians and the Rockies place the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago with the Rockies only being140 million year old. The St. Francois range was already twice as old as the Appalachians are today when they started forming.

Mountains in this range includes: Taum Sauk Mountain, Bell Mountain, Buford Mountain, Proffit Mountain, Pilot Knob, Hughes Mountain, Goggin Mountain, and Led Hill Mountain. This up lift is the center of the Lead Belt and also produces iron, barite, zinc, silver, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. Ninety percent of the lead production in the United Stated comes from the area around Fredericktown. Mining here was started in 1720 by the French.  Taum Sauk Mountain at 1,772 ft. is the highest point in Missouri. (Wikipedia; St. Francois Mountains)

Charleston Earthquake in 1895 

In 1895, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake’s epicenter was a few miles north of Charleston, opposite Cairo, Illinois and “Dogtooth Bend” on the Illinois side. No visible was left here. In Sikeston, building were shook down and the Cairo library had it roof damaged. There was no loss of life. (Tour of New Madrid Seismic Zone: http://www.showme.knet/~fkeller/quake/tour.htm)


Within a twenty-five mile circle of Bloomfield is the largest collection of plutons along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. A pluton is lava that has found its way up through the earth’s Crust because of seismic cracks. “The lava type material usually never came completely to the surface, but adds to seismic instability because it weight down the ground.” None is visible in this area. http://www.showme.knet/~fkeller/quake/tour.htm)

Navy V-12 Training Programs

The V-12 Navy College Training Program was designed to supplement the number of commissioned offices in the United States Navy during World War II. Between July 1, 1943 and June 30, 1946, more than 125,000 men were enrolled in the V-12 program on 131 colleges and university in the United States. 

Once the baccalaureate program, the next step to obtain a Navy commission to attend a U. Snivel Reserve Midshipmen’s School where future officers were required to completer the V-7 program, a four months course that included one month spent in indoctrination. Graduates then were commissioned as ensigns in the U. S. Naval Reserve with the majority entering active duty with the U. S. fleet.

Marine Corps graduates from the V-12 program reported directly to boot camp and a three-month Officer Candidate Course .With the completion of the course, participants became second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (1919-1946) took part is the Navy V-12 Training Program. {From 1946 to 1973, the institution was known as Southeast Missouri State College: In 1973 it became Southeast State University}  (V-12 NAVY College Training Program ӏ encyclopedia


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    Having grown up on Little River, I have been fascinated with it. Over the past several years, as a local historian, this area has been a special interest. 

     These areas have been treated much like step-children by Jefferson City and Little Rock. They seem to believe nothing has ever happened here.  Our history has been long and varied. Hope you enjoy my trip.  

    Near Puxico is the swampy Mingo Wildlife Refuge. One hundred and fifty year ago, most of the Little River Valley appeared that way. This valley covering two million acres was part of the largest wetland in America.

    Floods frequently intimated the Valley. Between 1815 and 2011, 15 major floods covered or threatened the area.

    Timber companies came in at the end of the 19th Century to clean cut the forest. Louis Houck, a Cape Girardeau lawyer and railroad builder, envisioned a rail network that covered the wetlands.

    Little River Drainage District (LRDD) Corporation was established in 1907 by an act of the Butler County (MO) Circuit Court. 

    Between 1909 and 1928 the LRDD dug nearly 1000 miles of ditches and constructed 30 miles of levees to drain 1.2 million acres of swamp and overflow land in Southeast Missouri. More dirt was moved than in building the Panama Canal.

    One surprise I had was the number of settlements in the area before 1811-1812. Another was the water connection between the Mississippi River and the St. Francis and I had no idea that Little River had enough current to run a grist mill.

    Norman Vickers


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    Little River's Geographic Past