There were few things, and few places, that we were able to get all five of our children to agree on at the same time. But one spot always brought smiles to their faces and a rush to get into the car and be off on a family adventure. Maramec Spring Park is this family’s collective favorite place on the planet. Our children now live in five different states, but anytime they are home, Maramec Spring is a must visit. We go there to walk, to talk, to celebrate important family events, to feed the fish, even to get our toes freezing cold when we stick them into the cold spring water.
Maramec Spring is located on the Meramec (yes, they are spelled differently) River near St. James, MO. This area of the state has a karst topography, which means it has many springs and caves. Maramec Spring is the fifth largest spring in Missouri with an average flow of 96,300,000 gallons per day. It is at this point, where the Meramec River joins the Dry Fork, that the river becomes navigable. As the river moves to join the Dry Fork, it creates a beautiful mile long run of small rapids, wading spots, and great trout fishing opportunities. There are several hiking and driving trails in the park. One of my favorite things to do is to take the walk around the spring branch of the river. Here are some of the things you can see along the way.
Maramec Spring Park is one of four trout parks in Missouri. It also operates a hatchery which produces 100,000 trout a year, all of which are stocked in the park. Another 40,000 trout are brought into the park from the hatchery at nearby Montauk State Park. Trout fishing begins on March 1 and continues into the fall. You can almost always see fishermen busy catching trout on the river. We think there is no better eats than fresh caught trout from one of Missouri’s fish parks.
The area around Maramec Spring has historic, as well as recreational, significance. From 1827 until 1891, iron was produced at Maramec Iron Works. Thomas James was an ironmonger, who with his family, built the iron works near the spring. The water from the spring was used to power the operation. The iron works supplied iron for cannonballs and gunships during the Civil War. There are still many relics in the park which lend understanding to what a massive undertaking this was. You can still walk into some of the hematite pits which supplied the ore for the iron works, as well as view the iron work’s furnace. The park has an excellent museum that explains the process of turning ore into pig iron. Each October, the park hosts “Old Iron Works Days”. In addition to crafts and really good food, this event provides an opportunity to see what life was like in the day of the iron works.
For more information about the park and trout fishing in the river, you can go to their website at http://www.maramecspringpark.com/maramec/.
Missouri Style Crab Cakes
Our youngest son lives in Maryland. Whenever we visit him, I must have crab cakes. But it is hard to find crab in Missouri that comes from American waters, and I do not like to purchase seafood of any kind imported from another country. So, I was very happy to find this recipe for Missouri Style Crab Cakes. I have adapted the recipe from the original, which is from Cooking Wild in Missouri, by Bernadette Dryden. It was published in 2011, by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is available from their website, http://mdc.mo.gov/. This is a great cookbook and I highly recommend it.
- 1 cup trout (use leftovers from a previous grilling)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, divided
- 4 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- a dash of red pepper flakes, or to taste
- juice of one small lemon, optional
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Combine the trout with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and all the ingredients through the salt and pepper. Form this moist mixture into four patties. Dip the patties into the rest of the breadcrumbs, firmly pressing the crumbs onto the patties. Fry the patties in the butter on medium heat until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the patties, and do the same on the other side. Enjoy!