Jefferson City, MO., AUG. 30, 2011 — In May, Big Oak Tree State Park and Towosahgy State Historic Site in Mississippi County were covered with 12 to 16 feet of water and sand following the intentional breach of the Birds Point Levee along the Mississippi River. On Sept. 2, these important natural and cultural resources in the Missouri state park system will reopen to the public. Two events in September will provide special opportunities to revisit these areas.
“Our staff monitored these two facilities throughout the summer to determine the impact of the breach. We are pleased to be able to reopen these areas to the public while we continue to make repairs to our facilities,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
At Big Oak Tree State Park, the areas open for visitor use include the main picnic area and the boardwalk, which takes visitors into the heart of the vast swamp forest. Other portions of the park remain closed while assessment continues on the impact from the flooding. All of Towosahgy State Historic Site will reopen to the public.
Visitors will have a chance to celebrate the reopening of Big Oak Tree State Park during its annual Living History Day event Sept. 10. This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the park’s main day-use area. The event will feature demonstrations of old-time skills such as spinning, trapping, flintknapping and making canvas floor cloths. “Bluegrass Revival” and the “Shoestring Band” will provide music throughout the day and barbecue and funnel cakes will be available for purchase. The Southeast Explorer, a mobile teaching and learning center from Southeast Missouri State University, will be available with exhibits about the history of southeast Missouri. The center features activities for grades three through six so the event will provide something for the entire family and all age groups.
On Sept. 24, the rural location of Towosahgy State Historic Site will provide the perfect setting for an evening event showcasing the night sky. The site preserves the remains of a once-fortified Indian village of the Mississippian Culture between 1000 A.D. and 1400 A.D. Join staff on top of the temple mound to view the blanket of stars from the same vantage point as Native Americans did more than 1,000 years ago. The event will include Native American stories of the night and tales of the constellations. This free event will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“Visitors at these two sites will notice some changes and areas that will need improvements. We can continue to make these improvements while our visitors take advantage of the great fall weather to revisit two outstanding resources in southeast Missouri,” Bryan said
Big Oak Tree State Park is located 15 miles south of East Prairie on Highway 102. Towosahgy State Historic Site is located approximately 15 miles southeast of East Prairie on County Road 502. To reach the site, take State Highway 77 south toward Dorena and turn west on County Road 502. For more information on these events, call Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site at 573-748-5340. For more information about Missouri state parks and historic sites, call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) or visit mostateparks.com.