VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - The Big Spring Lodge and Cabins have been operated by private concessionaires under contract with the National Park Service as an essential visitor service for many years.
The area is a popular vacation and honeymoon destination, and dining facility.
At the conclusion of the most recent concession contract in the fall of 2014, the deterioration caused by decades of use and deferred maintenance prompted the NPS to close the facility until restoration work could be completed.
Specifically, some health and safety repairs were required before the facilities could be reopened.
When the NPS reluctantly made the decision to close the facilities in 2014, park managers believed that the significant funding needed to do the extensive restoration work was more readily available than it actually was.
However, it appears the major funding needed to restore the lodge and cabin buildings is still some years away.
Because of the historical significance of the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins, planning and design work to make modifications and improvements to the structures and surrounding landscape is a very complex process.
Just as the original construction was a lengthy task, restoration of those same structures will require similar care and attention.
The Big Spring Historic District, of which the buildings are a key component, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Planning, including architectural and engineering design for several of the projects has been underway for some time, and a schedule for completion of each of the major projects has been tentatively established.
- Summer 2016: Flood damage repair work on Big Spring Bridge, ensuring safe bridge operation until the bridge is replaced. Flood damage repair of the Big Spring Picnic Shelter.
- July 2016: Begin the complex process of development of a short-term, temporary concession contract to re-open Big Spring Lodge and Cabins in May 2017 with basic dining and lodging services. During construction activities, portions of the facilities may need to be closed.
- August 2016: Work begins on development of a new long-term concession contract prospectus for operation of Big Spring Lodge and Cabins.
- October 2016: Completion of the Cultural Landscape Report for the Big Spring area, which is required before restoration work on the Lodge and Cabins can begin.
- August 2017: Construction begins for the replacement of failing Big Spring area electrical and sewer systems.
- September 2017: Replacement of the Big Spring Bridge begins.
- September 2018: Replacement of electrical and sewer systems complete.
- September 2018: Big Spring area water system replacement begins.
- Summer of 2018: Completion of Big Spring Bridge replacement.
- 2019 and 2020: Construction begins to rehabilitate the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins. Completion date to be determined.
- 2020: Begin construction to stabilize and restore two stone retaining walls, stone walkways, boat ramp, and benches damaged from repeated flood events. Completion date to be determined.
According to Riverways Superintendent Larry Johnson, "We understand and share the frustration felt by many of our visitors over the closure of the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins. There is great passion for this place, as both a traditional destination and a significant part of the local heritage. It is our intention to bring back the former glory and popularity of the Big Spring area, which includes getting the Lodge and Cabins back in operation as soon as possible. We ask for your continued patience as we work through the complex planning and funding process."