Streams by Counties

The purposes of this chapter it is best to mention the streams by counties as they each serve their allotted end in carrying out nature's purpose.

Adair County is served by the Chariton and its feeders, Blackbird, Shuteye, Spring, Billy, Hog and Walnut creeks on the west and Hazel, Rye, Big and Sugar creeks on the east, flowing into the Missouri river. East of the divide the South Fabius, Cottonwood, Floyd, Steer, Timber, Bear and Bee creeks and Salt River empty into the Mississippi River.

Audrain's principal water-course is Salt River, whose tributaries in the county are Reese's fork. Long Branch, South creek, Young's creek, Beaver Dam, Littleby and Lick creeks in the western part of the county. In the eastern part we find the west fork of Cuivre River and Hickory and Sandy creeks. There are a few flowing springs but none large enough to furnish water power for commercial purposes.

Boone County is well watered by Cedar creek, the east boundary line between that county and Callaway, emptying into the Missouri and Petite Bonne Femme, Roche Perche, Hinkson, Rocky Fork, Silver Fork, Graves' fork from the northeast and Lick and Sugar creeks and the Moniteau, forming a portion of the western border, all emptying into the Missouri River near Rocheport.

Callaway County is also watered by the Cedar creek and its feeders in the western slope, while the Auxvasse and its branches do a like service on the east, as they find their way to the Missouri.

Chariton Countie's principal stream is the river of the same name. The Chariton creek, and the east and middle forks of Chariton river drain its eastern portion, while the Grand River and its tributaries, Elk, Turkey, Yellow and Little Yellow creeks, perform a similar service on the west, forming rich and fertile bottom lands as a beneficial result. In recent years, the Chariton River, a very treacherous stream, on account of its very tortuous windings, has been straightened and shortened to but a fraction of its original length to the great benefit of those owning property along its banks.

In June, 1804, when Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri River, the Big and Little Chariton had separate mouths, but the changing erosions and accretions of the river finally united them about a mile inland.

Clark County is drained entirely into the Mississippi by the Des Moines, Little Fox and Sinking creek, Wyaconda, Honey and other smaller creeks wending their ways through its borders.

Howard County is bounded on its entire southern and about half of its western border by the Missouri river, draining its whole area by receiving the waters of Moniteau, Bonne Femme, Salt and Sulphur creeks and their tributary branches, which flow southwardly from the northern portion of the county entirely across it. These are all small streams, but afford ample drainage, but no power supply. Besides the many fresh water springs there are a number of salt springs in this county, the most famous of which is the historic Boon's Lick Springs near Boonsboro, from which quite a salt-making industry was carried on by the sons of Daniel Boone in 1807.

Knox County is well watered and drained by the Fabius River and its tributaries. This river is supposed to be named after Fabius Maximus and flows southeastwardly into the Mississippi River.

Lewis County fronts on the Mississippi River for twenty-five miles enjoying not only the benefits of its navigation but the gain of many acres of very rich and productive bottom lands. The tributaries of the North and Middle Fabius and Wyaconda that flow through and water this county are the Sugar, Grassy, Bridge and Troublesome creek and their numerous smaller feeders, flowing northwest and southeast.

Lincoln County also fronts on the Mississippi River for its entire eastern border. The principal streams of this county are the North Cuivre and West Cuivre, with their numerous tributaries, Bob's, Bryant's, Hurricane, Sugar, Sulphur, Lead, Turkey and Big creeks, which furnish an abundant water supply and drainage for its entire area. The Cuivre is the boundary between Lincoln and St. Charles counties, and is navigable for small craft as far as Big creek, but only for a portion of the year.

Linn County's alternate prairie and timber slopes are well served with numerous streams, all furnishing ample drainage and some affording excellent water power. The principal streams are the Yellow and East Yellow, Long Branch, Turkey, Muddy, Locust and Parson's creeks, all flowing southwardly, seeking their way to the Grand River, thence to the Missouri. Some of these creeks are said to have a fall of six feet to the mile, and by a system of dams furnish ample water power for ordinary mill purposes.

Macon County is on the summit between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the divide running north and south across the county. West of the divide the Chariton river is the principal stream, its tributaries being East and Middle Forks, with their branches, Walnut, Turkey, Brush, Puzzle and Paint creeks, all finally reaching the Missouri River, but east of the divide the Middle Fork and its feeders, Narrows, Winn and Hooker creeks, empty into the Mississippi River. In the extreme eastern part are Bear and Ten Mile creeks, and in the extreme northern part Muscle Fork and its small branches.

Marion County fronts for its entire east side on the Mississippi River. It is especially well provided with waterways, as well as with pure water, chalybeate and sulphur springs. The principal feeders of the Mississippi running through this county are the North and South Fabius, Troublesome, Saline and Grassy creeks. North and South rivers and many smaller streams.

Monroe County's principal stream is Salt River, its chief feeders running through this county being Middle fork, South fork, Elk fork, Lost branch, Reese's creek, Plat and Crawford's creeks, some of them affording ample water power for flouring mills, etc.

Montgomery County borders on the Missouri River for about twelve miles, but is watered and drained principally by the Loutre River and its large tributary feeders. Clear Pork, Prairie Fork and Quick and Murdock creeks, and Dry Fork flowing eastwardly and South Bear and Whippoorwill creeks southwardly into Loutre River. The northern portion of this county is drained by Coon creek, a branch of West Cuivre; White Oak, Elkhorn, Walker and Brush creeks and West Cuivre do a like service for the northeastern, and North, Bear and Pride's creeks for the eastern part. This county has a number of salt springs in the vicinity of the Loutre River, besides other mineral springs, but has a special local reputation for the medicinal waters of Mineola Springs, a group of three mineral springs situated on the old Boon's Lick road.

Pike County is another county blest with a Mississippi river frontage for its entire eastern border. Salt river also runs through the northern part of it, doing ample and extensive drainage and water service, with its tributaries, Spencer, Peno, Sugar, Haw and Grassy creeks; Big, Gwinn, Little Ramsay, Calumet, Noix and Buffalo creeks flow east into the Mississippi; while Sulphur Fork, North Fork, Indian Fork and West Fork drain the southwest part and empty into the Cuivre River. Numerous salt and mineral springs are also found in this county, principal among which are Buffalo Springs near Louisiana and Elk Lick near Spencersburgh.

Putnam County is drained by the North and South Blackbird, Shoal, Brush, Wildcat and Kinney creeks and smaller streams, all being tributaries and sub-tributaries to the Chariton River. In the western part are Medicine creek and East and West Locust creeks. Some of these streams are capable of affording good water power by a systematic plan of dams, though they are but little utilized at present.

Ralls County has but a few miles of Mississippi River frontage, only about twelve or fifteen miles, but is especially well served by the Salt river and its branches, running from west to east, principal among which are Lick and Spencer creeks. Besides many springs of pure water, there are numerous and valuable salt springs in this county, the principal being Freemore, Burnett, Ely, Briggs, Fikes and Trabue licks and the Saverton springs.

Randolph County is a part of the grand divide between the two great rivers that are the east and west boundary lines of this quarter-section of our state and is consequently drained to both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The east fork of the Chariton and its branches drain the eastern and northeastern portions into the Missouri, while about one fourth of the county on the east side is drained by the feeders to the Mississippi and its tributaries. The principal creeks in the county are the Moniteau and Perche, Dark, Muncas, Silver, Sweet Springs, Middle Fork of Chariton, Walnut and Sugar creeks.

St. Charles County is doubly water-blessed in being the only county in Northeast Missouri whose shores are washed on two sides by the waters of the two greatest rivers of America, the Mississippi and Missouri. The county is intersected in the northwest by the Big, Indian, Camp and McCoy creeks, which flow into the Cuivre River, thence to the Mississippi. These are the only streams worthy of mention emptying into the Mississippi, the others all finding their final outlets into the Missouri River to the southward. The Femme Osage creek, while rising in Warren County, traverses this county, running nearly due east and emptying into the Missouri near Hamburg. The other creeks that tend to draining and watering this county are the Dardenne and Peruque.

St. Charles County, besides these creeks above mentioned, possesses another water feature worthy of mention, in the Marias Croche Lake, whose appearance has been likened to an "immense mirror set in emerald." It is located near the two mounds, Les Mamelles, which are parts of the bluffs of the Missouri River, which project a mile into the prairie at a point six miles from the Mississippi and about two and a half miles from St. Charles. Of the scene presented by this lake and the two mounds a clergyman is quoted as saying, "I have never before seen anything that gave me a proper conception of the Promised Land," and Rev, Timothy Flint, in his "Ten years' residence in the Mississippi Valley" says, "Here is presented an imposing view of the courses of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with the bluffs and towering cliffs, their ancient meandering banks, the Marias Croche lake, the mouth of the Illinois River and the vast prairie dotted here and there with farm houses."

Schuyler County has as its principal waterway the Chariton River, which is its western boundary line, and the "Grand Divide" cuts through the western part of the county. The Chariton drains its western part into the Missouri River, its principal feeders being Lick, Elm and Lost creeks. In the south and center of this county are the headwaters of Salt River, and in the east and northeast the same may be said of the North Fabius, Bridge creek, Fabius and South Fork of Middle Fabius, forming very rich and fertile divides or plateaus between them, in addition to the resultant productive valleys.

Scotland County is well drained by the Little Pox, North and South Wyaconda, Bear, Baker, Foreman, North Fabius, Indian, Tobin and Middle Fabius creeks and the South Fork of Middle Fabius, all draining southeast as the entire county slopes that way, towards the Mississippi River.

Shelby County is especially well watered and for that feature of nature's bestowal is dependent upon the South Fabius, Tiger Fork, and North River in the northeast portion; Black creek and North Fork of Salt River, in the central, and Ten Mile, Crawford and other creeks in the southeast. These streams all flow southeast into the tributaries of the Mississippi River.

Sullivan County is traversed from north to south by East Medicine creek, the West Fork, East Fork, Little East Fork and Main Fork of Locust creek, which empties into the Missouri River in the edge of Chariton County. It is also traversed southwestwardly by Muddy, Yellow and Spring creeks, which are said to afford ample water power, if properly treated for that commercial purpose. Most of the creeks of this county find their outlets by way of the Locust, but a few smaller creeks drain the northeast portion into the Chariton, all 'finally feeding the great Missouri River.

Warren County sheds about one fourth of its waters into the Mississippi and the other three fourths into the Missouri, bring on the main dividing ridge between the two rivers. The Missouri River washes its entire south border, which accounts for three fourths of its territory draining into that river. The principal streams of the southern slope are Bear, Lost, Little Lost, Charrette and Tuque creeks. Those serving the eastern watershed to the Mississippi are Peruque, Big, Indian and Camp creeks. There are numerous mineral springs of more than ordinary capacity in the county.


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913