The Ozarks region is known for its many springs and waterfalls, and you’ll encounter them frequently as you explore the natural areas around West Plains. This scenery is the backdrop for quiet rest as well as outdoor recreation.
- 75 million gallons of water per day
- 5th largest spring in Missouri
Welch Spring was named after Current River Welch who was born in 1859 and died in 1912. The Welch family ran a grist mill at the property until nearly 50 years after the Civil War.
In 1913, an Illinois doctor named C.H. Diehl bought Welch Spring for $800 from Current River and Martha Welch’s sons, James and Arnold. Dr. Diehl built a hospital over the mouth of Welch Cave believing that the cool, pollen-free air coming from the cave and the spring water had healing properties. Welch Spring, which flowed from the cave, was dammed up so the water would close off the entrance. This forced air from the cave opening into the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital was not a success. Dr. Diehl died in 1940 and his family was not interested in keeping the property up. They sold the property and it was run as a trout fishing resort until the National Park Service purchased it in 1967.
60 miles From West Plains
Take Highway 63 north toward Willow Springs. Just before Willow Springs, take Highway 60 east toward Mountain View. After Mountain View, turn left on Highway 17. Stay on Highway 17 for 13 miles to Summersville. Just past Summersville, turn right on K Highway. Stay on K Highway for 19 miles. You will cross the Current River on Akers Ferry. Turn left on the first gravel road past the Akers Group Camp. At the end of the road, park next to the river and walk a trail north along the river for about a half mile. At the end of the trail you will be able to see the hospital ruins, although you will be across the river from it.
Make it a day Trip
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