The Saint Francois Mountains, a range located in southeast Missouri, is an outcrop of Precambrian igneous rock mountains rising over the Ozark Plateau.
This range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America. Unlike the rest of the mountainous areas in the Ozarks, the Saint Francois Mountains were formed by true volcanic activity. The volcanic activity that formed this mountain range is also thought to be the geological cause of the uplift of the Ozark Plateau. These elevations may be the only area in the American Midwest never to have been submerged, existing as an island archipelago in the Paleozoic seas.
Fossilized coral, the remains of ancient reefs, can be found among the rocks around the flanks for the mountains. Both the Black and St. Francis Rivers wind through the mountain range. The St. Francis River is joined by Big Creek as it flows through Sam A. Baker State Park.
The Native Americans named the St. Francis River “Cholohollay” which means “smoking waters”.
The haze arising through the valleys in the cool mornings is a lovely sight to see and reminds us we are merely visitors in an ancient land.