Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Aux Arc Corps of Engineers Park

Leaving Oklahoma, we headed east into Arkansas. Our next stop was to be the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam on the Arkansas river just south of the town of Ozark, Arkansas. We arrived early afternoon under clear skies and warm weather. We selected the Aux Arc Corps of Engineers Park situated along the banks of the Arkansas river across from the locks which allow barges and vessels to go up and down stream to deliver goods. Enjoy some pictures taken from the park. Areas around the park will be coming in my next segment. Look for it....Dennis


Our site at Aux Arc COE. Aux Arc is French. A name that originated with French explorers when they first mapped and explored the Arkansas river and adjacent area. Loosely translated, it means "top of the arc" referring to the large bend in the Arkansas river here. These words were eventually morphed into what we call "Ozarks" today.

The COE park has water and electric at each site. Some sites are only 30 amp but the majority have 50 amp. There are two dump sites available. The sites are situated on the river side and inland side. Fortunately, ours was alongside the Arkansas river. The sites were large and spacious. Due to the abundance of trees we could not use our roof mounted satellite dish so we had to put up the remote dish. Not too big a deal but worth mentioning. If you're offended by train noise, this probably is not the campground for you, as the tracks are right across the river.

This is a view from the back of our site. The Arkansas river makes a huge bend here with the town of Ozark, Arkansas at the apex. The river is so wide here that this area is referred to as Ozark Lake. In the distance is the railroad bridge and while I never counted, I'd estimate about 14 trains use these tracks daily. Fishing along the banks was excellent. The park also offers a very large play area for the kids.

For those not familiar with the Army Corps of Engineers, it is a federal agency that employs about 37,000 civilian and military personnel. It was established on June 11, 1775. Yes, it's 243 years old! The corps' mission is to "Deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation's security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters." Most of their work is preventing maritime disasters and maintaining flood control and waterway navigation.

If you look closely at this picture, just below and to the right of the bridge, you can see one of the freight trains. There are several unprotected and protected crossings along these tracks. While they run across the river from the campground, the trains are required to sound their horns as they pass these crossings. Obviously, they can be heard from your campsite. Since we enjoy trains, we didn't find them disruptive.

This park is one example of the corps byproducts of flood control and waterway navigation. All locks and dams along major rivers in the United States are run by USACE.

Here, you can see the dam and the adjacent locks in the foreground. The large concrete facility at the far end is at the entrance to the campground. 

Since the Arkansas river is used to move cargo to ports up and down stream, there has to be a device that allows them to pass the dams. This is where the locks come into play. Simply put, a lock is a huge passageway that is sealed on both ends. When a cargo barge approaches, one end opens and allows the ship to proceed into the passageway. That end is then closed. If the river is higher at the far side of the dam, then the passageway fills with water raising the ship to the level of the far side.

Here is one of the large boats that push the barges up and down the river. These boats, referred to as 'towboats', have engines ranging from 600-11,000HP. Here, on the Arkansas river, they are limited to 5,000HP and generally push 16 barges at a time. Each barge is typically about 200 feet long and 35 feet wide. A typical 'tow' would be 6-7 barges long and 5-6 barges wide.
The towboat pushes the barges into the lock to be allowed to proceed down the river.

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