Several years ago I was reading a book about Stone County (Missouri) history and came across a photo of a very large natural arch. The caption referred to it as the “Hurley Arch” and at one time (1920’s I think) it was a popular gathering place. I did some research on the internet and found absolutely nothing. A few years later I came across a more recent photo and some vague information about it’s location. While Missouri’s Ozark terrain contains many natural bridge/arch formations, the photos and descriptions of this arch would likely make it one of, if not the largest such formation in the state, maybe the entire central US.

Last fall I got to thinking about this arch again and decided to try to find it for myself. I rounded up an expedition crew (Grant and my father in law) and we set out yesterday bright and early in hopes of uncovering this more or less unknown feature.

arch-1After a couple false alarms we believed we had found it. From the river it’s almost completely obscured by foliage.

arch-2There was obviously no trail up to the arch, but we found a rock slide where the brush wasn’t too thick.

arch-3After a long and very steep climb the arch came into view.

arch-4The arch was much larger that I expected! It was impossible to get a good photo that illustrated the size. I would estimate it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-80 feet tall.

arch-5The view from behind.

arch-6Although steep, we were able to climb up a crevasse behind the arch to get to the top.

arch-7The view from the top was great and the cedar trees smelled amazing in the hot weather.

arch-8Further down the river I found a broken fishing pole so Randy joined Grant to do a little fishing. He managed to operate it pretty well in spite of the fact it had been broken and at the bottom of a river for who knows how long.

I enjoy seeing cool natural features, especially those that are off the beaten path and relatively unknown, such as this other natural bridge in Barry County. Makes me wonder how many super cool features are out there that are just not widely publicized.