Jordan Creek Underground Tours


Useful Information

Location: In Springfield, MO.
Open: Tours only after appointment for groups.
[2019]
Fee:  
Classification: ExplainSewage System
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, 2400 East Valley Water Mill Road, Springfield, MO 65803, Tel: +1-417-866-1127, Fax: +1-417-866-1918.
Contact Jeff Birchler, Tel: +1-417-866-1127.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1830 Springfield founded by John Polk Campbell and his family at the Jordan River.
1883 Springfield’s city engineer touted the idea of a large “storm sewer” to convey the frequently flooded stream through the middle of town.
1890s brick sewers installed.
1920s large-scale channel straightening and rip-rapping projects.
1927 The Jordan Valley Improvement Association got a funding measure for a large storm drain passed.
1920s boxed into a concrete tunnel underground.

Geology


Description

The Jordan Creek Underground Tours are offered by the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. The tour shows a one kilometer long stretch of Jordan Creek that runs beneath the streets of downtown Springfield. The river was covered a century ago to reduce the regular floodings of the city. Later buildings were erected on top and the current surface is actually elevated. The tunnel is not a sewage system, but the capped river.

The river, which was the life source of the early settlement soon became the sewer. New buildings used the flood plains around the river, pollution blocked the remaining riverbed, the result were frequent floodings of the city. Instead of building further from the river the river was straightened and dammed, and finally it was covered and the surrounding ground elevated. The plan for this development was placed on the ballot in 1927 by Jordan Valley property owners which united under the Jordan Valley Improvement Association. The day before the election the stream flooded, delaying trains and closing businesses. On the next day, April Fool’s Day, the measure passed overwhelmingly.