Questionable river miles of the old Galena to Branson float?
February 9, 2017 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Every old magazine article and brochure of early float fishing in the Ozarks says that the difference from Galena to Branson, which was often a four or five day trip was 125 miles. Even today, the Missouri Department of Conservation, a generally reliable source of information on Ozark rivers persists with that 125 mile figure. Of course, the float is no longer possible because Table Rock Dam backs up the White and James River almost to Galena.

Because it doesn't look like that far, I used the measure distance feature of Google Maps to trace the path from Galena to Branson on the water and came up with a distance of about 66 miles. Does anybody have any better measurement of this distance?

Galena Missouri on Google Maps

Branson Missouri
posted by clockworkjoe to Society & Culture (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
to trace the path from Galena to Branson on the water

Are you familiar with the coastline paradox?

Google maps is not designed to calculate distances for river travel, and where they paint blue may or may not be wet on a given day (or month or year).

It is possible multiple historic accounts are incorrect, or that the river jumped an oxbow or two since then, but if your only reason for suspicion is google maps, that's perhaps not the best data point. You could also simply try a different map distance tool, using more waypoints / smaller segments, like this one.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:38 PM on February 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Speculation: Table Rock dam has turned what was a very windy river into a less windy lake. Try tracing the path again, but zig-zag back and forth across the lake all the way from Cape Fair to the dam.

And just for good measure, put in at the Kerr Access just outside but six river miles north of Galena.
posted by Hatashran at 6:09 PM on February 9, 2017

65.54 miles is the distance I came up with by creating a path in GPS Visualizer Sandbox. Began in Galena, assumed a canoe, and lower water (no dam), and took the long way around a couple of oxbows; didn't see any stretches that wouldn't have been navigable before the dam.

Here's the KML file:

This was just a rough, quick effort, but I didn't see any huge places
posted by at at 8:08 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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