Progress in Parks: Hickory Creek

Clint Dalbom
Park Director Special to the Neosho Daily News
Hickory Creek flows through Neosho including Morse Park

Hickory Creek flows 2.7 miles through Morse Park before leaving the city limits and onto the Shoal Creek flood plain. Hickory Creek is a tributary of Shoal Creek, Shoal Creek flows into Spring River, then the Neosho River, and into the Arkansas River. The character of the stream as it flows through Neosho is an Ozark stream dropping 31 feet per mile. This drop creates a fast-moving stream through the park. The spring fed sources of this stream keeps the water cold throughout the year making ideal habitat for trout. 

Hickory Creek was named by early settlers to this area due to the abundance of many different varieties of hickory trees growing nearby. The Hickory Creek headwaters are east of Neosho near Aroma at an elevation of 1265 feet above sea level. Water from Monarch Spring, Sweetwater, Fort Crowder Conservation Area and Elm Spring flow into Hickory Creek. The point north of Neosho where Hickory Creek flows into Shoal Creek is 981 feet above sea level. Hickory Creek drops 284 feet elevation from the headwaters to the terminus in Shoal Creek. 

Hickory Creek, a fast-moving cold-water stream flows 2.7 miles through Morse Park, Neosho Missouri, what a great resource we have here! You may walk the trail along the stream, swim in the clear cold water on a hot summer day, or look for opportunities to snap your camera shutter on a beaver, muskrat, mink or any of the abundant wildlife that lives in our park, or maybe test your fishing skill for a rainbow trout, Hickory Creek has something for many people.

Our location on the map of the Ozarks has Neosho on the western edge of the Ozarks. The water from here runs to the west as part of the Arkansas River Drainage. This is different from streams to the east and north of here, either draining into the Missouri River or into the Mississippi River. The Arkansas River originates in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It flows southeast passing Pueblo, Wichita, Tulsa, Fort Smith, Little Rock on the way toward the confluence with the Mississippi River in Southeast Arkansas.

These west running streams in Southwest Missouri are unique with aquatic habitats and native species of plants and animals that inhabit these waterways. Many do not exist in other waterways in Missouri.

The Arkansas Darter is one of those species. It lives in two streams in Missouri and two in Colorado. These are the only places you will find this small fish. 

The Neosho Midget Crayfish is another such species. It only places it lives in Missouri is in the streams of SW Missouri.               

So next time you are in Morse Park enjoying the cold clear water of Hickory Creek. You might notice some of the things that make this area special or unique. Just one more reason we are lucky to live in Neosho, Missouri.

Neosho’s parks are special!

Clint Dalbom

Neosho Parks Director