Last edited 2:26 p.m., July 19, 2018
Bass Pro Shops yesterday unveiled the next steps in an ongoing project to improve the Ozark Mill and surrounding area.
A mile and a half away from the 699 N. Fourth St. mill owned by Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris, crews plan to relocate and restore the flood-damaged Riverside Bridge that’s been closed since July 2015 to the Ozark Mill site, according to a news release.
“The Riverside Bridge represents an important link between the past and the future,” said Megan Morris, Johnny Morris’ daughter who’s working on the mill restoration project, in the release. “We intend to honor its rich history and celebrate its remarkable legacy of connecting people to community and to the Finley River.”
The Save the Riverside Bridge nonprofit formed to stop the destruction of the bridge after floods knocked it out of commission. The Ozark Special Road District selected the Ozark Mill site after reviewing multiple submissions suggesting a new home for the bridge.
Morris and Bass Pro plan to install the bridge alongside the mill, pending U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval. It will be relocated to the area where the railroad known as the Chadwick Flyer used to cross Finley River, according to the release.
The bridge would serve as an extension to new dining and entertainment spaces planned at the mill, and it would be open to the public when it’s not being used for special events. Plans also include a bike lane and a link to a new section of trail, a portion of which was donated to the city by Bass Pro.
Following review by the USACE, the bridge is expected to be relocated by year’s end, according to the release.
Officials are nearing the end of preliminary planning stages for the restoration of Ozark Mill, and further plans are set to be “announced very soon.” The mill itself was lifted and temporarily relocated this year so crews can rebuild its foundation.
Already announced plans include an ice cream and coffee shop called The Post, historic tours, dining, an event venue and enhanced riverfront access for kayaking and other activities, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
This year, for the 38th season, the Springfield Ballet Inc. will perform “The Nutcracker” on the proscenium stage of the Landers Theatre, with six performances set Dec. 15-18.