Gauge Description:

(Also see Gauge FAQ)
Look for ½" of rain within 6 hours at rain gages in upper watershed (Roselle and above). Dry ground takes more rain but intense rain at any upstream gage can bring a delayed rise in the river as much as 12-24 hrs later. The USGS Roselle gauge is accessible either on-line or by phone at 1-573-546-2502. The Roselle gauge is correlated with the paddler's gauge on the footbridge (old highway D bridge) at the takeout in Silver Mines Recreation Area. The paddler's gauge is on a bridge pier with marks from 0 to 42 inches (top of the bridge). For levels up to the top of the bridge, the approximate conversion is
D-bridge (inches) = 15 * (Roselle – 3)
Levels over the bridge are marked on the road in 1-foot intervals as the road goes up the hill. For levels that are over the bridge, the approximate conversion is
D-bridge (feet over the bridge) = (5/4) * (Roselle – 6)
Since it is pretty much the “only game in town” for regional paddlers, the Lower St. Francis is boated over a wide range of levels. Because of its gradient, the Tiemann Shut-ins section significantly increases in difficulty with greater flow, as shown in the table below:
 

St. Francis @ Roselle
(feet)
St. Francis @ Roselle
(cfs)
D-bridge gauge Lower St. Francis rating
3 - 4 150 - 500 0 - 15 in II - III
4 - 5 500 - 1000 15 - 30 in III
5 - 6 1000 - 1700 30 - 45 in (top of bridge) III+
6 - 8 1700 - 3800 top of bridge - 2.5 ft over IV– (p)
8 - 10 3800 - 6800 2.5 - 5 ft over bridge IV (p)
10 - 12 6800 - 11000 5 - 7.5 ft over bridge IV+ (p)
12 - 14 11000 - 16500 7.5 - 10 ft over bridge V– (p)
14 - 18 16500 - 31000 10 - 15 ft over bridge V (p)
18 - 22 31000 - 52000 15 - 20 ft over bridge V+ (p)

(p) = portage Silver Mines dam
When the river is near or over D bridge (Roselle > 6ft), the breach in Silver Mines Dam forms a dangerous hole that just keeps getting bigger as the level rises. When the river is high enough for the entire dam to be covered (Roselle > 8ft), the extremely hazardous pourover is best viewed from the portage on river-right.

Many people boat the Lower Saint when the D-bridge paddler’s gage is below 0 inches (USGS Roselle gage 3ft or less). But be aware that several factors can screw up the correlation between the two gages, especially at low levels (see FAQ#3 below). A 6 inch difference between actual D-bridge level and D-bridge level from the formula may not mean much when the river is 2 feet over D-bridge but means a lot when there is barely enough water to float a boat! In spite of this, because it’s pretty much the only game in town for regional paddlers, the Lower Saint is frequently paddled at low, boney levels, particularly when the weather is nice.

 

Gauge FAQ:
1. The highway D bridge over the St. Francis is neither a low-water bridge nor is there a gauge on it. What gives?
The low-water bridge with the gauge is the old highway D bridge. In 1993, the highway department by-passed this bridge with a new, high bridge. The low-water bridge was blocked to vehicular traffic and left as a pedestrian walkway. Although technically incorrect, paddlers still refer to the old bridge with the gauge as "D-bridge."
2. How good are the conversion equations at giving actual (real-time) D-bridge values?
Generally within a few inches on D-bridge when Roselle range is 3 - 9 ft. and the river is not rapidly rising. For higher levels, the correlation is not as good but still works after a fashion. The gauge conversion seems to work best when there was general rainfall over the entire watershed.
3. Why don't D-bridge values as estimated from the conversion formulas agree better with actual values?
The Roselle gauge is at highway 72 bridge, more than 5 miles upstream from the paddler's gauge on D-bridge. In between the gauges are one major tributary (Stouts Creek) and two minor tributaries (Mud Creek and Turkey Creek). The correlation between the two gauges can be influenced by such things as a rapidly rising river, rainfall variance in the St. Francis and tributary watersheds, wintertime freezing conditions, summertime vegetation growth, and even a beaver dam in the downstream outflow of the pool where the Roselle gauge is located.
4. In the Gauge description section, it says that the top of D-bridge is 42 inches on the paddler's gauge but the table says 45 inches. So which is it?
The top of the bridge is actually 42 inches. It's given to be 45 inches in the table for simplicity since a one-foot change in the USGS gauge represents an approximate 15-inch change in the D-bridge gauge.
5. The conversion formula for “feet over the bridge” doesn't quite agree with the formula for “inches on the bridge.” Why is this?
Again, for simplicity. The “exact” formula should be (5/4)*(Roselle – 29/5). By using “6” instead of “29/5” we're underestimating the level by 3 inches. Precision isn't warranted here since both formulas were meant to give only approximate conversions anyway.
 

 

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
St. Francis River near Roselle, MO
usgs-07034000 3.00 - 6.00 ft II-III 3y8d13h57m 3.23 ft (running)
gauge class ~150-500 cfs; 0-15" on D-bridge;
Level shown is from USGS gauge at Upper St. Francis put-in.
gauge graph
RangeWater LevelDifficultyComment
0.00 -3.00 ft extremely Low-barely Low I-II(III) gauge is important or has warning Under 150 cfs; under 0" at D-bridge gauge;
3.00 -4.00 ft barely runnable-med runnable II-III gauge is important or has warning ~150-500 cfs; 0-15" on D-bridge;
4.00 -5.00 ft med runnable-a bit pushy runnable III gauge is important or has warning ~500-1000 cfs; ~15-30" on D-bridge;
5.00 -6.00 ft a bit pushy runnable-high runnable III+ gauge is important or has warning ~1000-1700 cfs; ~30-45" at D-bridge (top of bridge)
6.00 -12.00 ft somewhat High-somewhat High IV gauge is important or has warning ~1,700-12,000 cfs; top of bridge to 7.5' over; ***PORTAGE the dam***
12.00 -22.00 ft somewhat High-extremely High V gauge is important or has warning ~11,000-52,000 cfs; 7.5' to 20' over the bridge; ***PORTAGE the dam***

Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.

When River/Gauge Subject Level Reporter
St Francis [MO] Josh Boffing Cat's Paw 4.3 Matthew Plank
St. Francis [MO] Bill playing 12" clinton begley
St. Francis [MO] Clint Relaxing at Big Drop 12" clinton begley
St. Francis River in Missouri [MO] Double Drop 12 inches @ D bridge Bryan Greaser
Saint Francis River [MO] Big Drop from river left 12 inches @ D Bridge Bryan Greaser
Saint Francis River [MO] river from riverside hiking trail n/a Bryan Greaser
St. Francis [MO] Cats Paw 35" Michael Gordon
Saint Francis [MO] Big Drop n/a Daniel Cytron
6y72d07h05m /St. Francis-3. (Tiemann Shut-Ins) Millstream Gardens to Silver Mines [MO] Levi boof at Cats Paw 0 cfs John Tansil
> 10 years St. Francis [MO] Diane playing at Double Drop 18 in John Tansil
> 10 years St. Francis [MO] Cats Paw 35" Michael Gordon