2014 marks the 100-year anniversary of the lake in Cave Springs.  An historic year indeed!

It was in 1914 that Wilton Mortimer Bartlett constructed the first concrete dam, which transformed the fresh springs into a 6-acre lake here in Cave Springs.  He named this man-made reservoir after his daughter, Lono, christening it “Loch Lono” (Scottish for Lake Lono).


Loch Lono Dam


The Illinois River Watershed has an abundance of fresh springs, from which many settlements were named after, but each of the lakes that we enjoy today was made by man.  Loch Lono was one of the very first lakes in the Illinois River Watershed, created by ponding ground water that eventually flows into Osage Creek.  It then joins with Spring Creek and continues downstream to the Illinois River.


Meandering stream in Cave Springs


History tells us that a thriving population and commerce grew in the early part of the 20th century around Mr. Bartlett’s lake and that it’s next owner, E.L. Keith would expand the lake as a resort and fishing destination.  Keith and Bartlett each named the lake portraying their ownership and desire to affiliate their affection for this beautiful, natural site.  All of its previous owners have sought to enhance and share the wonders of the clear cave spring, promote healthy fish, wildlife, and a diverse forest with many land and water recreation attractions.  The result was a retreat where families and nature lovers could gather to appreciate and enjoy the beauties of the area.


Channel Shaded View


The next chapter in the lakes history began in the fall of 2012, when the lake in Cave Springs and the 31 acres surrounding it were purchased by the IRWP.  Many partners came together with the vision of establishing a sanctuary for conservation education in the heart of northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.  It would focus not just on the site in Cave Springs, but on all of the Illinois River Watershed.

Much like the visionaries before us, we will strive to offer a destination where everyone is encouraged to enjoy this precious portion of our watershed.  And it will also provide a microcosm of sorts where Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development features will will enhance water quality and demonstrate volunteer practices that can be implemented throughout the watershed to protect the land and our springs, rivers, lakes and streams.


A lush cave view


The landscape of the Illinois River Watershed has changed considerably over the past 100 years.  As stewards of this land and water, we challenge ourselves to learn from past and to plan for the future.  What will the next 100 years bring to our watershed?  What will we leave behind for future generations to treasure?



Join us this year, as we celebrate both our 100-year history and the vision for the next 100 years.

IRWP Team at the Headwaters of the Illinois River

The IRWP Team at the headwaters of the Illinois River


In 2014, the Illinois River Watershed Partnership will take a journey through the Watershed and continue conservation, restoration and education with the goal to continue to improve the integrity of the Illinois River Watershed in northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.


Headwaters of the Illinois River

Headwaters of the Illinois River near Hogeye, AR

First stop on our Watershed Journey!


We’re starting our journey from the spring at the headwaters of the Illinois River just south of Hogeye, AR and traveling to Lake Tenkiller!   We’ll visit the springs at the headwaters of Osage Creek, Spring Creek, Clear Creek, Baron Fork Creek, Flint Creek, Sager Creek and Townbranch Creek in Tahlequah.   As our team explores these tributaries and the Illinois River, we’ll share our discoveries in UpstreamMatters.com.

And ultimately, our 2014 journey will culminate with a 100-year Time Capsule chronology from 1914 to 2014 with instructions to be shared in 2114 with those who follow us.

So, stay tuned…  follow along…  join in… and help us to capture and share the legacy we received and continue to build upon the increased knowledge and experiences of our generation!


Related Posts:

Water Proof: Watershed Management for the Future

2003 – 2013: A Decade of Accomplishment