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Tri City: Centralia, Hallsville, & Sturgeon Recreational Oasis

May 9, 2012
By Dax Dollens of Centralia High School Activities


     On Saturday afternoon, when the weather is pleasant and the sun is shining, you can almost guarantee Tri-City Lake will be filled with campers, fisherman, and hikers enjoying the water. On the north side of the lake there is a father teaching his daughter how to fly a kite by the water’s edge, laughing and shouting in joy as the kite finally climbs off the ground and into the air. A few hundred yards outward, on the water from the father and daughter, are two grown gentlemen bass fishing in one of the many coves surrounded by forest. Largemouth bass frequent the coves and sometimes hit the perfect bait. While two men on a boat fish for bass, three teenage boys fish from the bank with their catfish rods, hoping to hook into something big enough to tire their tackle and their arms. Simultaneously, two young boys less than ten years of age, more than likely brothers, are picking up clams by the lake side, waiting for their parents to call for lunch by the shelter located next to the fire pits. The people are enjoying their day off work and school and enjoying this wonderful recreational area known as Tri-City.

     Nevertheless, even with all of the activities and commotion on this particular Saturday afternoon, the peace and quiet of the outdoors is still conserved. This recreational area is big enough to hold a number of visitors and most of the time they can't be heard. The lake is wide enough that visitors cannot hear the forty-five-year-old man across the water let out a shrieking, shrill little girl's scream when he caught that five-pound bass from up under the moss. Nor could you hear the laughter of the little girl flying her kite on the back side of the dam. From your position on the trail, all that can be heard is the sound of a passing crow and squirrels racing across the forest floor. Not to mention the occasional excited goose that is being fed some bread by the campsites, everyone can hear that. Peace and serenity can both be found five miles west of Centralia, right down the road from Stanton Farms.

Tri-City got its name due to its location. Tri-City is equally five miles from the towns of Centralia, Hallsville, and Sturgeon, which is where most of the outdoor enthusiasts who frequent the area are from. I decided to ask a few questions to some of the campers, fisherman, and hikers on this beautiful April afternoon and find out why they come to this area. Being that the fishermen are always the first to arrive in the morning, I got to talk to them first. Two men by the name of Larry and Doug, from Hallsville, were the early birds of the morning, but would they be the ones that get the worm. I don’t know if they got the proverbial “worm,” but they sure did bring plenty of worms with them as they were at Tri-City to bass fish. When the two men, somewhere in their mid to upper forties, were asked why they come to Tri-City in the first place, Larry responded jokingly, “To fish, of course.” He followed it up by stating that over the past few decades, he has caught multiple giant bass out of the lake, and was at the lake today to do the same, thus, proving that the fish in the lake are properly managed by the Missouri Conservation Department and that other anglers in mid-Missouri shouldn’t be afraid to put the extra miles on their trucks to come fish the lake.

Besides just the fishing aspect of the lake, there are many trails cut into the forest that surrounds the lake that offer great opportunity for people to sightsee and exercise. When I asked Amy from Centralia why she goes all the way out to Tri-City to run instead of going to the rec, she simply replied, “I like to be outdoors, and this is the closest place out of town I can run to.” I examined closer and realized Amy didn’t have a car in the parking lot; she had run all the way from town. The lake isn’t just for water sports as Amy pointed out. The lake is good for bird watching, camping, hiking, partying, and picnicking.

     Tri-City has some of the most amazing features a conservation area can have, with the lake and the forest. But, what really makes Tri-City special is the people who go there. Drive out to Tri-City, or run like Amy, and start enjoying the wonders of nature not far from home.

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