Woodson K. Woods Memorial Conservation Area, located off Highway 8, near St. James, is one of the most beautiful state-owned properties in Missouri. The area consists of 5,658 acres in Crawford and Phelps counties. The Meramec River and Dry Fork Creek and their tributaries have cut scenic valleys through the area's rugged Ozark hills.
The area was purchased in 1971 with funds from the Conservation Department, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, and the James H. Woods Foundation.
Fishing opportunities abound at Woodson K. Woods. Rainbow and brown trout lurk in the cool waters of the Meramec River and bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass and other warm-water species can be caught from the slow, murky waters of Dry Fork Creek.
Access to the Meramec is at Highway 8; the next public access is at Scotts Ford, located nine miles downstream.
Deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, quail, great blue herons, eagles, ruffed grouse and many other wildlife species frequent the area, 80 percent of which is forested. The forest is managed to provide food, cover, and water for wildlife and to maintain a healthy forest.
Much of the history of Woodson K. Woods Memorial Conservation Area is tied directly to the Maramec Spring Ironwork. The area borders the James Foundation Maramec Spring Park, which houses the relics of a once-thriving community of Shawnee Indians. Those Native Americans collected hematite, a red-colored iron ore, for cosmetics, ornaments and trade. In the early 1800s, European settlers started mining the iron ore, cutting away much of the timber around Maramec Spring to fuel the smelters.