Fourche River

The Fourche River arises in Ripley County, Missouri, from the confluence of several streams and flows through Randolph County for twenty miles before emptying into the Black River near Pocahontas (Randolph County). It is not to be confused with the Fourche La Fave River, itself occasionally called the Fourche River, in central Arkansas. On some maps, the waterway is designated Fourche Creek for at least part of its length.

The Ozark foothills, through which the Fourche River flows, have been the site of human habitation since at least 10,000 BC. In the historical period, the Osage Indians claimed this area as part of their hunting grounds, though they were forced to cede their claims in 1825. Among the earliest white settlers were the Fletcher family, who arrived sometime before 1812. Henry Schoolcraft visited the Fourche River valley in 1818 and declared the surrounding lands “better calculated for agriculture than those of the Elevenpoint and Strawberry Rivers.” Many early settlers hunted and fished along the river, hunting squirrel, rabbit, and duck and catching catfish, bass, crappie, and more. Like the Current and Spring rivers, the Fourche River is fed by many cold springs.

In the late nineteenth century, many German immigrants settled along the Fourche River, some founding the nearby town of Engelberg (Randolph County). The towns of Brockett (Randolph County) and Stokes (Randolph County) also lie near the river. Timber companies operated along the Fourche River in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, no large towns or cities ever developed along the course of the river, and, unlike other waterways in the area, the Fourche was never considered for possible damming. Only about seven percent of its watershed is considered prime farmland. Today, the Fourche River remains a popular fishing stream.

For additional information:
Bounds, Steve M., and John K. Beadles. “Fishes of the Fourche River Valley in Northcentral Arkansas.” Arkansas Academy of Science Proceedings 30 (1976): 22–26. Online at (accessed February 14, 2022).

Seawel, Harmon Ray. The Fourche River Valley. N.p.: n.d.

“Watershed Report: Fourche River.” Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. (accessed February 14, 2022).

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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