The Mingo Swamp lies in a basin created by the shifting ancestral Mississippi River. The abandoned riverbed developed into a fertile swamp, which was interlaced with, sloughs, abandoned channels, and oxbow lakes.
The large cypress and tupelo forests attracted timbering operations, which harvested the timber for railroad ties and for lumber. The T. J. Moss Tie Company was headquartered in nearby Puxico, and at its peak, it was the largest tie contractor in the state of Missouri. The area timber industry achieved its zenith during the 1900-1910 period. By 1935 most of the large operators had move to greener pastures, because most of the prime timber had been cut.
As the operators cleared areas, they wanted to generate additional revenues by draining the swamps to produce arable land. Drainage districts were created to achieve this goal.
By 1914 more than twenty districts existed in Stoddard County. In 1914, more than 20 drainage districts existed in Stoddard County. One of them was the Mingo Drainage District, a small district in the Advance Lowlands near Puxico. More than $1 million was spent to make Mingo Swamp suitable for farming. A system of seven major north-south ditches was constructed to drain water from the swamp into the St. Francis River, about 10 miles south of Puxico. Except for the narrow southern extension of the district south of Puxico, the District's boundary and the Mingo NWR boundary are essentially the same.
The railroads followed the timber operations into the swamps of SEMO, and the railroads were subject to flooding, which was common in this region.
A check of the Southeast Missourian archives, reveals that November 1921 was a wet one, and during that month in the vicinity, of Dale, MO, water covered the rails of the Hoxie Sub by several feet. Perhaps with an eye to raising its dump, or perhaps for collecting data for the Mingo DD, the Frisco conducted this study of the area.
The besides detailing the hydraulic features of the drawing provides a good look at the Hoxie Sub between Mingo and Hodges Ferry. Hodges Ferry was comprised of a single general store/post office, depot, and ferry. The map shows the road, which leads to the landings on either bank of the St Francis. Dale was the site of a large sawmill. The 646’ long spur that comes off the Hunter Branch at Mingo was a loading point for logs, which were floated down Mingo Creek.
E. L. Brand, who got his start with the Drainage Districts, was the man in the field for this study.