Every summer the water level in Beaver Lake drops as water is released from Beaver Dam to generate electricity, or withdrawn for water supply, or it simply evaporates. Occasionally, the level falls low enough that Coin Harvey’s “Pyramids” at Monte Ne become exposed. Then everyone in the region is obligated to make a trip out to Monte Ne to marvel at the ruins and at how low the lake has become. On Aug. 19th, Sharon and I made our sojourn there. We decided to take the canoe and explore the cove while we were out. The lake surface elevation was around 1113 feet.
The structure we see in Beaver Lake now is not really the pyramid. Mr. Harvey never got around to building the pyramid. What we see instead is an amphitheater that was to sit in front of the proposed pyramid. But for as long as I can remember, the area was just called the pyramids.
Monte Ne Cove
When I was a kid living in Rogers, I would take Sunday afternoon trips out to Monte Ne to visit the pyramids before Beaver Lake existed. There were several tiers of concrete seats and alcoves that we could run around and climb on. At the base there was a pool. It seemed large at the time, but I was just 10 years-old. Everything seems big when you’re 10! In the middle of the pool there was a concrete stage. I don’t know if the stage was ever actually used for anything. I do know that historical collections in area museums show photographs of women in long white dresses and men in coats and bow ties standing around the amphitheater and riding in long rowboats on the stream below.
The water at the pyramids was really cold. We would try to catch small fish in paper cups and marvel at how the water striders could walk on water. When the lake filled after Beaver Dam was completed in the early 1960s, we thought we would never see the pyramids again. But we were wrong.
Monte Ne cove is out Highway 94 just a few miles east of Rogers. The confluence of the cove with the main body of Beaver Lake is about 27 miles downstream from the headwaters of the lake at Highway 45 east of Fayetteville. The cove itself is roughly 2 miles long. At its mouth, the cove is almost a quarter of a mile wide. The lake at this point is acting more like a lake than further upstream where it acts more like a river. The lake is wide and deep.
Because of the proximity of Monte Ne to Rogers, the shoreline around the cove and the west side of the lake itself are well populated. Almost anywhere on the cove, if you look hard enough, you will see a house just up the hill. There also are several private boat docks along the shoreline. In contrast, on the east side of Beaver across from Monte Ne cove, it is a difficult drive out from either Rogers or Springdale. That side of the lake is thinly populated and still has undeveloped shoreline.
Our trip out on the cove was uneventful. The water was glassy smooth. We paddled along slowly looking at the occasional bird. We stopped and talked briefly with a fisherman. He had gone out early to beat the crowd and enjoy a bit of cool air. He didn’t mention whether or not he had caught any fish. That didn’t seem to be his main purpose for being there.
When we got to the mouth of the cove and looked out over the main body of the lake, a good-sized ski boat came along pulling some wake boarders. We decided not to fight the wakes and turned back into the protection of the cove, where we saw a tree full of swallows. I found that strange because I usually see swallows around cliffs. We chased a Green Heron for a bit trying to get a good picture, but he eluded us. Then three red headed woodpeckers entertained us for a few minutes. Finally, we paddled up the cove to see the “pyramids.”
In our canoe, we didn’t have to worry about breaking our prop so we could paddle right over the amphitheater. Only the tips of the very top tier of seats were exposed. The water was kind of murky, but we could see down to the next tier. It was, and always is, eerie to look down into the water and see this submerged place where I used to run around as a kid. Hopefully, rain will return to the Ozarks this fall, the lake level will rise, and the amphitheater will go back into hiding for several more years.