Lead's last legacy
Missouri Mines State Historic Site
by Jim McCarty
From an alien landscape more
at home on the moon than Earth a rusting hulk with shattered windows rises.
It is Missouri's most unlikely state historic site, once part of the world's
most productive lead belt.
Missouri Mines State Historic
Site, located just off Highway 32 in Park Hills, is the ghostly remnant
of Federal Mine Mill No. 3 and the shaft that once took miners to work
500 feet below ground.
The mill was built in 1906
and processed ore from surrounding mines in what is now called the old
lead belt. At one time the mill could process 14,000 tons of ore a day,
making it the world's largest lead mill.
During its lifetime a whopping
8.5 million tons of lead was processed here. When the mines played out
in 1972 the buildings and surrounding land were abandoned. They would
sit idle until 1975 when St. Joe Minerals Corp. donated the site and 8,500
acres of land to the state.
The historic site opened in
1988 but is still less than halfway developed. Most of the efforts have
gone into restoring the former powerhouse, which houses a museum of old
mining machinery and an extensive display of minerals.
The site is closed on holidays
but open most other days. For more information call (573) 431-6226.