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Rural Missouri Magazine


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.

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