Part 17: Kansas City, MO to Bonne Terre, MO


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The Trip

After staying with one of Kathleen's Zeta sisters in Overland Park, we headed south toward Bonne Terre.  Along the way we decided that we would see a local tourist trap the Bonne Terre mine.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Our first crossing of the Missouri River.  This was a big bridge, but the steel span in the distance was bigger.

The steel span abutted the limestone cliffs on the far river bank.

On the banks of the river we spotted this protected area which must be to prevent swimmers from being carried away by the current.

Our destination for the day was the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, MO.  I was not an SAE, but our hosts' son is a house member.  Mission for the day was a pre-game party.  Football is a huge deal back here, but sadly the Missouri team was soundly beaten.  But, there was plenty of beer (duh) and other frivolities.  Nothing like young, svelte coeds in summer attire.

Our group (L to R): Roy; Kathy Joe, Brandon, Lindsay, Jeff, Carly, Kaitlyn, Bill and Kathleen.

Smiling faces before the tragic defeat of the home team.

This little fellow was the show-stopper.

The brothers were nice enough to allow Thor to be parked right in front.  After all the beer, we spent the night right where we parked.  Next morning we broke camp and headed southeast.

We spotted a sign along the highway for the Bonne Terre Mine tour, so we decided to check it out.  Bonne Terre was one of the biggest lead mines in the country and was started back in the late 1700s by the French.  It was worked continuously until it was closed for good in the 1960s.  Above, the guide shows off some of the old artifacts from the mine.

Some drill bits and a coupling shackle.

Entrance to the mine was a set of stairs that went right into the upper level of the mine.

The interior lighting was very dim making photos hard.  But, aided by the flash the Sony A7RM2 did a pretty good job.  This mine is of "room and pillar" design with rooms of materials removed and pillars left to support the overlaying strata.  Ore was extracted up to one of the bedding planes resulting in (generally) smooth ceilings.

The stripes on the wall are accumulations of calcite from water seepage.  The tour walkways are visible in the photo above.

The mine offers both dry and wet tours.  The wet tours require scuba gear and are conducted along a set of "trails" that have illumination from the in-mine electrical system.  The bottom levels of the mine have been flooded for 50 years and there are many more wet trails than dry ones.  Above, you can see into one of the shafts and can see some equipment just under the water's surface.  The water in the mine has outstanding visibility.

The mine's predominate strata is pre-Cambrian Dolomite which also produces nice caves and flow structures.  This flow occurred after the mine was shut down.

Looking up to the ceiling 40 feet above is one of the entrances to the mine.  This entrance has been sealed off.

Another water-filled shaft that goes to the lower levels of the mine.

More flow-stone being deposited alongside one of the trails.

Flow stone coats the walls where ever there is a water seep.

This pillar was cut too small and was starting to fail, so the early 1800s miners reinforced it with steel cable and inserted wooden wedges to put the cable into tension.  The patch is still holding today.

Cobalt dissolved in the mine seepage results in the pink cast to the flow stone.  Note that the shovel is already developing a coat of calcite.

Dikes and terraces develop where a seep drips onto flat ground.

Cave popcorn grew in some of the sheltered areas.

A bit of tack used by the mule teams that serviced the mine in the early days is coated with calcite from the mineral-laden seeps.

The guide was on a mission.  The boat above had a motor failure and they decided that they would do the tour anyway by paddling the boat.

They paddled the boat into the water-covered portion of the mine.  Water depth under us was about 150 feet.

In the distance we could see sunlight.  This was one of the access shafts to the mine and was used to lower the boats into the gallery.

The conduit contained the electrical service for the mine.  The shaft has been blocked off on the surface.

The Bonne Terre tour was interesting, but a bit scary.  Old mines with dilapidated equipment is always a good way to get into trouble.  But, nothing failed (except the boat motor).

After the mine, we headed north a bit to a Missouri state park for the night.  Tomorrow, we visit our U500 friends Mark and Gail.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2017, all rights reserved.
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