Road Trip: Missouri Mines State Historic Site

There was a time when lead was a bit of a “wonder metal.” And conveniently for the economy of St. Louis throughout its history, southeast Missouri has been the epicenter of world lead mining. I ventured over to the old St. Joseph Mine in Park Hills and visited the Missouri State Mines Historic Site to explore the ruins, abandoned since 1972 according to a former employee working as a volunteer at the site.

Above, I took this picture looking into one of the engine rooms of the mine; perhaps this is where the giant pumps that kept the mine from flooding were kept.

Unfortunately, the docents weren’t giving tours the day I was there, so I looked around the site myself. I have actually been down in a 300 hundred year old silver mine in Germany, so it was interesting to see the differences in the above ground facilities between the two countries. Below is the I imagine the superstructure of the elevator that brought ore up out of the earth.

The state of Missouri is slowly restoring each of the buildings and considering how big the place is, it will be quite some time before the entire site is open to the public. It’s amazing to see how far buildings can deteriorate in just thirty years.

Images from the vault, added in October of 2019:

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