Trick or Treat

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Pic I took at the old St. Joe lead mine.  Haunted?

Some believe that Halloween originated from ancient harvest festivals such as the Gaelic festival Samhain and may have had pagan roots.  Then there are some that think it began as a Christian holiday.  Throughout Ireland and Britain, festivities consisted of rituals and games intended to foretell one’s future.

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Special bonfires were lit because their flames, smoke, and ashes were thought to have protective and cleansing powers.  In Wales bonfires were lit to prevent the souls of the dead from falling to earth and later they were used to keep the devil away.  In Scotland, elders in some parishes banned bonfires.

Halloween is a favorite of mine.  Haunted hayride, chili, bonfire and good friends makes for a good time.  In the country Halloween was a good time of year to go “outhouse tipping”.   Then there is that dreaded fear of waking up and finding your house and trees covered in toilet paper.  Sometimes windows got “soaped” if you didn’t hand out candy.  I remember getting a lot of home made treats like popcorn balls but some very sick individual came up with the idea of putting razor blades in them.

In the 50s and 60s when I went “trick or treating” things were so much different than it is today.  One thing it was much safer.  We didn’t worry about razor blades in our candy.  I can remember getting apples and those Rice Krispie/marshmallow treats.  You always remembered the houses that passed out the good candy like Reeses Peanut Cups.  It wasn’t all store bought costumes either.  A lot of folks made costumes for their little goblins.

I don’t remember what year the first razor blades showed up but it changed the way one went “trick or treating” and it was necessary to start checking all ones goodies.  I may be dreaming it but I thought there was one time that a hospital offered to x-ray candy for folks and it was free!  It was a sad day in “goblinville” when some fool had to mess with Halloween.  That my friends is the rest of the story.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, it is deeply appreciated.  Wishing you a happy Halloween and may your “treat bag” be filled to the brim.  Be safe and be sure to spread the love.

 

 

 

 

Let Us Not Bury the Past

 

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In Memory of

Thomas Robert Burnette

January 31, 1915 – November 14, 1992

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“Mining is a dangerous profession.  There’s no way to make a mine completely safe: These are the words owners have always used to excuse needless deaths and the words miners use to prepare for them.” – Tawni O’Dell

Mr Burnette was a resident of Flat River, MO and he worked in the lead mines.  He worked at the St. Joe Lead Number 9 mine in  Farmington, MO and at the Pea Ridge Mine. He dug ore for nearly 30 years.  When he worked in the mines they didn’t do blood tests to check for lead poisoning.   During his time in the mines he cut a finger off and got caught between two ore cars and suffered a broken hip that had to be pinned.  After he healed up, back in the mines he went and worked there until he suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire at the age of fifty-eight.  His daughter remembered seeing his checks and said he cleared fifty dollars a week.  He was married and reared five children.  He is just one of many who worked in the mines and his family is just one of many that have all the memories of their families working in the mines.

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The Old Lead Belt is located deep within the eastern Ozarks of Missouri.  The Southeast Missouri lead district is a major part of the lead belt and has been a major player in Missouri’s economic and social fabric for more than 280 years.  In early 1700 a European by the name of Pierre Charles LeSeur led the first mineralogical expedition into the Mississippi Valley.  Missouri’s ore deposits have made it the nation’s major source of ore for over 90 years.  The abundant ore deposits brought thousands of workers to Missouri, where over the years they created 1,000 miles of abandoned multilevel mine tunnels,  300 miles of underground mainline railroad tracks and a legacy of 108 years of mining operations in the area.

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Drum roll……………., I am stepping onto my soap box.  Here is my beef.  In 1923 St. Joe Lead CO. purchased the Federal Mill No. 3 lead-concentrating complex.  They all ready owned nearly 950 acres in Bonne Terre that was bought in 1864.  In late 1975 they donated the Federal mine mill complex and its adjoining lands to Missouri for the purpose of creating a state park.  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources took possession of the 8,244 acre tract in 1976 and named it St. Joe Park and in 1980 the 25 acre mine mill was designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.

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I just visited the site along with Mr Burnette’s daughter and step son.  I am appalled by the way the state is letting the old mill fall into ruination.  I know money is tight but they could do more.  This site holds a lot of memories for the miner families in Bonne Terre, Desloge, Park Hills and the surrounding areas.  People died in these mines. Why let it die off?  This could be an amazing tourist attraction for these towns.  This site has so many possibilities.  There is so much history here.  PLEASE don’t let it fall down and disappear into the past.

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The 16,00 square-foot mine-mill powerhouse is being developed into a large museum providing information and the history of the mining business in Missouri with displays and old mining machinery and a huge collection of minerals.  It is a start but the site has the potential for so much more.

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In 1981 Doug and Cathy Georgens bought the rights to the Bonne Terre Mine and invested their money in the mine and have built it into a diving mecca.  They have daily tours also.  I have took the tour myself and it is fascinating.  The state of Missouri could save the history of mines in St. Joe and should do just that.  I urge them to set up a fund that people can give to the mine exclusively.  I also urge them to start funding the mine and start rehabbing the buildings.  Please for the sake of those that worked in and died in the mines save the mine.

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In closing I ask for anyone’s help in saving this mine.  Please write your representatives and if you haven’t, take the tour.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Help save the history of Missouri’s mines.

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Big River, The River of My Choice.

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?  That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”  – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I have had some people ask me what it is that attracts me so much to Big River so for this blog I thought I would share why this river has mesmerized me with its beauty and mystique I cherish so much.

Big River begins near the summit of Johnson Mountain near the ghost town of Enough. It flows through the Missouri counties of Washington, Saint Francois and Jefferson then it empties into the Meramec River near Eureka, MO.  It flows through Washington State Park, St. Francois State Park and through the Lead Belt mining district.  It meanders 145 miles through the Missouri countryside.  Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, longear sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish and red horse suckers are some of the fish that can be found in the Big River.

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Big River above Leadwood Access

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Big River

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the river words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.” – Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

I seem to always be drawn to big the Lead Belt area of the Big River.  The 108 years of mining in that area took a toll on the Big River in the form of contamination by lead. There is a contamination warning on certain kinds of fish caught in the Big River.  There are pipes that go into the old mines that are still in the river.  I am not sure what they were used for.   I was told that they were old test holes, used to pump water out of the mines and numerous other things but do not know for a fact what exactly they were used for.

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Big River

I spend a lot of time camped out at night in this area.  It seems to hold so much mystery within the banks of the river.  Sometimes there seems to be a presence with me as I go about my night of running limb lines and sitting by the camp fire.  Not an evil presence but like another presence in another dimension.  Sometimes when I am running limb lines and the fog is lifting it looks like spirits rising from the mines out of the water on their way to somewhere else.  Some nights it even makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Oddly enough it is a pleasant feeling.  At times I have even thought that maybe they are wanting to share their secrets with me.  Maybe it is the past inhabitants of the ghost town Enough wanting to converse with me.  The mystery stirs my soul deep inside hoping that one day they will share those secrets with me.  One night while I was sitting by the fire I smelled cigarette smoke like someone was sitting right next to me smoking a cigarette.  Am I crazy?  Maybe, maybe not.

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A couple other things that attract me to the Big River is the beautiful scenery and last but not least the fishing.  My photos will never do the beauty of the river justice.  The tall bluffs and rock formations and the lined banks of beautiful trees make the Big River a great place to float and enjoy life. If the river could talk I wonder what it would say.  Would it tell me about the people that came before me, tell me about how it was before they started mining.  Oh the things it could share with me.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog.  I hope you find it interesting.  Maybe some night you will get to camp along the banks of the Big River and you can tell me if I am crazy or not. Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.