I awoke the morning of February 4 and looked out the window to find Mother Earth blanketed with around 5 inches of fluffy snow. I had no idea what the roads were like, but I immediately thought of the Elephant Rocks located near me in Iron County in Missouri. I knew there were some great photographs waiting to be made.
The elephant rocks consist of geological formations that were formed some 1.5 billion years ago during the Precambrian Era. Many were formed within 7 acres of the natural area located within the park. A formation that is 27 feet tall, 34 feet long, and 17 feet tall has been named Dumbo. Giant boulders formed from granite stand end- to- end and reminds one of a train of elephants.
The name for this formation is “tor”, a stack or pile of weathered residual granite rock boulders. We had freezing rain, sleet, and snow the night before and it was virtually impossible for me to climb up the boulders to get some good shots of these formations.
Granite has been quarried in the area since 1869. This granite has been used for buildings from Massachusetts to California and was used in the St. Louis City Hall, and even the piers of the Eads Bridge were made from this granite. The mining left behind a small pond.
Inside the park you will find the Braille Trail that was created for people with visual and physical disabilities. Picnic tables can be found scattered throughout the park where folks can picnic and enjoy the geological formations within the park.
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Saturday, February 5, I journeyed to the Dillard Mill State Site located in Davisville, MO. The area was snow covered and the roads going to the mill weren’t in very good shape. There were a couple of times I got a little nervous.
The mill is located along the banks of the Huzzah Creek and is one of the state’s best-preserved gristmills. The mill was completed in 1908 and most of the machinery is still in intact and original to the building. The 132-acre site, even though privately owned, has been operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 2015. The park is under a lease agreement with the L-A-D Foundation.
The first mill was built in 1853 and was known as the Wisdom Mill but unfortunately was destroyed by fire in 1895. A new mill was constructed in 1908 and was named the Mische Mill. The owners altered the course of the stream and used an underwater turbine in place of an old waterwheel. It operated until 1956. Then in 1975, when the state took over management of the site and it was given the name Dillard Mill. Restoration wasn’t completed until 1980.
The site offers its visitors opportunities to fish, hike, picnic or to revisit the past.
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You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.
The mining industry in the Southeast Missouri Lead District has been a big part of Missouri’s economy for more than 280 years.
The St Joseph Lead Company was founded on March 25, 1864. The Company bought the Bonne Terre lead mine and 950 acres in Bonne Terre, MO, in1864. By 1923 the company had 250 miles of underground railroad running under Flat River, Leadwood, Desloge, Rivermines, and Elvins, cities in Missouri.
Then in 1923, the Federal Mill No. 3 became the property of the St. Joe Lead Company and with improvements they made it into the largest mill in the world. St, Joe kept it operational until 1972. In 1975 the company donated the complex and surrounding property to the state of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources took possession in 1976 and named it St. Joe State Park and in 1980 it was designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.
Inside the mines old powerhouse is a museum and you can see the Midwest’s finest mineral collections. There is information about the history of the area’s lead mining and actual machinery that was used in the mine is on display.
There is off road vehicle trails in the park and features four lakes, two swimming beaches, equestrian trails, hiking and bicycling trails, water trail and picnic sites. There are also two campgrounds capable of accommodating campers with ORV or horse trailers.
I headed to Millstream Gardens in Madison County about half way between Fredericktown and Arcadia, Missouri. It is connected to Silver Mines Conservation Area via a trail that runs along the St. Francis River. It’s part of the Mark Twain National Forest. I was to meet a friend and his daughter. We met up around noon. They have a paved trail accessible by wheelchair that goes a mile down the trail to a scenic overlook.
We had a perfect day for a hike. We headed out down the trail. It is an easy hike to the overlook named Cats Paw. Not sure how it got its name but it didn’t disappoint as you an see by the photo below.
We decided to take a trail down to the river. Now this part would be considered hard. Steep and rocky and we had to climb over rocks but it was certainly worth the effort. The scenery was breathtaking. Mother Nature’s beauty at her finest. When they have the kayak races here in the spring the water is usually up quite a bit from the spring rains. I stood there trying to envision the kayakers trying to maneuver their yaks through this swift water around the big boulders that littered the river bed. I think I will lave that up to the professionals.
We didn’t want to leave. It was so peaceful sitting there on the rocks listening to the water rushing past the boulders. We reluctantly started our way back to the parking lot and our vehicles. It is a damn good day when you can share an experience like this with friends. It was a grand day.
Following are a few of the 127 pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them and can feel what we felt being there beside the river. We will definitely be going back for sure. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked to the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” – Dodinsky
The temp today was supposed to be in the 60s today and if it wasn’t it was close. I was to meet a high school friend and we were going to kick back and enjoy an autumn day. We met up around 10 a.m. both of us needing a “do nothing” day. Silver Mines is the kind of place where one can do that. It offers so much in the way of nature that it is impossible for someone who loves nature to leave without their spirit fully charged.
We had just camped here the week before. We got a lot of rain Sunday night and the river level had came up. The water is usually very clear but today it was stained. The leaves were starting to change to their autumn colors. By this weekend I think they are going to be in their full autumn colors.
There are so many things you can do. Kayaking, fishing, hiking and camping. Daily picnic sites are available. The trails on both sides of the river are rocky and rough. I would rate them as hard. You can make a loop but you have to cross the damn to do so. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends so I limit my visits to the week days where you are pretty much by yourself. Flash floods can be a problem in the spring.
We headed home around 3:30. On the way out I saw the camp ground hosts. They told me the powers that may be notified them that they were going to close the gates November 7 for winter. They have already turned the water off so if you camp in this last week be sure to bring some water with you.
On October 18, a good friend of mine met me at the Silver Mines Conservation Area. This area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine” where in 1870 was used to mine silver, tungsten and lead up until 1946 when the mine was closed. The area is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks.
After a brief visit we began setting up camp. I had brought my Bushnell one man tent and Clarry opted for a hammock and tarp. I was amazed with the hammock setup. Clarry had it down to a science. When he was done setting up it looked very inviting. It was only his third time at setting it up. The temps got down into the upper 30s and he discovered some things he would do differently the next time.
After breakfast we decided down the dam on the St Francis river. It was built when they were mining the area. The trail actually goes across the dam to get to the other side of the trail and we thought about trying it but we were going to have to wade to do it and we decided against it.
We talked to another camper who had done it and he told us about two graves on the other side marked by two wooden crosses and the mine entrance was on the other side too but it had been closed off. The trail was pretty rocky and in places you had to climb over big rocks and because of my ankle not being fully healed we didn’t walk the entire trail and headed back to camp. When back at camp we sat around the campfire talking and we had a surprise visitor.
It was a great time. Trees were just starting to color and in another week should be in full color. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We did meet a gentleman there who came all the way from Chicago to a camp a couple of days. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It would be hard not to feel at peace with yourself while you were here. If you are looking for a place to camp where you can enjoy nature I highly recommend Silver Mines. It is located near Fredericktown, MO off highway D. In the spring when the river level is up they have kayak races.
It was another hot day in Southeast Missouri. I had the evening off so I decided to head out to the Bismark Conservation area.
The area is made up of 1,188 acres that surrounds the 220 acre lake, DiSalvo. It is the headwaters of the St Francis River. There are good numbers of bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.
This particular day I went chasing channel catfish. It is hot and the humidity was punishing, two ingredients of pop up thunderstorms. It sprinkled on me a couple of times. There was a thunderstorm skirting to the south. Lightning and thunder.
Mother Nature was presenting me with one spectacular show. I watched intently. The wind picked up and I enjoyed feeling it upon my face. So relaxing.
The fish weren’t cooperating. They had very little interest in the bait I was using, shrimp, hotdogs and night crawlers. At dark the bullhead catfish started to show interest in the shrimp. I ended up catching 3 bullheads before I had to give in and call it a night.
It turned out to be a great evening and it was much needed. Mother Nature was spectacular and gave me some great shots and I had it all to myself.
My childhood friend Mark had contacted me about doing some fishing. His sister-in-law had given us permission to fish her private lake.
We agreed on meeting at 8 a.m.. Unfortunately the weather man was forecasting a very hot day. Believe it or not he actually got it right. The heat forced us to give it up by 11 a.m..
Fortunately in that 3 hours the bass and panfish did a great job of keeping us busy. We opted on our fly fishing gear and it was a good choice I thought. We managed to catch several nice size pan fish and a few small bass.
I chose a yellow popper and Mark chose a popper like fly I believe he called “perch assassin”. The fish liked them both. Now if you have never fly fished before I am here to tell you that even a small fish feels like you hung Moby Dick.
All in all it was a good morning even with the heat. Good company, peace and quiet and a lot of action. We are already planning another fishing adventure. Maybe some all night catfishing.
“Without the intense touch of nature, you can never fully freshen yourself! Go for a camping and there both your weary mind and your exhausted body will rise like a morning sun! – Mehmet Murat ildan
Two popular methods of camping are Glamping Camping and Tent camping. Glamping camping, also known as glamorous camping, involves camping with the luxuries of a home or hotel ie RV. Tent camping is a primitive form enjoyed by those who want to get closer to nature.
RVs are loaded with the amenities of home. AC, satellite tv, electricity, running water, bathroom and shower. One can get almost anything they want in a RV to meet their desires.
Tents on the other hand just provide one a place to sleep and shelter from inclement weather. There are many types of tents to choose from and come in several sizes. Some are for warm weather camping and there are four season tents that can be used all year. Mats and air mattresses can make sleeping on the ground more comfortable. They can be pitched almost anywhere.
The camper has to choose whatever method fits their desires. Personally I like to keep it as simple and primitive as possible. At the ripe old age of 66 I prefer tent camping. I feel closer to nature and when camping I don’t want any distractions from outside luxuries. I cook on a campfire using cast iron Dutch Oven and skillets like the pioneers carried on their wagons for cooking. I also make Cowboy coffee.
I have a one man tent that I use on float trips, back packing and short camp outs. I have a three man tent I like to use for week long campouts and a hammock with a net and rain fly. I haven’t got a chance to try it out so the verdict is still out as to whether it will work for camping.
Camping is one of those activities you either love or hate. If you love it there are a multitude of places you can camp. State Parks, National Parks, private campgrounds and gravel bars on the river. Both methods of camping have their pros and cons you just have to decide which one is right for you. Happy Camping!!