Sometimes I just get the urge the head off the beaten path and experience something that is a little harder to find and that doesn’t offer the convenience of being along or near the main highways. Doing so will allow you to discover some hidden gems. The roads may be bumpier and narrower, but most of the time it’ll be worth the effort.
Being that it was just me and the tour guide, I felt like I was able to experience the mine without any distractions. It was both eery and fascinating at the same time.
As I made my way westward through the mid-western state of Missouri I decided to check online for attractions in the area that I was in after passing through St. Louis. On the web, I found the Bonne Terre Mine – a national historical site. It is a lead mine that was built in 1864 and closed down in 1962. It’s located beneath the small city of Bonne Terre. It is best known for the underwater (dark and flooded) parts of the mine that make up the “world’s largest freshwater dive resort”. Lit with 500,000 watts of lighting and 24 underwater trails, the dive experience must be amazing for those who dive there. I wouldn’t be one of them. I stayed above water and did the walking and boat tour.
I headed there one morning. It was a weekday in the fall. The tour guide was just finishing up a tour with a few people when I arrived. It was quiet at that time, so I ended up being the only one on the next tour. Being that it was just me and the tour guide, I felt like I was able to experience the mine without any distractions. It was both eery and fascinating at the same time. The mine is several stories deep with most of it flooded. It is dark and cold in the subterranean layers. The tour guide takes you back into history when it was an active mine giving you a picture in your mind of how it was with hundreds of men working the mine.
At the end of the tour, I also got to meet the two little miracle fish (Bonnie and Terry) that live in the underground lake. Apparently, the conditions of the water are not conducive to sustaining life for fish but both of these fish seem to be defying the challenges of life there. Goes to show that if there’s a will there’s a way.
So venture off the beaten path when you have a chance to and experience what many may be missing whether it’s this mine or something else just as eye-opening and interesting. •
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