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Monday, October 8, 2018

Resting on Route 66 and Lead Mines

Heading east on I-40, we stopped at a rest area near mile marker 111 outside of Conway, MO.  The whole rest area surprised us with a Route 66 theme extending all the way to the floor tiles.
Inside, memorabilia was mixed with current brochures. Love the gas price on this old pump. I'm not old enough to have ever seen a price without a 9/10ths on the end.
Outside, the picnic tables were shaded by structures resembling stores and stops along the Missouri stretch of this iconic highway. Kids are sure to enjoy walking down the "highway" and visiting all the stores.
Beth is good at picking parks along the way where we can pull in and make lunch. Today's stop was Schuman Park in Rolla, MO.

Never knowing what we'll find in public parks, this time we met a student carrying a drone around the field near our van.

He, and a professor, were testing their ability to track the drone using this movable antenna in their "mobile flight unit" trailer.
Beth picked this park as a treat for me. Not obvious from the parking lot, there was a 2-8-4 Frisco steam engine and passenger car preserved under an awning in the park.
Retired to this site in 1955, the static display still illustrates the complexity of pistons and connecting rods that make steam engines so fascinating.
Our next to the last stop for the day was at Missouri Mines State Historic Park. We were the only vehicle in the parking lot of this spooky looking mine complex.

Finding the entrance open, we proceeded to follow the signs beyond the protective fencing.
Abandoned water towers, chemical tanks and mine shafts contrasted with blue skies and puffy white clouds.
The main mine lift would be a good set for a post apocalyptic movie. We still hadn't seen anyone else here.
Following the signs to the Powerhouse, we finally met a ranger who invited us to watch a 1950's documentary about the mine when it was in full production. The movie was shown in the old locker and shower room where miners rinsed off after their shifts underground. We learned this was one of many lead mines in this area of Missouri.
After the movie, we toured the museum proper. This 15 ton electric locomotive was used from 1920 up until the mine closed in 1972. Behind it is a similar locomotive, built to go beyond where the overhead wire ended. Carrying spools with up to 1000 feet of extension cable powering the two 275 volt dc electric motors.
Someone made a very detailed cut-away model of the mine complex in HO scale.
Mules like "Old Bud" worked the mines longer than I expected, up until about 1950.
One ton ore cars were used throughout the mines. Miners were expected to load twenty-one of these cars per shift – moving 42,000 pounds of lead laden rock per day.
Loading machinery became less labor intensive with the invention of electric and air powered loaders like this yellow tractor.

Minerals were featured in another section of the powerhouse. Quite a collection kept Beth occupied while I looked at the old mining equipment. The $4 admission fee was very worthwhile.
Much of the mine is not accessible to the public due to safety concerns. The safety building is a good illustration of why. Hopefully, more of this fascinating historic site can be restored so people can see better appreciate what life was like for the miners.
Linked to the historic site, St Joe State Park provided a good place for overnight camping. Site 46 was spacious and level. We appreciate the low $13 camping fee in a delightful park.
Restrooms were clean and there was plenty of hot water for showers. I had to laugh at the warning sign above the shower head.  Apparently it is unsafe to shower alone here.
Not just people get showers at this state park. The old mine tailings area has been repurposed as an off road vehicle playground with miles of trails. Washers like this are available in several areas for cleaning vehicles after off road adventures. Add in two beaches, hiking, bicycle and equestrian trails and this must be a busy place when school isn't in session.

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