"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Missouri High Point, An Old Abbey & Learning about Lead

Farmington, Missouri
St. Joe State Park

I'm going a little out of order here, but I wanted to acknowledge the passing of my Father-in-Law, Charles.  While this blogpost is about our time in Missouri in October, Steve's Dad passed away last week, November 9.  He had been dealing with health issues the past several years, but things started to get very challenging this year.  We were thankful that we were able to be with him in Arizona for a couple of weeks before his death.  All of us, including a younger brother, were with him as he passed away quickly and in no pain.
The last picture of Steve and his Dad enjoying one of his favorite things, a McDonald's Frappe.
Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri at 1,772 feet.  It's more of a ridge top than a mountain peak and sits in the Ozarks.
It's another drive-up high point that is ADA accessible.  We took our pictures and headed off to a 3 mile hike to Mina Sauk Falls.  We almost backed out as the horse flies were huge and relentless.  Even with our strong DEET, they just laughed.  It didn't help that it was also very hot and humid.
The trail was nice enough but the view was pretty lacking.  It was an easy hike for the most part.  There are some steeper sections though to keep it interesting.  The falls are 132 feet if you're lucky enough to be there in the wetter months.  We were not, but that's ok.  We were happy just to see the puddles and the nicer views.

Here is a story of how the falls were named:
Long before the white man came here, this land of flowers, now called the Arcadia Valley, was the hunting grounds of the Piankashaw Indians.  The Piankashaws had a famous chieftain, Sauk-Ton-Qua.  Because the name was hard for the white man to pronounce, he was later call Taum Sauk. Taum Sauk was wise and although the Piankashaws were not as large a tribe as the Cherokees or Osages, he was able to hold his territory against their invasions.  The Piankashaws lived in comparative peace in and around the Arcadia Valley, where they hunted and fished and raised a little corn in the summertime.  In the winter they would move to the limestone bluff shelters along the Mississippi river and stay there until warm weather.

Taum Sauk's beautiful daughter, Mina Sauk, was greatly desired by all the young warriors in the tribe.  However, Mina Sauk met a young Osage warrior in the woods and lost her heart to him.
For a long time he wooed her secretly, but one day she was discovered in the arms of the young Osage.  The young warrior was captured and taken before the chieftain.  He was tried and condemned to death.
He was executed on the slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain, where a great porphyry outcrop forms an escarpment overlooking Taum Sauk creek and facing Wildcat mountain. The young warrior was tossed from the parapet down a succession of benches on the mountainside, thrown from bench to bench with the spears of warriors.  He fell bleeding and dying in the valley below.
She begged to spare him, but in spite of her pleading, the sentence was carried out. The maiden, crazed by her grief, broke from the clutches of the old women and ran to the edge of the precipice. She uttered screams dreadful to hear and warriors shrank from her fury. From the precipice she sprang and fell, a mangled corpse, beside her murdered mate in the ravine far below.
Then over the mountain came the Storm King. Fiercely came the wind and the mountain shook with the wrath of Manitou. The storm came quickly, raged fiercely and passed suddenly. But in its path was desolation and the people of Sauk-ton-qua had been destroyed. Where the bolt of Manitou had struck the mountain a stream of water gushed forth, flowing over the precipice into the valley below. And on either side of the cascade, flowers of blood-red hue were growing.
The rocky outcropping.
Looking over the falls that are just puddles right now.

We rested for a bit and also did a geocache that was up here.
Views on the way back.
We couldn't wait to get back to the truck.  The flies were unbearable.  We wanted to do more hikes but gave up on that idea.  They actually swarmed over the truck when you got inside.  No kidding, they were the size of a quarter!
Funny story --  On our drives through these little towns we came to an intersection to turn right.  There was an old dog just standing in the middle of the 2 lane intersection.  Steve pulled over to see if he was ok and/or to shoo him out of the road.  Three cars that drove by called out to Steve to just ignore him.  He lives nearby and always does this.  The town folk feed him snacks as they drive by!

Entrance to The Abbey
On the way back Steve was looking forward to eating some BBQ at a little spot we saw on the way to the hike.  Bummer.  It was closed.  Just down the road though we found an amazing place to eat called The Abbey.
It was founded in 1847 as Arcadia College.  It served as a local private high school until the Civil War.  During the war it was used as a hospital for the North.  After the war it was in terrible shape and sold to the Ursuline Catholic Sisters in 1877.  They spent the next 100 years turning it into a beautiful campus.  The last graduating class was in 1971 then it was turned into a convent until 1992.  A private investor bought it and then a family took it over in 1999 and they are currently restoring it.

The Church
The grounds are beautiful to walk through.  We spent about an hour just walking around.

The Cemetery.  Many of the nuns are buried here.
The Bed & Breakfast area, Restaurant, Creamery & Bakery
I know it looks more like a factory, but I could not back up enough to get a picture of the entire building.  It is very pretty.  They use fresh, basic ingredients only and the food is delicious!!  The prices seemed way too cheap for the food you received.  Inside of this building, which used to be the old gymnasium, are many tables.  It looks more like a school cafeteria, nothing fancy but with fresh flowers on each table.  It's the old pictures hanging all around and the history that make this place so special.  They do give tours but we were too late for that and our last couple of days we had other plans.  Perhaps another time.  I'd definitely come back here just to eat and take the tour.
We found Hurley a Pirate Costume for Halloween.  He wasn't buying into it.
It had a cute hoody too!
Take it off Gramma!

Most people probably don't know this area was known for lead processing since 1720 unless you are from here.  This area is known as the Old Lead Belt.  The Missouri Mines Historic Site is a processing plant at the former St. Joe Lead Company.  The mine’s former powerhouse has been turned into the  museum.  There are more than 1,000 miles of abandoned multilevel mine tunnels that underlie the region and 300 miles of underground mainline railroad tracks that connected various shafts and mills.  That fascinated me.  That's a whole lot of area down below.  We were told it doesn't cave in because it fills with water when not pumped out.  There weren't many others here during the week.  We had a great tour guide, Art, all to ourselves.
Pierre Charles LeSeur led the first European mineralogical expedition into the Mississippi Valley in early 1700. Two decades later, word came of a "shiny gray mineral… that was everywhere, often lying on the surface of the ground." These early explorers discovered that blanket like lodes of galena, many feet thick, lay just below the earth's surface. This plentiful mineral is the primary lead ore still mined today in Missouri.
During World War I lead was used extensively to produce ammunition and lead-acid batteries. The largest use of lead today is still in lead-acid batteries.  The ore is crushed and only 3 - 5% then goes to smelting which heats and melts the Galina ore into lead. The contamination was widespread and soon killed off the entire smelting process.  Now everything is shipped overseas where they have no EPA and no controls.  They’re not worried about their environment or anything else, so the United States ships their ore over there, lets them smelt it and take all the hazards. And then we buy it back. Sounds wrong doesn't it?  Chat piles (left over crushed ore not able to be smelted) are everywhere.  You can still see them.

Art showing us the 1 Ton Ore Car
Eimco Shovel

The Sullivan Shovel

The St. Joe Shovel

There was a nice movie on the history of the area and the mines.
There were a lot of rock and minerals to see too.  There were the usual that we see everywhere and a few I've never seen or noticed before. 
The black light brings out fluorescent colors on some of them.

The Fluorite was my favorite.  It is usually found in cube or octahedron shape (I had to look that last one up!) and comes in many colors. Often it is fluorescent.

We really had a great time learning all about lead and its importance to the area.  Only $4 entry fee.  We spent a couple of hours here.
Saw this oldie at the spotless Gulf gas station.
Next Up:
Brand new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium is inside the Bass Pro Shop in  Springfield, Missouri.  It has an unbelievable 350,000 sq ft with over 1.5 miles of immersive galleries that take you into the natural habitats of the animal kingdom. Get up close and personal with big game and other mammals in the Wildlife Galleries, and dive into the ocean world in the Aquarium Adventure. WOW!  You won't want to miss it!


  1. Replies
    1. It's beautiful but looks really creepy/scary too inside! Amazing job for just a family to do.

  2. You find some interesting places. It is tough to see your parents age. You always have this image of them as indestructable. My father is 93 and Lisa's grandfather is 100. So we have definately seen a decline over the years. Time heals everything.

    1. Yes, we've found some fun places along the way. I know you've gone through this recently. Seems like a lot of us are. Comes with (us all) getting older. 93 & 100 WOW!

  3. Sorry to hear about Steve's dad. We have been in several places where the horse and deer flies were that bad. If is everything you can do just to get back into the vehicle and watch them hit the windows!

    1. Thanks. That was the worst (and biggest) horseflies we've come across! I wish I had my bug zapper racket with me on the trail!

  4. So good that you could be there with Steve's dad. Our deepest condolences, Deb.

    Love that Abby! It reminds me a lot of the convent my aunt is at in Indiana! 😊

  5. Deb and Steve, I jumped over to your blog for a quick check having learned about your group being at the Q. For some reason, I had not been receiving notices when you posted new content.

    So sorry for yours and Steve loss of his father. When we start losing our parents we become part of another club. Children without parents. Hard to explain the emotions of it but you know what I mean.


    1. We had a great time, as usual, in Q. Ya, know what you mean. Thank you.


I’d love to hear from you! It’s more fun when you leave a comment!