This is an abandoned mining town on the St. Francois River with shut-ins, 200 foot bluffs and scenic hiking trails. There is a 2-mile Silver Mines Trail which follows both sides of the river, leading to various picnic areas. Also a 1.2-mile trail spurs to Millstream Gardens Conservation area, where visitors can view spectacular rock formations along the river.
(12 miles east on Hwy 72)
Silver Mines offers a variety of recreational opportunities and is abundant with historic and geological wonders. This beautiful area is located along the St. Francis River, the only river in Missouri classified as “white water,” and is used for kayaking during the spring high waters. Silver Mines is located at a historic mining operation and is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks. Silver Mines Recreation Area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine”, which was mined for Silver, Tungsten and Lead. The Einstein Silver Mining Company began mining in 1877, and mining ceased completely in 1946.
The 2-mile long Silver Mines Trail follows both sides of the St. Francois River. The west section of the trail leads to the Riverside Picnic Area. The east section (1 mile) leads to the Turkey Creek Picnic Area. From there, the trail leads 1.2 miles to the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, home to the Missouri Whitewater Championship Races every spring.
Eight picnic sites are available, each offering a table and pedestal grill. A group pavilion Is also available, with 6 picnic tables, a large pedestal grill, and parking for up to 20 vehicles.
Although mostly popular with kayakers in the spring, the St. Francois River is also a popular swimming hole during the summer months. There is no acutal designated nor managed swimming area, so please enter the river at your own risk. The current can be swift at times, especially during high water. Large rocks and drop-offs are abundant in this river.
Bonne Terre Mine is listed as one of Americas top ten greatest adventures by National Geographic. Boat & walking tours available; Along this tour, you will see Huge Pillar Rooms, Grand Canyon, Billion Gallon Lake, Trout Pond, Underground Flower Gardens, Beautiful Calcite Falls, and ancient abandoned mining tools, submerged ore carts, wrapped pillars, and ancient abandoned overhead wooden cat walks suspended 50-100 feet above the lake. (On Hwy 67 in Bonne Terre)
One of the world’s largest man-made caverns, founded in 1860 as one of history’s earliest deep-earth lead mines. This was the world’s largest producer of lead ore until it was closed in 1962.
The mine has five levels. Not suitable for service animals. The two upper levels are lighted and used for one-hour, guided walking tours along the old mule trails, showing were miners dug with pick and shovel in the 1860s. (Tour includes a 65-step staircase, in and out.) The mine is a constant 65-degrees, year-round; never affected by the weather.
The lower three levels form a one billion gallon, seventeen-mile long lake, illuminated by more than 500,000 watts of stadium lighting above the water’s surface. Boat tours are available on the crystal clear water, with spectacular views of the abandoned shafts and equipment below.
The mine is home to the largest fresh water scuba diving venue in the world. (Diving reservations are required.) The clear, 58-degree water, illuminated from above, affords divers visibility more than 100 feet down. Diving is conducted in groups of nine, always accompanied by two guides.