National Geographic calls Bonne Terre Mine: “One of America’s Top 10 Greatest Adventures.”
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.
Located one hour south of St. Louis, off Route 67.