In 1961, St. Joseph Lead Co. turned off the pumps that kept their mine dry. They sold the buildings to the state of MO which turned the area into a state park. Underground, clear, fresh water springs began seeping into the old mine. Little by little, a BILLION GALLON UNDERWATER LAKE was formed! There are 17 miles of underground shoreline, larger than the city of Bonne Terre which is above. 500,000 watts of lighting illuminate the caves both above and below the water. In fact, the water is so clear you can see 100 feet down! The air temperature is 62 degrees year round. The water temperature is 58 degrees year round. You can take a boat tour or a dive tour to see wonderful cave formations, ore carts, a steam locomotive, staircases, and other tools that were left behind when the last miner walked away. This underwater lake has become a world class fresh water dive site, named by National Geographic as one of America's top 10 Greatest Adventure (March/April 2000) In fact, it is the world’s largest freshwater dive resort. I'm not a diver, but I looked up some info for those who are:
West End Diving
11215 Natural Bridge Rd.
Bridgeton, MO 63044
Mention your interest in Bonne Terre Mines of Southeast Missouri
Interesting accommodations can be found at the 1909 Train Depot Bed and Breakfast (An actual train depot that has been converted), a local Super 8, the Red Cedar Lodge or at TimbeCreek Resort (member of RCI). Bonne Terre Mine is open year round, but in October-April only on the weekends.
Their phone # is 573-358-2148.
The price structure as of 8/03 is: Walking tour:
$6 children 11 and under
Available every day the site is open;
There are 68 steps-down and up; 1/2 mile in length; 40-45 minutes.
Boat tour (includes walking tour) $17.50
(minimum of four people)
Available on weekends. 15-20 minutes includes
walking tour. Minimum of four persons in boat.
Dive tour varies considerably See address above for details.