Bonne Terre Scuba Diving

Bonne Terre Mine, named after the town Bonne Terre (French for good earth), is a former lead mine. The mine is shaped like a giant cone with five levels, all built using the room and pillar method, where pillars of unexcavated rock are left to support the ceiling. The upper level extends more than 200 km², the lower levels are narrowing slightly.

At the turn of the century this mine was the worlds foremost producer of lead. Today it is billed as the world's largest underground artificial lake. A drop in the lead price and the geologic evidence that the richest lead had been mined, lead to closure in 1961. The pumps were turned off and the mine filled with water. Its potencial was discovered by Doug and Cathy Goergens, owners of West End Diving in Bridgeton. They purchased the mine and developed IT for scuba diving tours.

The mine has five levels. The lowest three are flooded completely, the uppermost is dry, and the secon level is partly submerged. The water is extremely clear, sight lines often extend 50m, lit by floodlights with 500,000 Watts. The floor of this underground lake is sometimes covered by abandoned mining equipment, there is even a 15m long mine locomotive. The water level is 50m below downtown Bonne terre, but the floor is at the former mine shafts still 85m deeper.

But visitors do not have to be divers to see the mine. There are also walking tours of the upper level and boat tours on the lake. The walking tours go along the Old Mule Trail showing minijng techniques of the 17th century. The boat is a pontoon which has been lowered nose-first through the only opening.


Useful Information

Location: In Bonne Terre, 85 N. Allen St.. From Saint Louis, MO, I-55 South 50km, exit 174B to US-67 South. 37km MO-K/MO-47 West. 1.1km to fence with signs visible on left. (37°55'20.87"N, 90°33'2.10"W)
Open: Walking tour: OCT to APR daily 10-16, MAY to SEP Fri, Sat, Sun 10-16.
Walking + boat tour: All year Sat, Sun 10-16.
Fee: Walking tour: Adults USD 12.50, Children (0-11) USD 6.
Walking + boat tour: Adults USD 17.50, Children (0-11) USD 17.50.
Classification: lead mine; lower levels filled with water
Light: electric.
Dimension: HD=60m, T=17°C
Guided tours: D=60min, ST=69, V=15,000/a.
Address: Bonne Terre Mine, 651 E. Oak, Bonne Terre, MO 63628, Tel: +1-573-358-2148 or +1-314-731-5003, Free: 888-843-3483.
West End Diving Centers, 12464 Natural Bridge Rd., Bridgeton, MO 63044, Tel: +1-314-209-7200, Free: 888-843-3483. E-mail: contact
Last update: $Date: 2008/07/01 20:31:24 $


1864 earliest shaft was dug.
1869 St. Joseph Mining Co. sunk the first shaft.
1961 "mined out" and closed.
1980 purchased by Doug and Cathy Goergens, owners of West End Diving in Bridgeton.
1981 developed for scuba diving tours.




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