Photo Credit: The_Gut

This same picture was used for the slideshow on this site's homepage.

About the Diving

Vital Information

Location Bonne Terre, MO (SSW of St. Louis).

Water Temperature 58-62° F, all year.

Visibility 100' +

Types of Diving Available

  • Cave Diving

In April we will visit a piece of American History and a wonder of geological beauty and human ingenuity. The site is Bonne Terre Mines, an abandoned mine just southwest of St. Louis, MO.

At a year-round temperature of roughly 60 degrees (F), with underwater lighting provided by the mines, a high degree of clarity (100' +), it is what one might expect from the water filtered and contained by the rocks of the mine it has reclaimed. Beneath the surface, however, the diving is quite unexpected. Columns that, at the surface, might seem short and commonplace, extend deep underwater, looming from vantage-points at the bottom like arches in a subterranean cathedral. Structures that extend a few feet above the surface reach all the way to the bottom of the chamber.

Scene from inside Bonne Terre Mine

Photo Credit: lissalou66

Everything is quiet and still. The locus of intense activity during its days as a mine, the site is now held in stasis under the water that reclaimed it years ago.

The water is a hue and shade of blue unlike any found in the ocean or a lake--this blue is deeper, stronger, and from certain angles it is something closer to steel-, or even cobalt-blue. Lit by lights mounted on the walls of the mine (500,000 Watts of Lighting for a billion-gallon lake), illuminate oxidation and seepage from submerged pipes, which create what would appear as haze-thin dust clouds in the air.

The deserted tunnels have been organized into 'trails,' which, today, guides from the mines lead divers through.

About the Site

Scene from inside Bonne Terre Mine

Photo Credit: lissalou66

Until 1961, for about 100 years, Bonne Terre was the site of the largest lead-mining operation in the world. Workers toiled long hours, daily, manually extracting the lead and carving the supporting network of tunnels that would be used to transport it to the surface. As the operation grew, other structures, such as stables (for mules that drew the mining carts), workers' quarters, and administrative facilities were constructed underground, as well.

Today, the remains of the city lie under the water that flooded the mine shortly after its closing. The man-made caverns, pillars, elevators, carts, tracks, pipes, and card-punching station all stand as they were left in 1961.

Video

The History Channel's Weird US produced an episode focusing on Bonne Terre and posted it on YouTube. Here is that episode:

Please Note that, at one point in the video, the hosts discuss with Doug Jergens that it takes an "experienced diver" to dive the mine. The cave is open to divers with PADI Open Water Diver Certification (or equivalent).

For more information on this trip (including pricing and accomodations), please contact us.

Divers entering the water from a boat