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Crawford County, Missouri
History
Natural Features

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NATURAL FEATURES.

 

Area, etc.—Crawford County is situated in the east-central part of Missouri. It is bounded on the north by Gasconade and Franklin Counties; on the east by Washington and Iron Counties; on the south by Reynolds and Dent Counties, and on the west by Dent, Phelps and Gasconade Counties. It is thirty-three miles in extreme length north and south, and its greatest width is twenty-four miles. Its area is 711 square miles, or 455,040 acres.

 

Topography.—The surface of the county is considerably varied. A range of hills extends in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction across the north end of the county to the northwest of and nearly parallel with the Meramec River, and another range extends south from the Meramec to the south end of the county, east of Steelville. The former ridge is traversed by the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, the elevations along which above the level of the sea are as follows: Bourbon Station, 932 feet; Leasburg, 1,030 feet; Cuba Junction, 1,025; Cuba Station, 1,034 feet; Knob View, 1,070 feet. The highest point along the railroad in this county is three-fourths of a mile east of Knob View, 1,133 feet above the sea, and the lowest point is one mile east of Bourbon, 909 feet above the sea. Along the St. Louis, Salem & Little Rock Railroad the elevations are: At Cuba Junction, as given above, 1,025 feet; at Halbert's, six miles south, 720 feet; at Midland, 723 feet; at Sankey, 738 feet; at Steelville, 759 feet; at Roswell, 853 feet; at Highway, 1,020 feet; at Keysville, 904 feet; at Canal, 876 feet; at Boaz, 874 feet; at Sligo, 894, and at Cook's Station, 900 feet.

 

Streams.—The watercourses in Crawford County are both numerous and important. The largest stream is the Meramec, which enters the county from Phelps on the west, just north of the township line between Townships 37 and 38, and follows a general northeastward course until it reaches the northeast corner of the county, where it enters Franklin. Its extreme length in Crawford County is about sixty miles. The subordinate streams are Crooked Creek, Dry Creek, Courtois, Huzzah, Brazil and Brush Creeks. These are all streams of clear water, flowing through rich valleys, and are capable of supplying water power sufficient to run a large number of manufacturing establishments. There are water falls that could be utilized at Wilson's mill, at Barney's mill, all along Crooked Creek, and at many places on the Meramec. At Green's mill and below the Berry farm are locations suitable for woolen factories. At the Wisdom mill is another fine location, and along Brush Creek, and the Huzzah and other streams are excellent points where Nature's power is going to waste for want of the proper enterprise and civilization to harness them to the needs of man.

 

Soil, etc.—The soil of this county along the streams and in the lowlands generally is fertile and productive, but on the higher elevations it is frequently thin and poor. The valleys are well adapted to the usual growth of corn and the cereals, while the uplands are well suited to the growth of fruit. On some of these uplands the timber is small and short, like that described in the southeast part of Franklin County; but there is an abundance of good timber and good timber land in Crawford County. In the vicinity of most of the places indicated above as furnishing fine water power there is an abundance of oak timber that could be manufactured into furniture and agricultural implements. Besides oak the timber lands supply walnut, cherry, beech, birch, ash, maple (both hard and soft), hickory, locust, linden, cedar, Cottonwood, chestnut, gum, cypress, sycamore and other valuable varieties. The wild grape is especially abundant in this county, indicating the superior adaptability of the climate to the culture of the vine; and also indicating that the manufacture of wine could be made especially profitable in this county. The richest upland regions are those where grow in greatest profusion the blackberry, honey locust, wild cherry and chestnut. Lands not so valuable are those producing the black walnut, elm, red-bud and blue ash.

 

Fishing Spring.—One of the most remarkable natural curiosities in this county, and perhaps in the State, is what is known as Fishing Spring, situated two miles north of Steelville. At the mouth of a large cavern on the Meramec River an immense spring discharges its waters into a basin some fifteen or twenty feet in diameter, near the bed of the river. The water is thrown up through three apertures in the bottom of the spring. What is peculiar about this spring is, as its name indicates, its abounding in fish which belong to the perch family. To be successful the fisherman drops his line, heavily weighted, down into the spring and through one of the apertures mentioned above (which are not more than three or four inches across) some eight or nine feet into depths which have, for obvious reasons, never been explored except by fish. From out of the depths of this subterranean cavern or lake the fisherman draws forth the fish, if they bite. On some days not a single fish can be obtained, on others hundreds are caught by those who are expert. The fish weigh about half a pound each. Tons of fish have been carried away from this spring, and the supply is apparently inexhaustible. It is altogether probable that an immense subterranean lake extends beneath the adjoining bluff.

 

Minerals.—Crawford County is especially rich in minerals. It is a common saying that "every hill in Crawford County contains some kind of mineral." Iron ore is the staple mineral of the county. The ore is found in " banks " not " mines." The peculiar formation is in part at least explained by the term. The ores are heaped up or banked up in various shapes and sizes. There are no veins. The banks sometimes project a little above the surface, and a great deal of ore has been picked up on top of the ground. Usually, however, the process is to strip off a few feet of earth and rock, and then take the ore out of a kind of crater. This is well illustrated at the Cherry Valley bank, which is reached by the Cherry Valley Railroad, about six miles long, branching off from the St. Louis, Salem & Little Rock Railroad at Midland. It is owned and worked by the Meramec Iron Mining Company, the chief stockholders in which are J. W. Lewis & Sons, and the Dunns, of Illinois. The superintendent at the bank is E. T. Herndon, and about seventy-five men are employed. He owns about 1,000 acres around tliis bank, which, as a kind of mineral wonder, ranks with Iron Mountain and Pilot Knob. Mining commenced here about eight years ago. When work was first begun there was a low hill where the big hole is now. A shaft eighty feet deep was first sunk, and iron ore was found all the way down. A space of four acres in extent was then uncovered to the depth of three or four feet, and ore was found everywhere within these limits. There were large lumps of blue ore scattered through the soft, clay-like red ore, some of the blue lumps being so large that it was necessary to reduce the fragments by blasting before they could be handled. The red ore is shoveled into cars like dirt. The ore is in steady demand, and is shipped to the Midland Furnace, in Crawford County, to Sligo, in Dent County, and to other furnaces, and the supply is apparently inexhaustible.

 

Iron Ridge is, next to Cherry Valley, the most noted iron ore bank in the county, but interest in it is rather historical than practical. It is situated a little north of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, and is reached by a short spur from Knob View. It is estimated that about 200,000 tons of ore have been taken out of this bank. William C. Evans, the present circuit court clerk of the county, once bought this property for $607, and two days later sold it for $775, thus clearing for the time he owned it $84 per day. He thought that was doing well. Since then there has been taken out of this about $100,000 worth of ore. B. W. Alexander & Sons, William M. Senter, and Murat Halstead have been at different times owners of this bank. At the present time, to all appearances, there is little left here except the hole out of which the ore was dug.

 

Following is a list of the iron ore mines in Crawford County, with their locations: The Scotia Iron Mine—Section 1, Township 38, Range 3 west ; Iron Ridge—Section 29, Township 39, Range 5; Cherry Valley—Section 4, Township 37, Range 3; Steelville— Section 5, Township 37, Range 4; Grover—Section 21, Township 37, Range 4; Rovold—Section 26, Township 36, Range 4; Key & Anderson—Section 27, Township 36, Range 4: Clark's—Section 26, Township 38, Range 4; Railroad— Section 14, Township 38, Range 4; Clapp's—Section 13, Town ship 38, Range 4; Card & Zane—Section 13, Township 88, Range 5; Preston—Section 32, Township 39, Range 5; Chapman— Section 12, Township 38, Range 2; Carson—Section 13, Township 35, Range 3; Mountain—Section 16, Township 35, Range 3; Anderson & Clark—Section 34, Township 36, Range 5; Clark & Halbert—Section 25, Township 38, Range 5; Seay & Marsh—Section 5, Township 37, Range 4; Knox No. 1—Section 26, Township 38, Range 3; Knox No. 2—Section 28, Township 39, Range 2.

 

Lead Mountain is near the Washington County line, along the Courtois Creek. Considerable lead has been secured from this mountain by means of a kind of cave or crevice, and the lead has so far been taken to Potosi. It is found in loose chunks or nuggets, smooth, as if by long exposure to dripping water. The

 

Lead Mountain Mining Company has recently been organized, and is boring a tunnel into the mountain at such an angle that the cave will be intersected at about 200 feet from the surface. The company is composed of J. G. Anderson, William C. Devol and some Maryville men.

 

King's Mineral Mountain is in the same region, eleven miles east of Steelville. It is owned by a Mr. King, of Brooklyn. The ore is being mined on royalty by individual miners, but on rather a small scale. Wheeling's Lead Mines and Furnace, owned by J. H. Wheeling, are situated in Section 13, Township 37, Range 2, fifteen miles east of Steelville. The Parker Lead Mines are about two miles south of the Lead Mountain and King's Mountain; they have been, but are not now worked; and the Judge Trask Mines are in the same vicinity. The Arthur Lead Mines are in the southeastern part of the county. Some time the lead mining industry of Crawford County will be of great importance.

 

There are large quantities of copper also in Crawford. Formerly it was extensively mined in the northern parts of the county. Eight miles from Steelville is a deposit of copper owned by A. J. Seay, but at the present time nothing is being done in the way of mining copper. In the southeast corner of the county are thousands of acres of red granite of excellent quality, and fire clay is found in nearly all parts of the county, while in some places onyx of various and beautiful colors is found in caves. Some of it is white and some of it beautifully veined. This is a rare and specially valuable stone.

 

Coal is also one of Crawford County's valuable minerals. A coal mine was discovered by accident by the owners of some land, who, thinking they had red oxide of iron, sunk a shaft three-fourths of a mile from the railroad. At the depth of about fifty feet a bed of coal nearly six feet thick was found. Below this coal there was a layer of blue clay eighteen inches in thickness, and then another vein of coal, which was found to be twenty one feet in thickness in the direction of the shaft. As the vein of coal, however, is not horizontal its perpendicular thickness is somewhat less than this. After reaching the bottom of the coal vein, a drift was made to one side twenty-seven feet, and about 150 tons of coal were taken out and piled around the shaft. But little has as yet been done in the way of mining coal in Crawford County. The coal alluded to lies in Union Township.

 

The first iron furnace in Crawford County was established in 1818. It was located in the northeast part of the county on Thickety. Keeves & Harrison were the proprietors. In 1828 the Meramec Iron Works were established, and turned out at different periods of their operations from nine to twenty tons of iron per week. At the present time there is but one iron furnace in Crawford County, and that is the Midland. It is situated at Midland on the St. Louis, Salem & Little Rock Railroad, two miles north of Steelville.

 

Midland Blast Furnace Company was incorporated in January, 1874, with a capital stock of $125,000, which was subsequently increased to $150,000, and later to $300,000, the present capital of the company. The first directors were G. W. Parker, W. H. Lee, E. C. Sterling, A. A. Blair, L H. Clark, M. D. Collier and I. E. Mills, and the officers first elected were E. C. Sterling, president; G. W. Parker, vice-president, and W. H. Lee, secretary. The directors at present are W. H. Lee, I. H. Clark, A. Lee, I. F. Lee, E. A. Hitchcock, I. L. Blair and T. F. Turner, and the officers are W. H. Lee, president; E. A. Hitchcock, vice-president, and T. F. Turner, secretary. Mr. B. B. Reagan, the present superintendent, first entered the company's service in 1875, and, after filling other positions, was appointed superintendent in March, 1881. The furnace was completed in April, 1875, made a run of a few months, was blown out, and remained idle until April, 1877, since which date it has run continuously, being idle only when repairs were necessary. From the beginning to March 1, 1888, the furnace has used 225,465 1847/2246 tons of ore, and has produced 127,619 tons of pig iron.

History Excerpts from ‘History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, & Gasconade Counties, Missouri’, The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1888

 

 

Last up-dated 09/22/2013

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