The quiet seemed to engulf us as we drove slowly through the cave. Limestone columns stood in rows bringing to mind huge legs supporting the torso of a giant beast. Along the ceiling, rows of flourescent lights cast a dim glow over man made vehicles which seemed out of place in the midst of the agelessness and solidity of the earth that surrounded us on all sides. Thus, I was compelled to research the history of this place.
Mining is a huge part of both past and present for the state of Missouri according to http://www.visitmo.com. Initially, miners didn’t pay much attention to what they left in their wake. But, beginning in the 1950s, they became more methodical in their practices leaving behind caves supported by huge, limestone columns. (Buzbee, 2011) We had found ourselves at a receiver in one of those mines.
Many people in the area refer to the 20 million+ square feet of commercial and storage space as ‘the caves’, while others prefer ‘underground’. Whichever one chooses to call them, they have unique positives and negatives.
Perhaps the biggest plus their tennants enjoy is the constant, average temperature of 54 degrees throughout the year. There is no snow or rain to deal with and the only wind to be felt might be near one of the cave entrances.
One possible negative is the limited number of exits available for emergencies and air flow. Because of this, regular checks are a must for sprinkler systems, carbon monoxide and radon levels, and possible shifting in the ceilings. Storing flammable substances is also forbidden.
As I consider the limited amount of research I did for this blog, I have to say I only ‘scratched the surface’ of limestone mines. Yes, that was corny, but accurate. 🙂 I found most of my information on http://www.progressiveengineer.com in an article by Julie Buzbee. Feel free to check it out if you want tp know more about these fascinating caves.
Until next time, readers,
drive safely out there 🙂