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Location of Bone Hole Access????


Conor
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This is supposed to be a county park but I cannot find anything about the location.  Several conflicting spots came up, some nowhere near the river!

I think this is it but wanted to check.  https://yellow.place/en/bone-hole-swimming-fishing-area-park-hills-usa

We are thinking about doing Mounts (CR 511) to Bone Hole or about 10.2 miles according to what I have seen.  The section above this is super nice and sporty at high flows.  I know eventually you get into the old lead district where it isn't as scenic but want to eventually see it all.  I have not been real disappointed in this river with maybe the exception of Morse Mill to Cedar Hill.  This part and the rest of the last 30 miles or so is really full of trash.  I probably prefer the last 10 miles the most of these sections even though it has lots of trash as well.

Also, is this a safe access?  I found news stories about crime and fights including a shooting.  We ran into some real creeps at Cedar Hill as well.

 

Conor

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            You are correct, that is the bone hole.  It is a local hangout, and because it is rural Missouri there are gonna be some fights and shootings, but I have never had any trouble there.  I have left my vehicle there for day trips, but never overnight.  If the river is really up, and you are not fishing, you can do mounts to the bone hole in a day, but the river is generally slow and that is lots of paddling.  You will have to portage at the low water bridge at leadwood, and the last mile before leadwood is basically a large pond with very little current.  Also, mounts is not a public access and the people who own it may charge 5$ or something to park your car there.  That fee may just be to camp or leave your car overnight I cant remember off the top of my head.

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I've used Bone Hole hundreds of times over the years, and never had a problem leaving a vehicle there, but there are some very sketchy people that show up there regularly.  So it's probably a crap shoot and I've just been lucky.  The Leadwood Access is the start of the water affected by the lead mine waste, but it doesn't get bad until just below Bone Hole. The first mine waste to enter the river comes in via a creek that enters the river just above the Leadwood Access, the second major source of mine waste is the old mine tailings that covered the entire inside of the radical five mile bend starting at Bone Hole.  That mine, and the mines that were in the Flat River Creek watershed, were the main sources of tailings in the river--Flat River Creek comes in a mile below the Desloge 67 Highway bridges.

If you floated above Mounts (the low bridge access that is now private and charges a fee),  from a spot a mile below the Hwy. U bridge in Irondale you were on water that once suffered from massive gravel dredging all the way to Mounts.  That was 50 or more years ago, and it's no longer obvious unless you know what you're looking for, but it took a long time to recover.  If you noticed, there are still long stretches of mostly bedrock bottom in that stretch.  That's because the gravel was excavated down to bedrock, and surprisingly, there hasn't been enough gravel coming into the stream in the many years since to fill up the channel again.  You may have also noticed that those long stretches of bedrock, especially in the couple miles below where the dredging first started, have a general lack of large sycamores along the banks, just smaller sycamores and willow trees.  The big sycamores were removed for dredging and haven't had time to grow back yet.

The gravel dredging continued for a couple miles below Mounts, but that was where the oldest gravel dredging took place, and the only evidence now is old spoil banks barely visible through the trees in a couple places.  But the Mounts to Leadwood stretch suffers from a lot of cattle waste entering the river, and most years it has tremendous weed growth in the summer due to the overfertilization.  The excess weed growth actually disappears about the time the mine waste appears.  From there, the biggest problems are the influx of rather poorly treated sewage from all the towns of the old Lead Belt.  Floating from Bone Hole down, you hit the first sewage influx in the Desloge area, but the main influx is Flat River Creek, because the Park Hills city complex (including the towns of Leadington, Elvins, and Esther) has their main sewage treatment plant a mile up Flat River Creek.  In the summer, floating from there down is a slightly unpleasant experience.  You can smell the treated sewage in the water all the way to St. Francois State Park, and it reacts with the mine tailings on the bottom in a way that produces an algae that forms thick grayish green mats on the bottom.  These mats eventually come loose from the bottom and float to the surface, so you have these chunks of smelly, greenish black algae spread out across the surface floating down the river.  They are stopped by any obstruction and pile up in masses that are just nasty.  How anybody thinks swimming in that stretch of Big River in July and August is a good idea is a mystery to me.

And in recent years, development along the river has exploded in that stretch as well.  Not trying to dissuade you from floating any of it, just telling you a bit of the unpleasantness to expect.  On the other hand, there are still some pretty spots, and the fishing is still pretty decent.  Though the evil spotted bass have reduced the smallmouth population by half at least all the way up to the Leadwood Access; if floating from Mounts down, you may not catch a single spotted bass down to the Leadwood Access, but then you'll catch as many spots as smallmouth, sometimes more, from there down.

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1 hour ago, Al Agnew said:

I've used Bone Hole hundreds of times over the years, and never had a problem leaving a vehicle there, but there are some very sketchy people that show up there regularly.  So it's probably a crap shoot and I've just been lucky.  The Leadwood Access is the start of the water affected by the lead mine waste, but it doesn't get bad until just below Bone Hole. The first mine waste to enter the river comes in via a creek that enters the river just above the Leadwood Access, the second major source of mine waste is the old mine tailings that covered the entire inside of the radical five mile bend starting at Bone Hole.  That mine, and the mines that were in the Flat River Creek watershed, were the main sources of tailings in the river--Flat River Creek comes in a mile below the Desloge 67 Highway bridges.

If you floated above Mounts (the low bridge access that is now private and charges a fee),  from a spot a mile below the Hwy. U bridge in Irondale you were on water that once suffered from massive gravel dredging all the way to Mounts.  That was 50 or more years ago, and it's no longer obvious unless you know what you're looking for, but it took a long time to recover.  If you noticed, there are still long stretches of mostly bedrock bottom in that stretch.  That's because the gravel was excavated down to bedrock, and surprisingly, there hasn't been enough gravel coming into the stream in the many years since to fill up the channel again.  You may have also noticed that those long stretches of bedrock, especially in the couple miles below where the dredging first started, have a general lack of large sycamores along the banks, just smaller sycamores and willow trees.  The big sycamores were removed for dredging and haven't had time to grow back yet.

The gravel dredging continued for a couple miles below Mounts, but that was where the oldest gravel dredging took place, and the only evidence now is old spoil banks barely visible through the trees in a couple places.  But the Mounts to Leadwood stretch suffers from a lot of cattle waste entering the river, and most years it has tremendous weed growth in the summer due to the overfertilization.  The excess weed growth actually disappears about the time the mine waste appears.  From there, the biggest problems are the influx of rather poorly treated sewage from all the towns of the old Lead Belt.  Floating from Bone Hole down, you hit the first sewage influx in the Desloge area, but the main influx is Flat River Creek, because the Park Hills city complex (including the towns of Leadington, Elvins, and Esther) has their main sewage treatment plant a mile up Flat River Creek.  In the summer, floating from there down is a slightly unpleasant experience.  You can smell the treated sewage in the water all the way to St. Francois State Park, and it reacts with the mine tailings on the bottom in a way that produces an algae that forms thick grayish green mats on the bottom.  These mats eventually come loose from the bottom and float to the surface, so you have these chunks of smelly, greenish black algae spread out across the surface floating down the river.  They are stopped by any obstruction and pile up in masses that are just nasty.  How anybody thinks swimming in that stretch of Big River in July and August is a good idea is a mystery to me.

And in recent years, development along the river has exploded in that stretch as well.  Not trying to dissuade you from floating any of it, just telling you a bit of the unpleasantness to expect.  On the other hand, there are still some pretty spots, and the fishing is still pretty decent.  Though the evil spotted bass have reduced the smallmouth population by half at least all the way up to the Leadwood Access; if floating from Mounts down, you may not catch a single spotted bass down to the Leadwood Access, but then you'll catch as many spots as smallmouth, sometimes more, from there down.

Thanks!  It sounds like anything from Bone Hole to St. Francois State Park might best be skipped unless you do them in the colder months.  Your description doesn't sound all that pleasant but I figure I should see it at least once.  Yes, we put up about 2.5-3 miles above Cedar Creek at Hwy 21 so saw the area you talk about.  I didn't see a ton of evidence of disturbance as it has recovered and enjoyed this part a lot.  I would rank it as one of the best higher water floats in MO as it is fast, sporty, and scenic.  We floated under the famous Iron Mountain Bridge and all.  The put in was at Bootleg and the take out at Mounts.  Yes, it is private with a $5 fee so we are happy someone is watching cars parked there.  The part about Cedar Creek was nice but nothing out of this world.  Think the Meramec around Woodson K Woods.  The lower portion of this is worth another run for sure with really nice scenery and runs.

It sounds like the section to Bone Hole is worth doing, then I will consider the next part another day or not.  There are two long parts without access that I want to do including St. Fran to Washington State Park and Browns Ford to Morse Mill.  The trash doesn't seem terrible down to Browns Ford although the Big River in general seems to have a lot of trash.  Anything from Morse Mill down has LOTS of trash!  I think the Morse Mill to Cedar Hill part is the worst section for this and the least scenic.  I do like the other two and probably prefer Rockford to Times Beach even though you are floating amongst cars, tires, appliances, and discarded propane tanks.  I pulled a propane tank out of the river and used it as a trade in core for a new filled one.  Actually I have done this TWICE, both times on the Big River.  I unknowingly pulled another out of the Meramec at Pacific but that was part of a meth lab.

The Byrnesville section was neat as well and probably has the least trash of the lower 30 miles although it isn't exactly low on it either!  I would assume all the trash starts somewhere above Morse Mill.  This is probably the most abused river I have seen so far in MO.  Some may have their share of trash such as the other more urbanized streams but it seems like the Big River is a special case.  The Mineral Fork is not far behind on this but is scenic if you can arrange a private access point.  The entire watershed is also a superfund site which probably doesn't really apply to most other rivers.

I would definitely consider that portion through Leadwood but certainly don't expect anything super nice.  I will just be connecting the dots and probably want to do this before the sun and heat activate the nastiness you describe.

 

Conor

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We found Bone Hole today with no issues.  We did Mounts to Bone Hole and enjoyed it.  The mining blight didn't seem bad, at least this time of year and we had no problems with crackheads or whatever.  I could see suggestions of the tailings and "slime" you mention but it wasn't terrible, at least this time of year.  It sounds like it is worse in the summer and downstream of this section.

I thought this section was nice and definitely worth doing but do prefer the upper part from Hwy 21 to Mounts.  I really think this is one of the best floats in the state at the right water level.

The uncapped boreholes or artesian wells???? were interesting.  I assume they were exploratory boreholes from the mining days that were left unplugged and now flow under artesian conditions.

 

Conor

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I never knew the reason for the pipes.  Always assumed that is where they pump water out of the mine to keep it from flooding and filling up.  Since it was coming out into a stream.

Some stand several feet above the ground level and catch debris coming down the river.

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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