Wooded hills hide coal mining past.
by Larry Archer
Hidden within the forested hills of Mineral Hills Conservation Area (CA) is evidence of the area’s coal mining past.
But finding the remains of the early 20th century strip- and shaftmining operations, including tailings piles and collapsed tunnels, on this 1,979-acre conservation area located northwest of Kirksville is beyond the skills of the average observer, said former Mineral Hills CA Manager Richard Nesslar.
“It’s grown over; you’d really have to look for it,” Nesslar said. “You’d basically have to know the area like the back of your hand to be able to find any residual old mining stuff.”
The area is 75 percent forested, but when the forest gives way, visitors get a different sense of what the area offers.
“We’ve got some hilltop prairies out there that are really cool,” he said. “They’re just areas void of trees on these hilltops, and they usually provide some really nice views.”
A popular deer hunting destination, Mineral Hills CA also offers seven designated areas for hunters with limited mobility.
“Those are areas from some of our parking lots and roads that are easily open to disabled hunters who have mobility issues,” Nesslar said. “A lot of times we’ll plant food plots and there will be open areas for them to hunt.”
Mineral Hills Conservation Area consists of 1,979 acres in Putnam County. From Unionville, take Highway 5 south 3 miles, then Route F east 2.5 miles.
“It once was a mine; it’s kind of crazy how well it recovered.” —former Mineral Hills CA Manager Richard Nesslar
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