Gold Mining in Missouri
Prospecting for gold in Missouri is related to the works done in the Mississippi Valley as early as the eighteenth century. Mining activity was performed in Chariton, Linn, Adair, Putnam, Sullivan and Mercer counties. It was in very small grains and the largest particles were found in Adair, being no larger than a grain of wheat. In 1705, the governor of Louisiana led an expedition to the mouth of the Kansas River. Similar exploring parties located the lead mines of Missouri, both of the eastern and western parts of the state. M. de la Motte Cadillac discovered in 1715 the mine since known by his name. In 1719, active mining begun on the Meramec River, while in 1721, the Renault Mine was discovered by the superintendent of the Meramec mines, which was worked in 1742.
The Potosi mines and the southwestern Missouri mining district were discovered in 1798 and 1851, respectively. Although, the material obtained from these mines was basically galena and sphalerite, it contained silver. Silver Creek in St. Clair County took its name from the explorers under Renault, and tradition says that a considerable quantity of silver ore was raised and sent to France. Gold was reported in the state as early as 1855.
In 1875, C.P. Williams, head of the School of Mines, at Rolla, made a thorough examination of the properties where gold was reported as found. The gold was found in small particles in the glacial drift formation, the productive part was composed of three strata of gravel, which on panning showed colors. Nevertheless, tests did not show that sufficient gold could be obtained to pay for working. The area covered by the drift was quite large, extending from Marcon County, northward, beyond the Iowa line. Boulders of granite, syenite, hornblende, greenstone, trap and quartz, together with the gravel were 65 feet thick. The main occurrences were along the Great Chariton River, although traces were found in many localities, especially at Kirksville in Adair County, where considerable excitement work was performed.