More than 150 Years of Lead Production
Doe Run traces its history back more than 150 years, when its predecessors first began mining and milling in southeast Missouri. We’ve stood the test of time thanks to careful stewardship of the natural resources in our care, innovations that revolutionized the mining industry and a deep commitment to our local communities.
Click an Interval Below or Scroll Through All History Milestones
March 25, 1864
St. Joseph Lead Company (St. Joe) is incorporated in New York with J. Wyman Jones as president. Purchasing 946 acres of land in and around Bonne Terre, Mo., the company plans to advance lead mining, which had taken place in the form of “open cuts or surface shallow shafts” since the early French and Spanish exploration.
St. Joe builds a reverberatory furnace with plans to build another the following year. The furnaces were stone ovens, sloping to the front and fueled by wood. Mineral concentrates were fed and stirred for several hours to produce metallic lead, which ran down the hearth to an iron pot. A single furnace manned by six men produced 32 pigs of 72 pounds each (a total of 2,304 pounds) in 24 hours.
President Wyman Jones and Treasurer H. N. Camp personally finance bringing a diamond drill to the region for further exploration purposes, leading to the eventual discovery of underground ore bodies in the area.
Production of lead metal reaches 3,400 pigs of 81 pounds each, or approximately 140 tons, per month.
Bonne Terre Mill Rebuilt
The mill at Bonne Terre is destroyed by fire. A new mill is built in just four months at a cost of $222,000 with a compact, and more efficient design, and a capacity of 900 tons of ore per day.
The Doe Run Lead Company is Formed
Wyman Jones and others form a new, separate company, The Doe Run Lead Company, which becomes a subsidiary of St. Joe in 1914 and continues to operate separately until its 1936 dissolution.
Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railroad
St. Joe completes construction of its Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railroad from Bonne Terre to Riverside, Mo., reducing freight costs and providing revenue. St. Joe also acquires 540-acres along the Mississippi River at the old town site of Herculaneum, Mo., marked by only a few houses and remnants of shot towers along the river’s cliffs. The Company acquires the land with plans to build a lead smelter at the site.
Bonne Terre Farming and Cattle Company
St. Joe forms Bonne Terre Farming and Cattle Company.
Lead Smelter Opens
St. Joe opens its lead smelter in Herculaneum with the operation of calcine furnaces, two blast furnaces, a lead refinery, and a power house for steam and electricity generation.First blast furnace building in Herculaneum.
Bonne Terre Grows
At the end of Wyman Jones era, the community of Bonne Terre, which began with two dozen log cabins and a frame house, had grown to a town of 5,000 with homes, schools, churches, a company store, a bathhouse with pool, streets, and water supply.
The 1907 Panic
A banking crisis referred to as “The 1907 Panic” sets events in motion that create financial and borrowing challenges for the industrial community. During the next four years, St. Joe runs up significant short-term debts that threaten its existence, but is able to pay off the debt within eight years.
Electricity comes to Bonne Terre Mill and the end of mule trains at Leadwood mine.
The Bonne Terre Mill is equipped with electricity, replacing steam engines. The addition of air locomotives begins to replace mules on the main haulage line at Leadwood, MO.
Construction begins on the Herculaneum smelter’s baghouse. It is completed in 1916, and helped collect dust from furnace gases.
Flotation Introduced at Mills
Two years after Clinton Crane takes over as president of the company, St. Joe establishes its own sales department, selling a portion of its products directly to customers. The Company also introduces the flotation technique at its mills, which increases mineral recoveries and cost savings.
St. Joe Shovel
The St. Joe Shovel is introduced. The rugged and durable electric scooping and loading piece of equipment, designed by Company engineers and built by the Thew Shovel Company replaces hand-shoveling of ore.
St. Joe purchases the Federal Mill #3, which is the largest concentrating mill in the district
St. Joe introduces the rock or “roof” bolt. Developed to hold the “back,” or roof, of the mine safely in place, the bolt had an anchor that locked it into solid rock, and a cover plate to secure the rock around the bolt. This was a major safety innovation in underground mining.
St. Joe, like many other companies, was impacted by the depression. Rather than close operations, as many others did, St. Joe restricts operations to one week per month, thereby providing some income for employees. Additionally, the company provides employees with garden spots so they can raise food for their families, and permits employees to cut wood from company lands for heating and cooking purposes. The Company borrows $10 million and stockpiles thousands of tons of lead concentrates to provide employees with some money for family needs. By the end of 1936, operations resume to a five-day work week.
1940s & 1950s
Depletion in the Old Lead Belt
Depletion of the ore reserves in the Old Lead Belt in the 1940s drives St. Joe to search for new reserves. In 1945, St. Joe exceeds 3,000 employees.
Indian Creek Mine
Indian Creek Mine is discovered in Washington County, Mo. The site serves as the first major lead ore body to be discovered by St. Joe outside of the Old Lead Belt. The mine and mill begin operations in 1953
Exploration efforts identify ore deposits north of Viburnum, Mo., and by the late 1960s, the mines known by numbers as #27, #28 and #29 are established in what is now known as the Viburnum Trend. This area would one day be known as one of the largest lead deposits in the world and continues to play a role in the global lead market.
Operational innovations and improvements continues. Indian Creek Mine becomes the Company’s first mine without an underground railroad, instead equipping it with rubber-tired, load-haul-dump equipment and transloaders. Early jumbo drills, which drilled four times faster than jackleg drills, were designed by St. Joe employees.
Herculaneum Smelter Expansion
A $10 million modernization and expansion at the Herculaneum smelter is completed to accommodate increased production at the mines.
The Herculaneum smelter doubles capacity to produce 200,000 tons of refined lead per year. The Fletcher Mill, designed by St. Joe engineers, begins operations and is the largest individual producer of lead concentrates in the U.S.
St. Joe Minerals Corporation
St. Joe changes its name to St. Joe Minerals Corporation.
Sentinels of Safety
The first of many Sentinels of Safety Awards presented to mines that today are owned by the Company, is presented to what is now known as Sweetwater Mine. The award recognizes the safest large and small mine in the U.S. each year.
End of Old Lead Belt Operations
Production ceases in the Old Lead Belt and all mining and milling operations are shifted to Viburnum Trend.
Brushy Creek Mill
The Brushy Creek Mill opens. It’s one of four mills built in the area during the era.
Relocation to Viburnum
St. Joe relocates its southeast Missouri offices from Bonne Terre to Viburnum, developing roads, infrastructure, subdivision plots and services to support employees moving to the area.
St. Joe Park
St. Joe presents the deed for 8,341 acres in Park Hills, Mo., to the state of Missouri for a park. Popular for ATV riding, camping, hiking, fishing and more, studies show that St. Joe Park operations, visitor spending, and multiplier impacts of that spending, results in additional $2.6 million dollars in tax revenue annually for the state of Missouri.
Mine Rescue Contest
The Missouri Mine Rescue Association holds the first annual University of Missouri – Rolla/Missouri mine rescue contest. The St. Joe team took home 5th place in the Team Mine Rescue and 1st place in the individual Benchmen’s contest.
Casteel Mine Opens
#35 Mine, today known as Casteel, goes into production and steadily increases productivity. The Viburnum Mill is expanded, increasing its milling capacity from 8,000 to 12,000 tons per day.
The price of lead metal reaches one of its all-time lows, 19 cents per pound. While other mining companies close, the Company focuses on innovation. The Company estimates that 30 million tons of high value ore could be recovered from pillars in its mines, but extraction posed safety risks. The Company conducts extensive testing in remote mine areas and implements an innovative pillar recovery program. By 1991, the Company regularly recovers ore from pillars, a first among underground room-and-pillar lead mines. By 1999, the pillar recovery program accounts for 60 percent of company revenue.
A partnership of companies, which includes St. Joe Minerals, is formed and named The Doe Run Company.
Lead Recycling Added
The Doe Run Company purchases and transforms a primary lead smelter in Boss, Mo., into a lead recycling facility, or secondary smelter. This is the first time a primary smelter in the U.S. is converted to a secondary smelter. The plant’s capacity is nearly triple the production capacity of existing secondary smelters at the time.
Present-day Doe Run Formed
The Doe Run Company partnership dissolves. Under new ownership, the name of St. Joe Minerals Corporation is changed to The Doe Run Resources Corporation and the company is registered to do business in Missouri as The Doe Run Company (Doe Run).
Seafab Metals Purchase
Doe Run acquires Seafab Metals and creates Fabricated Products Inc., (FPI) a wholly owned subsidiary based in Arizona and Washington. FPI produces lead oxide for the manufacturing of lead-acid batteries and fabricated products used for roofing materials, medical and nuclear lead shielding, and bullet materials.
Glover, Sweetwater and West Fork Acquisitions
Doe Run acquires a primary lead smelter in Glover, Mo. By 2003, the smelter produces more than 130,000 tons of primary lead annually. The company also acquires the Sweetwater and West Fork mines and mills.
Recycling Capacity Triples
The secondary smelter operation, Resource Recycling, in Boss, Mo., triples its initial capacity. Eventually, it becomes one of the world’s largest single-site lead recycling facilities.
Doe Run’s Resource Recycling facility marks its second consecutive year of record recycling efforts, recycling more than 13 million lead-acid batteries. The previous year, it began processing parts of a decommissioned submarine, a first for the recycling division.
Bridge Construction in Herculaneum
Doe Run and the city of Herculaneum break ground on the construction of the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railway Bridge over Joachim Creek, on land donated by Doe Run. The bridge provides direct access to the Mississippi River for shipping, as well as quicker access for community emergency vehicles to the south side of Herculaneum. The bridge opened in 2012.
First Sustainability Report Published
Doe Run publishes its first annual sustainability report utilizing internationally recognized reporting standards to share progress related to the Company’s social, economic and environmental responsibilities. Visit sustainability.doerun.com to view our sustainability reports.
Doe Run unveils a breakthrough lead metal production technology proven to virtually eliminate sulfur dioxide emission and air-lead emissions.
Mining Hall of Fame
Former Doe Run President and CEO, Jeff Zelms, is inducted into the Mining Hall of Fame.
Port Feasibility Study
Doe Run and the Jefferson Country Port Authority commission a port feasibility study that reveals repurposing the Herculaneum smelter property into a Mississippi River port could provide an estimated 2,000 jobs.
Planning for the Future
Riverview Commerce Park LLC enters into a letter of intent with Doe Run to develop nearly 500 acres along the Mississippi River, including Doe Run’s Herculaneum site. In 2013, Mississippi Sand is the first to ship products via a new port on the site.
Herculaneum Smelter Closure
Doe Run closes its Herculaneum lead smelter, the last primary lead smelter in the U.S., in compliance with the 2010 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Operations continue at the site’s refinery and strip mill.
3 Million Safe Hours and Safety Milestones
The Company’s Seafab fabrication facility in Casa Grande surpasses 14 years without a lost-time accident. Meanwhile, the mining division reaches 3 million safe work hours with no lost time, and also wins two Sentinels of Safety awards in the same year – a first for the company, bringing its total to 27 since 1971.
Doe Run Celebrates 150 Years
Doe Run celebrates its 150th anniversary through community parades and events, a retiree reunion and a public education campaign about Missouri’s rich mining history.
Sentinels of Safety Awards
Buick Mine receives the Sentinels of Safety Award among all large underground metal mines from the National Mining Association. Doe Run and its predecessors have received 28 Sentinels of Safety Awards since 1971.
Water Treatment Plants
The Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division completes a five-year, nearly $73 million investment to construct five water treatment plants at the mines and mills.
Rail-Veyor Continuous Rail Hauling System
The Casteel Mine becomes the first mine in the United States, and only the second commercial operation in the world, to install the Rail-Veyor continuous rail hauling system. This innovation allows Doe Run to transport 800 tons more ore to the mill each day.
Big Bear Vent Shaft
Doe Run completes the Big Bear Vent Shaft to expand operations at Fletcher Mine.