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Work begins on $19M project to fill massive mine shaft - KOAM TV 7

Work begins on $19M project to fill massive mine shaft in Webb City

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Webb City, Missouri is teaming up with the Environmental Protection Agency for a $19 million project that will clean up an old mine shaft.

Anyone who's driven through Webb City on Highway 71 knows where the Praying Hands statue is, but many do not know what is behind the statue.  Just southeast of the statue is a 100 foot deep vertical mine shaft, with a water level that is about 60 feet deep.

It's called "Sucker Flat".

"The mine pit itself, from the ground level down to the bottom is about 100 feet deep," says Parks and Recreation Director Tom Reeder.  "The water level is about 60 feet, and another 40 feet from the level to the top."

 

In 1876 this was dry land, dug up by some serious ambition.

"It never produced enough that the investors got their money back, hence the name 'sucker'", says Reeder.

And "Sucker Flat" because it used to be flat land.

But ever since the 1950's, Webb City's park director says it's been nothing more than a big gulp of uselessness and concern.

"If you got under the water and ran into the problem, you could have some difficulty," says Reeder.

"It's kind of dangerous," says Webb City resident Charles Phillips.  "Every once in a while, when people might be drunk or something and going around the curb, they could go on in there."

So Webb City is taking up an offer from the Environmental Protection Agency to fill the shaft with nearby mine waste that's above ground.

"They're cleaning up land in other areas, which will allow that area to be developed," says Reeder.

The EPA will also make a nearby lake in King Jack Park bigger and use top soil there to cap the mine shaft.

City officials say the $19 million project paid for by the EPA will take about two years, and reclaim about seven acres from the pit and another surrounding 16 acres when cleaned up.

"We'll plant some trees, we're going to build some pavilions, and picnic tables, and set the area up for community events," says Reeder.

Some Webb City residents tell us they don't want the pit to be filled because they feel the old mine shaft is itself a piece of history.

But Reeder says he plans on putting up signs around the area to recognize the historical value.

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