The Company Store
In The Valley Where Time Stands Still
14117 Valles Mines School Road 63087
- Wed. through Sunday: Open 10am - 2pm
- Monday and Tuesday: Closed
The original Valles Mines General Store housed the Civil War shoot-out
between Confederate Bushwacker Sam Hildebrandt and Union Army soldiers.
Historically the original building met with 2
tornadoes in 1911 killing seven with only one survivor.
In 1914 the Company directors voted to rebuild the Company store for William H. Bunt,
proprietor, whose very large family then operated it for years as well as
the Boarding House (ruins at #14169 V.M.S.) and the schoolhouse across The Rock Road (foundation
They rebuilt on the former store site by reusing the timber frames still left standing
Similar to a "Pickerington"
and visible inside above your head as you walk in.
The General Store building got recent renovation in 1975 as
a residence after the
unsolved arson of the Rozier House across the street.
The present General Store houses The Lost History Museum in the front half, the
blacksmith's forge in the middle has become a kitchen and modern bathroom, and the
livery stable in the rear is bedroom/storage.
Miners, after registering their claims on the property at the Paymaster's Shack, purchased
tools and blasting powder in the earliest days and later dynamite after the 1870's at the
Company Store, after which Valles Mines was called "Boom Town" with 100 foot deep
mineshafts then being a lot easier to sink through the solid rock after dynamite
showed up in the store.
The General Store Here was where miners, farmers, and townspeople came to purchase or trade goods.
Some came weekly, some monthly, to settle their accounts, after their crops sold,
their mines hit paydirt. Or, sadly, some never again after they went bust. Not every shaft went
down to hit its target, a broken section of the miles of natural caves, many filled with deposits
of 'paydirt', galena (lead) that could make you rich. The largest galena nugget: the size of a
So often forgotten nowadays, blasting a mineshaft down and hauling
minerals out cost a lot and took a very long time, considering no power tools were used for the
first hundred years. Back then, a "hammer drill" was not in a Home Depot aisle, it was a 6 foot long
steel star-drill you hammered on, turned, and hammered again for hours with a 10 pound or heavier sledgehammer.
The Valle Mining Company weighed a miner's lead nuggets and bought them, but others like Baker's,
Carter's in the village at Tunnel Station, Eaton's, and Tarpley's Store down the street accepted them as well.
Lead was considered a local currency, carried and traded. That lead ore, heavy and compact, traded
for different prices at different stores.
"Seller Beware! At Baker's and some others, they advertised that
they paid a penny more but their scale was so off that you actually did better at the Company Store."
Dale ("DD") Frazier
How To Make Rifle Balls
With galena nuggets you could melt down your pocket change
With galena nuggets you could melt down your pocket change to make rifle balls. Valles
Mines lead was so pure that its only impurity was silver. Our lead was shipped back East and,
as of the Declaration of Independence, smuggled back, to Boston, New York and Philadelphia
for the Revolutionary War and our Continental Army.
To see back through Time to an everyday event for colonial riflemen and women, watch
the scene in the movie
The Patriot where Mel
Gibson melts down his son's lead toy soldiers, pouring the molten lead into a handheld bullet
mold, a common household tool in those days. Valles Mines' galena nuggets melted exactly like that.
Battle scenes in that time period documented how they battled at that time, just like in the
French and Indian War that raged just before our American Revolution, where
Mel Gibson's character had become so famous. When George Washington ordered the cannons from
Fort Ticonderoga be hauled 300 miles
to save the Continental Army, they had been left there at the Fort after the
French and Indian War.
Just a few years before, when Francois Valle sent his sons and Ste Genevieve's militia,
all French loyalists, and a ton of cannon balls and rifle balls, all made of of Valles Mines' lead
They fought off, as only 300 men, a British war party of 1000 Iroquois Indians raiding nearby Fort San Carlos, they
saved that Spanish outpost forever -- which you may know now as St Louis, Missouri.