(Editor’s note: The first part of this article appeared in the November issue of the River Hills Traveler.)
Maramec Spring Park provides an aesthetic blend of history and outdoor fun. This privately-owned oasis is located southeast of St. James, Mo., and is owned and operated by the James Foundation.
The park property was once the site of an impressive frontier enterprise, the Maramec Iron Works. Mining and smelting artifacts, such as old iron smelters, have been woven into the park design. A museum on the premises provides information about the early use of the property.
In 1833, when the books were balanced for the first time, it was learned that the iron works had yielded profits of nearly $37,000 after four years of operation. The partners had invested over $58,000 cash and over $10,000 in borrowed funds. The stock, property and equipment were estimated to be worth over $100,000.
On the frontier, money was hard to come by. With nearly 500 people to provide for, the iron works had to purchase most of their provisions. The land was taken up with timber for charcoal, leaving little space in which to plant gardens or orchards.