GRANBY — A new documentary focusing on the mining history in Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma and Southeast Kansas is underway.
Paul Wannenmacher, Springfield, has worked with writing and producing three other documentaries (one about Thomas Hart Benton, one about Charles Banks Wilson and the other about the first Civil War battle in Newtonia) with Ozarks Public Television and the Newton County Tourism Council (NCTC), and started this project a few months ago.
On Wednesday, he was in Granby at the Granby Miners Museum to interview residents and a historian about mining history particularly in Granby and the surrounding area.
"I love telling stories, I love the Ozarks," said Wannenmacher. "I am not a historian, but I love the Ozarks, I love to tell the stories of people in the Ozarks, the places and the history."
The title of the documentary is "The Ozarks Uplift: The Story of the Tri-state Mining."
In Granby, mining started off with lead, eventually moving to zinc and then back to lead.
"This era of mining helped create this area," he said.
One of the people he talked to was Larry James, a local historian, who has written numerous books including one called "Earth's Hidden Treasures: Mining in Newton County, Missouri."
"In fact, it (mining) was first discovered here (Granby) in 1850, within about five or six years, there was about 8,000 people at Granby," James said. "This was a center point for the Civil War, because both the Union and Confederate troops wanted the lead that was available here to make into bullets. One of the things that happened was soon after the first battles in the area, the miners either left and went to fight for the Union or the Southern side, so the minesthemselves were abandoned, the smelter was abandoned, so at that point and time, eventually the Union took control of the area, were in charge of it and there were still troops here when the first people were coming back right after the Civil War."
From 1850 to 1870, it was lead the miners went for in Granby. However, in 1870, that changed.
"After 1870 the railroad came through and they were looking for zinc and that became a main item of interest," James said. "After that point and time, when they realized that it was worth something. It is
still was not worth what the lead was, but the lead was getting harder and harder to come by."
Zinc was mined until World War 1, when lead came back into the front line to so that bullets could be made again. The mines closed down in 1950 in Granby.
James said this documentary is a good idea to tell the story of mining in the area.
"I think that it is great, because this is the first documentary that I know that has ever really been done on mining in (this area)," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - NCTC president Steve Roark agrees with the documentary.
"I think without question, it (the mining documentary) is the most important tourism documentary that we have done," he said. "Those of us that work in tourism understand that these boundaries that we call state lines, city limits and county lines, infringe upon our ability to promote our region. This documentary that will focus on mining in Oklahoma, Kansas and here in Southwest Missouri, is going to do a great deal to break down some of those artificial lines."
A while back, NCTC did a driving tour of the area murals. Roark went on to say that this documentary will allow them to add a third route, which will include Northeast Oklahoma and Southeast Kansas, on the mining side.
"The other thing that this is going to let us do, we will be able to market this documentary just as we have done with the Newtonia one. We have these very important museums in Southeast Kansas, Northeast Oklahoma, Granby and Joplin, everyone of these are jewels that people will want to visit and these driving maps and this documentary will showcase everyone of those museums."
Now with all of the information obtained for this documentary, Wannenmacher will get it ready for the final documentary.
"I would hope that we would be done by October, November," he noted.