Approximately 150 people, primarily from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, attended the premiere of the new documentary "The Ozarks Uplift: The Story of Tri-State Mining."
JOPLIN — Approximately 150 people, primarily from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, attended the premiere of the new documentary "The Ozarks Uplift: The Story of Tri-State Mining." The documentary, produced by the Newton County Tourism Council and funded by Mercy Hospital and Community Bank and Trust, is jam packed with information and stories of lead, zinc and coal mining in the Tri-State area.
With almost more information than the mind can process, the film has dozens and dozens of old photographs, motion picture scenes and several interviews with local historians and veterans of mines or their families. The film explores the early mines and the men who worked them, as well as the men who took a financial chance and either won or lost fortunes.
A recurring theme in the film was that even though the men who labored in the mines were proud of their work and thankful for the opportunity to take care of their families, most did not like the danger and hardships of mining. Several spoke, saying their family members did not like the work "…but people had to do what they had to do." Or, as Bill Crawford of Granby said in an interview, "…you were hungry and you needed to do it."
Local historian Larry James spoke of the economic impact of mining, saying it was good for miners and their families and good for their towns. One man said "If it wasn't for that (mining), I don't know what we would have done."
Lead was the first mineral mined in the area, but later when the properties of zinc were discovered, it provided wealth in the tri-state area. Still later, coal, especially in Southeast Kansas, was the mineral of choice. Many of the coal miners were immigrants from Germany, France, Italy and the Baltic states and these "foreign" names still abound in Kansas. It is somewhat amazing that these men came from nearly half way around the world to work the coal mines.
Many towns are featured in the film, but Granby and the mining museum there has a starring role. The film crew also shot footage in many museums throughout the tri-state area, showing artifacts from the old mining days.
The film tells the stories of the minerals, the mining processes and the stories of the people during the mining boom. It briefly pulls back the curtain to show the wild and wooly times in the mining towns and camps, as well as the labor problems, including the protest march of the Amazon women.
The film is the brainchild of Paul Wannenmacher, a filmmaker from Springfield, and Steve Roark, chairman of the Newton County Tourism Council. Copies of the documentary, on DVD, may be ordered from the Tourism Council.