Bonne Terre

This is an old mine system. It is open to any open water diver. Most of the dive is open to the surface although there are short swim throughs. Each dive is guided. Check their web site for details.

16 Responses to “Bonne Terre”

  1. admin says:

    Here is a great trip reported originally posted on the ScubaToys Forum on 3/9/09 by “Byteme” –

    Went down to Bonne Terre last weekend for a couple days of early season diving with a buddy and couple DMs who used to work at our LDS who have branched out on their own and arranged the trip. Jess and I drove together and left Milwaukee around 1:00 PM on Friday and drove down. Other than the construction around Rockford, people who don’t understand “Keep Right Except to Pass” and scenery that wouldn’t even make Indiana SE of Chicago jealous it was a smooth drive. That is, until we got to our Mapquest suggested exit… We were staying at the Super 8 right off Hwy 67 in Bonne Terre but Mapquest had us getting off one exit earlier taking us through a few miles of nowhere, trailers, 4×4’s which looked like they’d be happiest crushing cars and more horse apples on the road than other cars. We ended up – somehow – south of Bonne Terre, found a drive through liquor store and pulled up to ask directions. Fortunately we were only a couple miles away and actually passed the mine on the way to the Hotel. We checked in, unpacked and went to dinner in Farmington at The Spoke I think it was called. Brewpub with good food but below average beer IMO. Headed back to get stuff ready for the next day which started at 8:30.

    The two we were with are both DMs and instructors who have many dives under their belts and have been here a bunch of times – it was quite helpful having someone the staff knew and who could answer our questions / get us pointed in the right direction. We filled out some paperwork, gave the BT staff picture IDs and cert cards and then upgraded our tanks to 92 / 100 cu/ft for $8 per dive – IMO, worth it. We brought our own weights so we avoided the $10 fee to rent them. They had the two of us and the other folks added to our group sit down and watch a safety video – very exciting – and then our guide (Sherry – who was GREAT!) gave us a description of the mine, some of the trails, what we could expect to see and do. This turned in to a briefing for our first dive. We were then told to gear up and meet by the Mule Entrance to the mine. EVERYTHING is escorted once you pass that door, I’m sure for insurance purposes – someone; either your guide or one of the safety crew assigned to your team leads you in and out of the mine. Up top there are bathrooms, a surface interval lounge in case the weather is bad and a locker / shower area. Don’t know if the showers worked or not.

    The first trip down you bring EVERYTHING you’ll dive with for the two days, weights, cameras, exposure suit, etc. There are 67 steps and long ramps to walk down total drop probably about 100ft. ending at a “dock” where they tank fill area and benches are. We grabbed our tanks and got everything set up. Once that was done someone from the staff did a gear check before we donned our BC’s, gloves and hoods. Jess and I recently bought Whites Fusion dry suits but they haven’t arrived yet so she dove a 7mm full suit and I dove my 7mm gold core farmer john. We arrived at 8:30 and hit the water at 10:40. There was a good bit of waiting for everyone to get there, suited and queued up by the Mule Entrance so it was a little putzy.

    First dive was pretty benign, once everyone was in the water they did a buoyancy check to make sure you’d sink, then we surface swam over above a “shelf” in about 25ft and dropped down. The safety staff (2-4 people depending on group size who trail the group) or guide checked that you could fill and clear your mask and buddy breath. Once that was done we headed off on the first route. There was some fun stuff to see – this dive was a bit more like and underwater museum with ore carts, shovels, picks, etc. There were a couple points where we did an air check, if you were low you got split off from the group and either surfaced or took a more direct route back to the dock. Total dive time was 47 min, 57 degree water and I came up with 610 PSI after a 3 minute safety stop, 58ft max depth. Started with 2760 in a 92cu/ft tank. Cool dive, didn’t really know what to expect and it was a good primer. The only complaint, lots of people, lots of legs, too many with poor buoyancy!! however, on this dive no real issues with silting, just every time the guide stopped to point something out it was a cluster getting over there to see it. Jess and I hung in back and kind of did everything last to avoid getting our masks kicked off. On this first dive they didn’t want people taking cameras or dive lights.

    After a lunch break surface interval (bring food or head off to Hardee’s, Subway or other) of just over two hours (seems long but by the time you get out of the water, drop your tanks at the fill spot, get your BC, hood, gloves off, wait for everyone and get out of the mine, take off your suit that eats up some time) we got our suits back on and queued up like Mules again to head down. Same drill as last time, pick up tank, gear check, dive description from the guide, into the water for a brief surface swim to the start point. This trail overlapped the first a bit but there was a couple fun swim throughs and some more relics to see. Swam through a couple short overhead environments which spilled our air out so it looked like an upside down waterfall – kind of a cool effect. The surface lights they have provide pretty much all the light (other than hand held dive lights) under there and give a very surreal glow to the place. Our guide kept the pace up well so we didn’t get too bunched up except at the “keyhole” swim through. There was the standard air check and separation at two prescribed places again. This dive was better than the first – more stuff to see, a bit less congested and the swim throughs. Water was always 57 degrees, this dive was 48 minutes, 61ft max depth, came up with 838 psi left in a 100cuft tank.

    Same doffing and leading out of the mine as the first dive, back up to the surface for the SI before our 3rd dive. This SI was 1:23 in total. Seemed quicker because we didn’t take our suits off, just came up to hit the bathroom and get some fresh air. The rest of our group were done for the day so this last dive, trail 4, was just Jess, myself and our guide Sherry. We followed her down grabbed our tanks, gear check and into the water. We started where trial 2 ended and went down along the stairs that we followed up but turned a different direction at the bottom. What a great dive this was – made the whole trip. We got into the elevator shaft, got to a room where there are some broken, oxidizing slurry pipes which give off a white “smoke” that just floats through the water, a couple more swim through and relics, played with a plastic torpedo for a couple minutes. This one was so much fun, very relaxed, there was a short swim back to the dock at the end which we used as our safety stop. Total time 54 minutes, max depth 52 feet, 2900 psi to start, came up with 725 left of a 100cu/ft tank. Got out of the water at 4:40PM, took our suits and anything else we wanted to dry out in the room and headed up.

    Hooked up with the other two guys who had been doing their own thing and went to the Warehouse in Farmington for dinner. Good BBQ, LOTS of food. Yikes. Ate so much pork I got the meat sweats trying to digest it all!!

    Sunday AM started at 8AM with Jess and I hopeful we’d do trial 3 just like we did trial 4 – two of us and a guide. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We had a total of 11 in our group and a new guide today. Two of the group were younger and while about 1/2 were experienced the other half were not. Trail 3 overlapped trial 4 a bit, had a cool vertical swim through, another short overhead “room” to swim through which ended with us then over that room so we could see our exhaled air slowly seeping through the rock – very surreal looking! This would have been another fantastic dive, just like trial 4, but with such a big group (typical group size is 6-8 but this is their busy season so groups can get as large as 12) we didn’t get into some of the rooms we were supposed to go into and even in very big areas it was putzy to get everyone looking at what the guide was trying to show us and poor buoyancy / standing on the bottom, etc. got things a little silted up and cut vis down from 100 to about 25 – 30. I don’t understand how people can be so unaware of others around them in situations like this, one diver didn’t see Jess at all, swam directly into her pushing her into a wall and never even turned around to see what they hit, I had my mask nearly kicked off a couple times and a handful of other near miss “hit and runs”. Again we did the air check at two spots on the dive and fortunately lost the major offenders but by then we were past the really fun stuff. Max depth 52 ft, 50 minutes, 2862psi start, 682 finish. The guide came and talked to us afterwords and without saying the words kind of apologized for the size of the group and pace of the dive. We still had a good time on this one because we were able to just hang back and relax, using the time to work on buoyancy control ourselves and look around at other things.

    One thing to keep in mind, for return trips make sure you get your log book stamped. That way you can pick up where you left off, for example, next time we could do trials 5-8. Since most of their customers are BT newbs like us they have to do 1-4 first so the later trails are less crowded. From what I understand they also get deeper and have more fun stuff to see.

    All in all it was a great trip. The staff was wonderful – all volunteers! This works out well because they know the mine and are passionate about diving. I’m looking forward to our next trip and giving the dry suit a go down there. Heck, we may even do our drysuit class down there this summer when it’s apparently VERY dead!

    If any of my pictures turn out I’ll post them as soon as I get around to doing my workflow on them.

    WOW this got long – sorry! Hope it helps…someone willing to read it all!

  2. snagel says:

    Bonne Terre Mines Treasure Hunt – 2009 review

    Original Post by Fleep on ScubaBoard 6/6/09


    Bearing the surname Packman has always been a mixed blessing. On the one hand people remember my name, but on the other hand, I have been fielding the jokes since sixth grade. Clearly I have a genetic advantage for gobbling chips (be they power pellets, potato, or poker), so I’m not sure that it was fair to allow me to participate in this event for the last couple years… But enough about my favorite topic (me!) and a little about the event:

    I saw many of my local diving friends, met a bunch of cool people, exchanged barbs with my old friends on the mine staff, chatted with some cute diver girls, and won a trip to Bonaire – what a great way to spend a day. The diving was great, the post dive suds that a few of us snuck in (¡¡Don’t tell Doug!!) were satiating, the barbeque was delicious, and (with the exception of NetDoc) the company was excellent. “j/k” NetDoc – Was great to meet you in person, and thanks to ScubaBoard for sponsoring this event!!!

    Steve Dozier and the rest of the staff made it look easy, but I know they put a lot of hard work into making this event such a huge success – as they say on the islands, “nuff respect!” Also the attendees deserve credit for their good sportsmanship and good spirits – everyone I talked with had a blast.

    Feel free to reply to this thread with your own reviews!

    I leave you with the following limerick:

    There once was a hunt at Bonne Terre,
    Even NetDoc was there.
    After finding some chips,
    I bid on some trips,
    And won a trip to Bonaire!

  3. snagel says:

    Bonne Terre Treasure Hunt

    Original Post by ScubaSteve98 on ScubaBoard 6/6/09


    Hello fellow divers! I had a fantastic diving experience at the Bonne Terre Mines this weekend that I wanted to take a moment to share. I must admit that although I have lived in St. Louis, MO most of my life, this was the first dive I had done at the mines. I guess I had figured I was too spoiled from living and diving as an instructor in TCI, HI, Malaysia, and the Bahamas to really enjoy much MO had to offer… That perception has definately changed!! I just want to take a moment and recapture the event of Saturday’s treasure hunt at the Bonne Terre Mines.

    The day for my group started at 7:00 AM for our dive briefing. Dive master Steve had giving us the basics: that we would all be givin a bag and the object of course is to get the most poker chips so that we could win the bid for some of the $30,000 worth of prizes! The black chips were the hardest to spot and were worth $500. The green coins were also hard to spot and were worth $100. Followed by blue coins ($50) and miscellaneous ($25). He ended with “get ready divers, we will be entering the mines in 25 minutes!”
    When we entered the mines there was a short walk down to where the water does. The inside of those caves is very cool and gives such a neat, peaceful experience that is just a break from the real world in itself. We we got to the small dock area we geared up and there were excellent dive masters on dock there to assist and keep everything rolling smoothly as there were quite a few dive groups. When we entered the water we followed a lead who was in a kayak and there were 2 divemasters in our group that were in the water keeping us safe while on the hunt. There were a total of two entries into the water and 4 15 min hunt dives. When we got to the site the dive master gave the final briefing then said “Divers are you ready? Descend!!” Then it was free for all! Down you went and hunting as fast as you could for coins. The adrenaline rush was definately eminent as you searched for the coins. It was very exciting to be searching along and then spot that hidden black coin (I found a total of 6 of these)! I remember saying to myself, “here is black gold!” The dives would end with the divemaster flashing the light to signal it was time to surface.
    After the dive the divemaster would clip the bags shut and we had to take our bags of “gold” to a dive banker to count them up. This helped prevent any unfair actions. The dive banker gave us our final count after the second hunt and let us know what we had to bid on the fabulous prizes.
    After that it was chill time! Divers sat around having some drinks and sharing past dive experiences as we awaited in excitement for the bidding to begin. They served a delicious BBQ for all the participants just prior to the big bid. The bidding was an exciting event led by Steve, who is a real character! This guy was jut made for this! The bidding process was alot of fun. I ended winning a 3 day all dive included stay at the Plaza Resort Bonaire!! I am so excited, as Bonaire is at the very top of my list of places I want to go. There were alot of different travel packages up for the bid along with gear prizes and a ton of free, cool little giveaways they would throw out in between the big bids to help out those that were not winning the big deals. The key point here is that EVERYONE was laughing, and having a good time.
    The Bonne Terre Mines are just so neat and unique. It is really cool what Doug (the owner) and his crew have done with the place. They have really turned it in to a unique town I can best describe as an “old western dive town.” I am planning on coming back EVERY year for this treasure hunt, and am planning on doing many dive tours through these mines. I can truly say that the Bonne Terre Mines has a top notch crew and a dive atmosphere not to be found anywhere else in the world. Doug and every single one of his crew are friendly and professional. These guys know how to have a good time and keep everyone safe. I look forward to being a much bigger part of the Bonne Terre Mines in the future!

  4. snagel says:

    I’m Back……Wow, what a trip. So, I promised a Dive Report. First, let me put out a small disclaimer since there has been so much posted about the Bonne Terre Mine and so many opinions. This is simply the ramblings of my opinion and with that and dollar bill you might be able to get yourself a cup of coffee. Everybody has their own opinion.

    We (4 of us) headed out on 8/1/09 to do 3 dives in the mine (trails 1,2, & 4 – why not 3? As we were told 4 is suppose to be a relaxing dive; so, after a couple dives that day they schedule you on trail 4 for relaxation). Let me back up just a little, scheduling the dive. This was a little odd. I called Brian to schedule the dive and although he was extremely pleasant on the phone, the transaction was a little “stiff”. Once I gave him all the information, he emailed me a copy of the schedule along with a copy of my credit card receipt. My instructions were to sign both of them and fax them back – ASAP. Compare this to a typical order on ScubaToys – I call them and tell them what I want, they ask if they should charge this to my card (which they already have on file) and I get my order. No faxing, no putting me on the offensive with having to sign things and get it back. Anyway, the dives were scheduled and we showed up. Check in for a 9:00 a.m. dive is 7:30 a.m. because you have to fill out all the releases and watch a short video on the risks of diving. Check-in went very well and I have to say everybody we met (staff) were absolutely great. After a brief dive meeting we suit up and head for the mine. They provided the tanks, but you need to bring everything else including weights or you could rent the weights for $8.00. My thought was/is that after you spend nearly $200 to do 3 dives, why can’t they throw in a little lead. This may seem a little trivial, but after you have to carry everything down 65 steps and another couple hundred feet of ramps, it becomes an issue (especially when you have to carry everything back up).

    Our first dive was on Trail 1 and since this was the first dive in the mine for everybody you have to do a safety check that included flooding the mask and clear and buddy breathing. This wasn’t that big of a deal and good refresher. Let me also say that they also checked your gear prior to every dive – I have to say that they are very safety conscious. After performing our skills we headed out on Trail 1. The water was a brisk 58 degrees and crystal clear. We first saw some mining equipment and then headed out into the “Abyss” (more on this later). I have to say that this was not really what I expected. For some reason, I thought that the mine would be well lighted including the water. Above water there were lights but it was very “shadowy” and below the water there was some light, but really it was a very eerie dive. The “Abyss” is what I called the multiple areas where you feel like you are suspended with no sense of direction – you can’t see the floor and only get faint glimpses of the walls. To be honest, this really freaked me out. I have dove in many environments from very limited viz in lakes and quarry’s to ocean dives, and cenote dives. I have never had any real issues with any of these environments, but this Mine freaked me out to the point I ended the 2nd dive half way through and my 3rd dive lasted a grand total of 3 minutes. I just couldn’t do it – my heart would begin to beat hard and my breathing would become almost panicky. I’m really not sure what happened other than the darkness and the constant feeling of floating in the “Abyss” – I simply could not control myself. (Before you say it, on the first 3 trails you are not allowed to have light) As I mentioned, they are very safety conscious. We had a dive leader and at least 2 safety divers to handle people like me. I should also say that we had a rather large group of 14 people (this is not normal – typically, the groups are much smaller). I can’t really tell you much about Trail 2 and Trail 4 because I ended the dives early. The only thing I know is that they have multiple overheads, several areas of “Abyss” and from what I heard, Trail 4 is not really relaxing. This is starting to become a novel, so let me see if I can hit the high points.

    Negatives – $65/dive. This may seem like a lot, but where else can you get clear viz in the Midwest. “Be prepared for the Mule Train” – I like making slow relaxed dives where I can see things. The dives I experienced in the mine were fast past go here then here. I understand they want to show you as much as possible so you get your money’s worth, but the dives simply were not relaxed and may have contributed to my freak out. If you don’t like overheads, this is not the place for you. The rule of thumb is as you advance through the trails you encounter more and more overhead environments. In fact, another diver in our group had to cut dives short because of the overheads – simply wasn’t her cut of tea. The walk down into the mine is a killer – 65 steps carrying your gear. The only thing worse is carrying your gear back up those steps. The escorts – I list this as a negative, but really this is a safety feature, but adds to your feeling of “lack of freedom”. You cannot go anywhere in the mine without being escorted by a staff member. I wouldn’t condone allowing people to just wonder throughout the mine, but this does become a hassle. Added to this is the multiple postings stating, you will be arrested and prosecuted for trespassing if you are found unescorted. Lighting. Maybe I expected something more, but they advertise the great lighting. It was dark and under water it was not lighted, but it wasn’t total darkness. Viz – I list this as a negative. Because of the darkness, you really couldn’t appreciate the clearness. Finally, the “crap” you have to go through to schedule the tours – I understand this is a business, but from the start I was made to feel I couldn’t be trusted and had to fax my signature back or the dive was cancelled.

    Positives – They really try and provide as much safety precautions as possible – gear checks, skills check, and guided safety tours. The safety divers follow the group, but I was able to surface for about 5 minutes without anybody noticing. I had to get my light out (which I wasn’t suppose to have) and flash one of the safety divers. The staff we were exposed to were absolutely the best – very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable (by the way these guys don’t get paid – they “volunteer” (makes you wonder where all the money goes). Facilities – nice and clean with a gift shop, changing rooms, bathrooms, and many displays of mining equipment. (However, once again customer service goes out the window when you have to pay to use the shower) Viz, yes this is also a negative, but where else can you get clean spring water in the Midwest. Overheads, if you like going through holes and shafts, you will like this place.

    All in all, this was not for me. I traveled with 3 other divers. Out of the 4, 2 of us hated it and will probably not go back – the Abyss, Overheads, and Pace of the Dives are simply not for us. However, the 2 other divers really enjoyed the dive and are ready to go back. There has been much debate about the Bonne Terre Mine with heated opinions on both sides. Our experience proves that if you are in the Midwest, you need to try it. It’s not for everybody, but again it is a great dive for many.

    I’ve covered a lot of information and rambled frequently. If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them.


  5. tim says:

    it was great diving with ya’ll this past weekend at bonne terre mines and i hope i can join ya’ll in some of ya’ll diving adventures in the midwest………soon and plz let me know what u think about the pics i’m still learning how to use my camera ………………well see ya’ll uderwater 🙂

  6. snagel says:

    Treasure Hunt Scheduled for June 5, 2010

    Dive the biggest treasure hunt in recent history June 5, 2010 at Bonne Terre Mine. You’ll dive twice and search for tokens in four different areas. At the end of the day, we’ll treat you to a BBQ and then hold our auction.

    You’ll use those tokens to bid on over $30,000 in donated dive resorts, liveaboard trips, and dive gear. This event fills up FAST! Call West End Diving at 314-209-7200 to reserve your spot to bid on GREAT PRIZES!

  7. admin says:

    Dive the biggest treasure hunt in recent history June 4, 2011 at Bonne Terre Mine. You’ll dive twice and search for tokens in four different areas. At the end of the day, we’ll treat you to a BBQ and then hold our auction.

    You’ll use those tokens to bid on over $30,000 in donated dive resorts, liveaboard trips, and dive gear. This event fills up FAST! Call West End Diving at 314-209-7200 to reserve your spot to bid on GREAT PRIZES!

  8. Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  9. snagel says:

    Diving in Bonne Terre
    January 23, 2012
    Original Post by Altaskier on ScubaBoard

    There are a few trip reports here regarding the Bonne Terre mine, but I thought I’d add my own. I went there this past weekend with a fun group organized by Susan of Chicagoland Four Seasons Scuba Club/Chicago Scuba Meetup. Susan arranged for our group to have the hospitality room at the Super 8 in town, and to use the divers’ lounge area at the mine with chili and snacks set out between dives, and those were great extra touches! I did three dives on Saturday, and two on Sunday.

    As others have reported, they have 24 trails that you have to do roughly in sequence. Before trail 1, you have to watch an old video reminding you of the basics of scuba diving (about 15 minutes), and get a briefing on the dive. You then head down to the mine, walking down some 60-70 steps and then a sloping path down into the mine (I didn’t find it to be too bad). The main entrance room is huge, with very large open spaces, so it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic. There’s a wooden platform with benches and tanks, and a floating platform edge for jumping into the water, and floating steps with a handrail for coming out. After grabbing a tank and setting up your gear, one of the staff check out your kit to see that the regs and inflator are working etc. For dive 1, you do a surface swim to a room with a floor at about 20 feet, and then you have to demonstrate air-sharing with a buddy, and clearing your mask. You can have 10 dives in your log or 1,000 – they want everyone to demonstrate this.

    The dives are led by a guide, with usually two safety divers bringing up the rear of the group. Those three staff divers have blue glowsticks on their tanks, while you get a green glowstick. The leader will usually check air once or twice during the dive, and those who are below a certain threshold will ascend and do a surface swim back, led by one of the safety divers. On trail 1 you’re not allows to use your own light (so that there is no confusion on communication from the dive guide), but you can bring a light on subsequent trails. Also, the water temperature was 58 F on our visit, and it stays pretty constant year-round. The staff all use dry suits, and about a third of our group was also diving dry (including me). Nearly all the tanks had yoke valves, but they did have just a few with DIN valves. Nitrox is available, but the surface intervals are long and since you have to dive in a group with non-nitrox divers I didn’t see any added value in using nitrox so I didn’t fork over the extra money. And speaking of extra money, I humped my own weights down with my gear at the start of my two days, and brought them back out at the end of two days; otherwise you must pay something like $17/day to rent weights down in the mine. Also, those in our group who don’t own their own gear rented from their local Chicago area dive shop, so we didn’t have any chance to evaluate the quality of the gear they rent at Bonne Terre.

    As far as the diving goes, I found it to be a unique and neat experience, and it got especially interesting after the first two dives were out of the way. They cavern has bright lights at various places throughout, so in many cases you are in a reasonably well lit room. In other places you have very little ambient light, and there are some rooms and passages where there’s no light at all except what you bring yourself. The topography of the mine is really neat; sometimes you’re swimming between these huge, towering rock pillars in a scene that reminded me a bit of the fake-submarine scenes in the movie “Hunt for Red October.” Other times you’re going through narrow passages, and here and there you find mining artifacts like pick axes, ore cars and rails, remains of an elevator, X marks on walls where blasting was planned…

    The place is more like an underground lake with passages cut between rooms (and sometimes at multiple levels), so it’s not as unforgiving as cave diving. You may sometimes be guided through overhead regions (more and more I guess as you progress through the trails), but on the dives I did we were nearly always within 100 feet or so of a location where one could rise to the surface and do a surface swim back if necessary.

    At least to a first-time visitor, it’s not always easy to figure out which direction leads you back to the dive dock, so it’s quite understandable that you are required to dive as a group. This can sometimes be a bit of a pain, with the possibility of literally bumping into your fellow divers (depends of course on the experience and politeness of the group) and occasional waits for the group to go in turn through a narrow passage. Still, I can understand their need to have groups stay together with safety divers in tow so as not to get lost! Also, unlike a coral reef where the name of the game is to go slow in order to see all the hidden critters, here you tend to haul ass around since you have to swim from the dive dock through to some other area in the mine and work your way back again.

    I took some pictures through the weekend; a link is here. I ended up using only ambient light, because it seemed the best way to convey the feel of the place. After some experimentation, I ended up going into manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second (in order not to have blurring from camera wobble), wide open F2.0 aperture on wide angle, and ISO 1600 or 3200. I also went to manual focus on infinity, so as not to have the auto focus hunt around when it was dark. This was on a Canon S95 (saving files in raw mode) in an Ikelite housing.

    All in all, it was a neat diving experience. Yes, diving in a crowded group was a bit weird, but I can understand it from a safety point of view. More importantly, the scenery and feel of the place was quite unique, and for this timid soul this is the closest I’ll ever come to cave diving. I thought it was a cool trip!

  10. snagel says:

    Dive the Biggest Treasure Hunt in Recent History

    at Bonne Terre Mine
    June 2, 2012

    Come join us for our fifth and largest Treasure Hunt. We’ll have more vendors at the event than ever before. If you don’t win their donated prize, you can take advantage of their event special pricing. This year we have more donations than ever before.

    The event has become so successful that we have enough sponsors to guarantee everyone wins prizes.

    You’ll dive twice and search for tokens in four different areas. At the end of the day, we’ll treat you to a BBQ and then hold our auction.

    You’ll use those tokens to bid on over $30,000 in donated dive resorts, live aboard trips, and dive gear. This event is filling up FAST!

    Special Sunday Dives

    As an added benefit, we are offering special Trail Dive pricing for Sunday. These dives are normally $70.00 each. As a valued participant in Bonne Terre Mine’s treasure dive we are offering Sunday Trail Dives at $55.00 each with a 2 dive minimum.

    Call West End Diving at 314-209-7200 to reserve your spot to bid on GREAT PRIZES!

    Registration Information:
    Advance Registration is Required
    Limited Spaces available so make your reservation now for the $30,000 Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt.
    $129.00 Entry Fee
    Includes: 2dives, tanks, bbq, t shirt
    Call Now
    888-843-3483 u 314-209-7200

  11. Snagel says:

    Dive the Biggest Treasure Hunt in Recent History

    June 2, 2012
    Don’t Miss This Opportunity. The only diving event that’s entirely indoors. No more waiting in 100 degree weather for your next dive. In between dives the events will be hosted in Bonne Terre Mine’s new convention and event facility. One person will walk away with a 2 night 3 day wreck tech for a party of 5! Others will win one of four liveaboard trips, 2 dive trips each for a party of 2. We’ll also give away trips to Mexico, USVI, Bonnaire, Belize. These are just a few of the trips that too be given away.

    Do you need a BCD, Mask, Dry suit inflation system from DUI, an underwater video camera or housing unit? In the market for a $1,800 dive computer? You may be the lucky one that wins Mares new integrated HD computer. We have $15,000 in donated trips and $15.000 in donated product. You’ll dive twice searching for tokens. We end the day with a BBQ and auction, you’ll use those tokens to bid on the donations! ( No cash allowed)

    Special Sunday Dives & Rebreather Demo Dives

    As an added benefit, we are offering special Trail Dive pricing for Sunday. These dives are normally $70.00 each. As a valued participant in Bonne Terre Mine’s treasure dive we are offering Sunday Trail Dives at $55.00 each with a 2 dive minimum. Call 888-843-3483 for more information on the Poseidon rebreather demo dives.

    Registration Information:
    Advance Registration is Required
    Limited Spaces available so make your reservation now for the $30,000 Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt.
    $129.00 Entry Fee
    Includes: 2 Dives, Tanks, BBQ, T Shirt
    Call Now
    888-843-3483 u 314-209-7200

  12. Snagel says:

    Original Post by FFHamm on ScubaBoard

    Had a great time at Bonne Terre this year for the annual Treasure Hunt, and a couple of days of running the trails.

    I Flew into St Luis with the intention of wandering around and sight seeing. Being from Az, it was nice to see how green everything is, and leaving the 110 degree heat for the 70’s was wonderful ( I was told its usually quite a bit warmer, but I guess I got lucky). An hour and a few minutes worth of driving later, I was in the town of Bonne Terre.

    The first day, there were a few people milling around in the parking lot some diving some taking the tours. I recommend a tour sometime during your trip, you can learn a lot about the history and methods of operation, if you include the boat tour, you can get a nice idea how some of the areas you are going to dive are laid out. Thanks to Amanda, our guide, for putting up with all our questions and being a good sport, she was a fun guide.

    Back to the dives. After gathering all the gear, we headed down the stairs and into the mine. Several steps later,and a couple hundred yards of smooth trail, we arrived at the underground dock. We geared up and got ready for the first dive of the day. Jumping in, I remembered exactly what 58 degree water felt like (my computer swears its 59.4) either way, for a guy who rarely wears more than a shorty it got my attention. Once everyone had entered the water our guide gathered us up for a short surface swim to the area that began our dive for that day. Bonne Terre does a great job of looking after their divers. We had a guide and a few safety divers with us on every dive.

    Our first trail of the day was trail 10. We headed down into the mine to an ultimate depth of 84 feet. Its not often you get to see a train under water and we spent a few minutes exploring it. There was a little shack on this dive too. Its amazing what kind of shape this stuff is in after being under water for so long. The second dive of our day was trail 4, we had a couple of swim throughs and ended up at ‘the structure’. What a way to start our trip, two great dives with good friends, and no hypothermia!

    The treasure hunt was the next day. We were assigned group numbers when we registered from group 1-6 and posted around the facility were schedules for each group. Arrival was about two hours prior to actual dive time. When we arrived we checked in, and received a swag bag that included a t-shirt and some great discount coupons. 20 minutes later we got a dive briefing and were told the rules of the treasure hunt. About 40 minutes after that we entered the mine to begin our hunt.

    The treasure hunt started with a short surface swim to the area we would search first. The way this all works is pretty easy, there are 4 searching areas and each group is divided into ‘A’ and ‘B’. You search one area for about 15 minutes then move on to another. You grab all the chips you can and stuff them in a bag that is provided by the mine. Chips have a value ranging from 25 to 500 points. When you finish with your search, your bag is sealed shut to prevent chip pooling, then you head to ‘the bank’ to record (deposit) your winnings. After your surface interval (during which, more chips are hidden) you return to the mine for a second round of searching.

    After all the searching is done its time for dinner. Bonne Terre had a great BBQ lunch catered in. Pulled Pork,hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, sheet cake, iced tea and more. The food was good, and there was plenty. Its always disappointing when you go to these things and the food runs out. Not a problem here.

    Time for the auction! About 14 vendors had been on site all day showing off their latest products and taking the time to show all the participants all they had to offer. Now that dinner was done, it was time to give some of it away! 60+ items were available for bidding and we were told the retail was over 30000 dollars! This stuff wasn’t junk either. There were about 10 trips including a couple live aboards and some wonderful dive locations. The vendors offered some of their finest products, wetsuits, regulators, BC’s, computers,cameras and housings. Bidding was fast and crazy. All of us divers had the value of our chips sitting in ‘the bank’ and burning a hole in our wetsuits. Out of the group I was with, we were able to bring home a seahorse brand hard case, a 100 dollar gift certificate to Dive Right In, a 200 dollar WetWear credit and I was able to bring home a 6 day 2 tank dive package for 2 people from Stuart Cove’s in the Bahamas! Hopefully I have another prize coming my way soon….. wink wink!

    The next day we were back to the trails! Our first dive of the day was the longest of the trip, just over an hour. We dove trail 8 to the ‘Redwood Forest’ then after our surface interval dove trail 4 for the second time of this trip. What a great day of diving!

    The Treasure Hunt was a great event, and I cannot say enough about the staff at the mine. The dive guides and safety divers did a great job of showing us where to go. The people working the store and the dive shop must have walked 1000 miles back and forth showing us where we needed to be and hooking us up with all the people we needed to see.

    There were a few things I thought could have been a little better, but for a event of this size, i was amazed how well organized and smoothly it ran. I’m sure every year they iron out the ‘little things’ for the next year.

    Looking forward to next year,


  13. Snagel says:

    Dear STEVE,

    As one of our valued customers we would like to invite you to attend one of the Largest Scuba Diving Treasure Hunts ever. Our 6th annual Treasure Hunt will be held on June 1, 2013 at Bonne Terre Mine. We have over $30,000 in donated prizes including $15,000 of dive trips. You’ll dive twice and search for tokens in four different areas then at the end of the day, we’ll treat you to a BBQ and then hold our auction. You’ll use those tokens to bid on over $30,000 in donated dive resorts, live aboard trips, and dive gear.

    For all those participating in the treasure hunt we are offering special discounted Sunday dives. This event is filling up FAST and Advanced reservations are required!

    Get more information
    Register Now!
    I can’t make it

    For more information or to participate in the treasure hunt visit our web site, click on one of the above links or call us at 888-843-3483.

    Thank you for taking time to check out the Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt we hope to see you at the Treasure Hunt.

    Doug and Catherine Goergens

    West End Diving and Bonne Terre Mine

  14. Snagel says:

    June 2013
    Original Post by DOlexa on ScubaBoard

    OK, so let me get this straight. We’re going to dive in an old lead mine, a billion gallon underground lake, to look for poker chips? Then use our “winnings” to bid on trips and gear? Just how does THAT work?

    The answer is, actually quite well. This past Saturday, (June 1, 2013) I took part in Bonne Terre Mine’s annual Treasure Hunt dive. Our group signed up as soon as the event was announced in March.

    The event was quite well organized and timed out to perfection. Four groups of divers entered the water in one hour intervals to search designated quadrants for chips. In each area we were given 10 minutes to scour the bottom for the little circular devils. Sounds easy, right? How hard can it be to spot a perfect circle of colorful plastic against the random shape of mine rocks? Uh, well, you should try it sometime (like sign up for next year’s dive hint, hint…).

    The mine is perfectly suited for an event such as this. Crystal clear spring water allows the rock bottom to be lit from above by commercial lighting. The vis is fantastic even as seventeen divers hug the bottom turning over rocks and picking up whatever tokens they can find.

    Diving in four locations, all roughly 25 feet deep, we searched for the poker chips – the darker ones, being harder to spot, are worth higher values than the lighter ones that stand out brightly against the rock bottom. Be aware, the white chips are distractions, merely the calls of sirens, beckoning you with their brilliance. As you spend time listening to them and plundering with ease, you are losing time to more experienced divers who tune out their song, ignoring the easy pickings. They instead focus on searching for the black, blue and green chips. For reference, it takes twenty white chips to equal the value of one black chip.

    My initial strategy was to pick up everything I could get my hands on. After all, they all add up, don’t they? As I sat at the auction Saturday evening, I realized my plan had been misguided.

    I had felt good with my point total of 3,800. With this being my first year, I had no benchmark for reference. I had found 5 black chips over the course of my four dives. Each was worth 500 points. The variety of blue/green/red/white chips rounded out my total. One other member of our group had tallied over 7,200 points. We spent the afternoon reviewing the auction items ranging from trips to BCDs to wetsuits, lights and a camera. We knew exactly the items we were going to be adding to our equipment inventories.

    Then the auction started…

    The grand prize was auctioned off first. Bidding was fervent. When the auction finally ended with the trip going for 13,000 points, we knew we had fallen short for the day. A majority of the items closed for over 7,000 points. My dive buddy did walk away with an Analox CO monitor toward the end of the evening. Unfortunately, my point total was far shy of what became the minimum opening bid as the evening wore on. I sat back and made my plans for next year, setting goals for trips to be won and developing strategy for discovering chips.

    The fact that after the auctioning of over 40 items from the prize pool there were still bidders calling out offers of 6,000 points illustrates how misguided I was in my chip-picking strategy. It also points out just how many chips were hidden in the mine for the hunt. I believe that I heard that over 5,000 chips had been placed for the event. In all, the divers had recovered only 87 percent over the course of the day. Congratulations to all of the auction winners – you have inspired me.

    There is still good news though. Everyone who attended the event did come away with a prize. There were numerous random raffles throughout the evening. Masks, snorkels, wetsuit warmers and first aid kits were just a few of the additional items handed out. I am looking forward to using my wetsuit warmer this year – Beaver Lake, AR can be cold at depth.

    So, you ask, “Would I make the 4 ½hour trip east on I-70 again to risk the same result?”

    You bet.

  15. Snagel says:

    Treasure Hunt Scheduled for………

    June 21, 2014


    $30,000.00 in Donated Prizes!

    Need a new BCD, Reg Set, Dive computer, fins, mask or just want to get away on a trip to a live aboard or a tropical paradise?

    This is truly a “Treasure Dive”. When you check in, you’ll receive an auction book, which details all the products and trips that have been donated.

    You’ll dive twice and search in 4 different areas for colored tokens. There are an equal number of tokens for each group to “hunt during each dive”. Above ground vendors are waiting to show you their latest and greatest products and dive destinations. We have several games to play and over 130 divers from all over the country to share your dive stories with, In between dives you’ll start strategizing about the products/dive trips you want to win! At the end of the day we host a BBQ and then…


    You’ll use your tokens to bid on donated prizes and trips. (No cash allowed)

  16. Snagel says:

    The Mine at Bonne Terre
    Treasure Dive
    June 10th and 11th

    The Mine at Bonne Terre Updates

    The Mine at Bonne Terre would like to extend a personal invitation for you to join us for one of the largest Treasure Hunts ever!

    Register On Line Today

    The Mine at Bonne Terre
    Treasure Dive
    June 10th and 11th
    We have thousands of dollars in
    donated prizes ranging from dive trips at scuba resorts, to equipment and various other items.

    The Mine at Bonne Terre
    Treasure Dive 2017

    Join us for our largest ever Treasure Hunt. We’ll have more vendors at the event than ever before. If you don’t win their donated prize, you can take advantage of their
    event special pricing.
    You’ll dive twice and search for tokens in four different areas.
    Pup Morris will be providing live entertainment throughout the day.
    At the end of the day, we’ll treat you to a BBQ and then hold our auction.
    Use your tokens to bid on thousands of dollars in donated dive resort trips, live aboard trips and dive gear. This event is filling up FAST!

    Special Sunday Dives
    As an added benefit, we are offering special Trail Dive pricing for Sunday. These dives are normally $80.00 each. As a valued participant in The Mine at Bonne Terre
    Treasure Dive, we are offering Sunday Trail Dives
    at $65.00 each with a 2 dive minimum.
    ( These dives will qualify you for Mine Diver Speciality through PADI, and SSI for $85)

    Registration Information
    Advance Registration is Required
    Limited Spaces available, so make your reservation now for The Mine at Bonne Terre Treasure Hunt.
    $149.00 Entry Fee
    Includes 2 dives, tanks, bbq and t-shirt
    Rental gear available

    Register Online Now

    Or call us at 888 843 3483 or 314 209 7200

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