The Old Lead Belt was noted for unique landmarks of waste tailings from lead ore processing. Huge piles of chat, primarily limestone, were scattered throughout the region and could be seen for miles. Like miniature mountains, folks would climb the chat piles, careen up and down on dirt bikes and even picnic on the tops.
As a waste product, the chat was simply dumped into ever increasing large piles. Once the lead mining companies discovered chat could be sold, suddenly, a secondary business appeared. Many area roads were paved with chat and gondolas full of chat from the Bonne Terre subdivision were shipped across the river to southern Illinois farmers.
Of course, chat is contaminated with heavy metals and eventually the EPA moved for clean up of the problematic sites.