Geologically, southeast Missouri lies over sedimentary rock built up over eons of pre-historic oceans rising and falling and depositing silt across the bedrock. This sediment eventually compresses and forms limestone. Hence, quarrying and processing of this natural resource is a major industry in the region.
Originally, three separate plants and quarries operated at Mosher producing hydrated lime and quicklime: Ste Genevieve Lime & Quarry, the Peerless White Lime Company and Bluff City Lime. The three independents were eventually absorbed by Mississippi Lime and converted their vertical kilns to the more efficient rotary type.
The Mississippi Lime plant is huge with 33 tracks as of 1987. A modern era image is available from Vintage Aerial and provides perspective on the size of this facility.
Lime is used in various manufacturing and agricultural processes, including water purification by municipal water departments throughout the midwest. Crushed limestone was sold for glass making, poultry grit, asphalt filler, roadstone, concrete aggregate and railroad ballast.
Sanborn maps are helpful in understanding how the railroad served the lime plants. The following images are taken from the 1929 maps.
Mississippi Lime’s plant will be reduced to a manageable size but will have the main elements: loading of lime products and delivery of resources to run the facility. Supplies are delivered to a warehouse and a coal trestle round out the plant. A run-around aids in switching. As lime production is dusty, expect to see lots of white coating everything in this location.
Typical traffic & shipments…
Mississippi Lime Company has always been the largest shipper on the M-I and typically was switched twice daily by the M-I. In the early years, lime was bagged and shipped in boxcars to protect it from moisture. By 1942, covered hoppers began to move lime in bulk. Despite bulk shipping, boxcars are still occasionally used for customers desiring more convenient packaging. Nearly all outbound loads will require weighing at Middle Yard.
The warehouse receives shipments of bags, cardboard and building/repair supplies. Massive amounts of coal are used to fire the lime kilns. All of Mississippi Lime’s coal originates in Illinois, typically from the Pinckneyville mines via the MoPac and M-I.