Places To Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: November 2019

Northeast Region | Mineral Hills Conservation Area

Wooded hills hide coal mining past.

by Larry Archer

Hidden within the forested hills of Mineral Hills Conservation Area (CA) is evidence of the area’s coal mining past.

But finding the remains of the early 20th century strip- and shaftmining operations, including tailings piles and collapsed tunnels, on this 1,979-acre conservation area located northwest of Kirksville is beyond the skills of the average observer, said former Mineral Hills CA Manager Richard Nesslar.

“It’s grown over; you’d really have to look for it,” Nesslar said. “You’d basically have to know the area like the back of your hand to be able to find any residual old mining stuff.”

The area is 75 percent forested, but when the forest gives way, visitors get a different sense of what the area offers.

“We’ve got some hilltop prairies out there that are really cool,” he said. “They’re just areas void of trees on these hilltops, and they usually provide some really nice views.”

A popular deer hunting destination, Mineral Hills CA also offers seven designated areas for hunters with limited mobility.

“Those are areas from some of our parking lots and roads that are easily open to disabled hunters who have mobility issues,” Nesslar said. “A lot of times we’ll plant food plots and there will be open areas for them to hunt.”

Mineral Hills Conservation Area consists of 1,979 acres in Putnam County. From Unionville, take Highway 5 south 3 miles, then Route F east 2.5 miles.

What to Do For When You Visit

  • Bird-Watching The eBird list of birds recorded at Mineral Hills CA is available at
  • Camping Designated camping areas available.
  • Backpacking or float-in open camping allowed.
  • Fishing Black bass, catfish, sunfish
  • Hunting deer and turkey - Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations. Also quail, rabbit, and squirrel

“It once was a mine; it’s kind of crazy how well it recovered.” —former Mineral Hills CA Manager Richard Nesslar

What to Look for When You Visit

  • White-tailed deer
  • Coyote
  • American kestrel
  • Sharp-shinned hawk

Also In This Issue

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler