After I ran the aerial photo of dust coming out of the Marquette Cement Plant stack in 1966, Keith Robinson commented, “My dad took photos in 1963 from the top of the 16-silo mass. You could see the dust build-up on top of the buildings and vent louvers.”
Then to go one better, he sent me these two photos. He’s right. The whole place looks like it’s dusted with flour. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)
Dust piled up like snow
The louvers and roofs of the building look like it’s been snowing. Even the piles of coal have a coating of white.
Cement plant in 2010
This photo was taken in the fall of 2010 looking pretty much in the same direction as the photo above it. The conveyor system is used to move the cement to waiting barges. Shipping by water is the most cost-efficient mode of transportation.
Thanks to Keith and his dad for the photos and information.
“Marquette to Cut Emission of Dust” was the headline on page one of The Missourian on March 29, 1966, about the time I shot this aerial. The quarry is to the north of the cement plant. Click on the photo to make it larger.
In an understatement, Charles J. Line, vice president of operations and engineering, acknowledged that the dust “is a nuisance.” He pledged the company’s best efforts to alleviate the problem.
Dust from the cement plant coated cars, wash on the line, even the streets with a gritty white powder. Mr. Line said that to totally eliminate the dust would be virtually impossible; the reduction to half is about the best result which reasonably can be expected, he added.
Technology, regulations cleaned up the air
Looks like tighter regulations on pollution and better technology accomplished more than Mr. Line ever thought possible. Here is a photo I took Nov. 10, 2010 from the ninth floor of the Buzzi Unicem USA cement plant. The round object in the center is the equivalent of the dust-belching stack in the aerial photo from the 60s. The only thing I could detect coming out of the stack was heat, as evidenced by a slight distortion in the photo. The white building at the right of the frame is the Natatorium. The view is to the west.
One reason they’re gaining on it is a new pipeline pumping water into Cape LaCroix Creek at South Sprigg. I don’t know if both pipes were being used at one time or if the one is being held as a spare.
It’s only fair that water be pumped back into the creek because that’s where some of it is seeping from.
Sinkholes present challenge
Getting TO the quarry was a bit of a challenge. You can’t get there by going south out of Cape on South Sprigg. It’s closed at Cape LaCroix Creek because of some massive sinkholes. We had to come in from the west.
Devices along railroad tracks
I don’t know what these devices are along the railroad tracks north of the cement plant and south of the creek. Railroads have been using defect detectors for years to find overheating wheel bearings, called “hotboxes;” loads that have shifted; how many axles are on the train; objects sticking out and other anomalies. The devices transmit a radio report to the crew when it passes.
Until regular reader and train buff Keith Robinson chimes in, I’m going to speculate that these devices may be looking for changes in the track that would signal a sinkhole has opened up or swallowed the track.
Gallery of photos
Here are more photos of the Sprigg Street sinkholes and the railroad devices. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the right or left side to move through the gallery.
I have a friend who was looking for some stock photos of Cape to use as headers on a web page. I started poking around and came up with these old and new photos that I think capture some of the spirit of the town.
The biggest challenge was finding pictures that would fit the exact format shape – a skinny horizontal.
Photographers HATE to shoot for shape
Photographers HATE going out to shoot for shape. We always figured that was a sign that the page designer was too lazy to work with the most story-telling photos on deadline. He wanted to dummy the page early so he could go home early.
Photographers, of course, believe that every photograph is perfectly composed. Some would express that conceit by printing their photos “full frame” with black borders that indicated that the picture had not been cropped. (Guilty as charged.)
Of course, as a guy who had to do his own layouts, I found that sometimes cropping the photo made the page look a lot better. It was OK if I did it; it was a mortal sin if someone else did it.
Since I’m not exactly sure what my friend is looking for, I’ve pulled together photos that you’ve seen before and some that were in the pipeline. I’m curious to see what you think best says “Cape Girardeau.”
If she uses any, I’ll post the website address. As always, click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.