Notice was posted at the mines of National Lead Co., in this county, Thursday morning at 11 o'clock, announcing the permanent closing of all their properties in this district on February 28. The notice follows:
NOTICE It is with regret we announce that because of the pre- vailing low price of pig lead and the unfavorable outlook for improvement in the near future, coupled with the low grade of our limited remaining ore reserves, the St. Francois Mill and Mines Nos. 2, 7 and 8 will be permanently shut down, effective February 28, 1933. St. Louis Smelting & Refining Works of National Lead Co. By A. J. CASELTON, Manager. Dated January 5, 1933.
The notice is self explanatory. It simply means that after February 28th, the National Lead Co. will be a thing of the past in this district so far as operating the local mines is concerned. It is a tragedy at this time.
A representative of The News was present when the notice was read to the department heads at St. Francois at 11 o'clock Thursday. When called to come to the office, the tone of voice was not the usual tone, and we knew that something was to happen. When we arrived at the office, the old timers at National were assembled in the drafting room. Local Manager, W. H. Comins, immediately appeared before the gathering and with noticeable feeling, read the notice above printed.
In that group were men long connected with the National Lead Co. and with whom the editor of this paper worked many years ago, when he was employed by that company. The scene was dramatic, we felt it as keenly as did those immediately effected by the statement. In that group was J. P. Mosier, mine superintendent; R. L. Hood, yardmaster and storeroom manager; Roy Poston, mining engineer and surveyor; H. C. Claudy, cashier; Oscoe Albright, Miss Una Hood and many others who have come to the National in later years.
It was a piece of news that we had been expecting for several years, too bad that it had to happen when times are so depressed.
The National has always been considered a fine outfit. Those who have been in charge of the company have always been public spirited and leaders in civic affairs. No man in St. Francois County is more admired and more highly respected than W. H. Comins, local manager, who has for the past twenty-five years directed the operations at St. Francois. He told the assembled group Thursday, that he hoped all would continue until the last day in the same loyal spirit as they had in the past and that no details other than those announced were available at this time. Mr. Comins told The News that he had no idea as to what would be done with the salaried fore and that he was in no position to elaborate on the statement issued by his superior.
The National has operated the property continuously since 1898, when it was acquired from the late W. R. Taylor. There has never been a let up in operations except during labor disputes and by acts of God, and they have been few. In 1913 the property was closed for two weeks during the month of August because of a strike. The National whistle was the first to blow, following settlement of the wage dispute and their pumps never stopped during that period.
Again in 1917 there was a slight interference with operations when the riot against foreigners broke out. It was of short duration, possibly only four or five days. From that date until the general business depression set in, they operated full blast and paid the standard wage.
The close down will effect about 600 employees, most of whom live in Desloge and Cantwell. Of course, the services of many men will be needed in the work of salvaging equipment, etc., and it is hard to say when the last man will cease to work.
The mine pumps will be pulled and the mines will be permitted to fill with water after all equipment of any value has been taken out. The power house will close down as well as the machine shop, the railroad and all other operations.
It goes without saying, that the National has been losing money for some time. No business can continue upon a loss basis. The final end is inevitable and that is what has happened with the National in this district.
The close down of the National has no political significance. The tariff on lead is the same as it has been for the past four years. It is not a temporary close down, but a permanent shut down, regardless of what happens. The National in this county will be no more after February 28th, so far as mining operations are concerned.
The first news of this important announcement to the public was made thru an extra of The Lead Belt News, issued at 12:15 Thursday.
Many men and many interests will be effected by this announcement, but we have not yet lost faith in God and in our country. Everything works for the best and time will prove that statement.
The National will continue to furnish domestic water in the future as in the past, until further notice.