Offroad Park Provides Somewhat Safer Alternative to Riding in Chat Piles
Chat piles are a common site in the Four States, a result of mining in the 20th century. Before they were shut down by the EPA for remediation, four wheelers rode through the chat piles off of Schifferdecker Road in Joplin. Now a local business provides a somewhat safer alternative.
Rusty Davis has been riding off road vehicles since he was a kid.
“It’s a rush, the adrenaline,” says Davis, a Webb City resident.
Now he can ride his AT on 350 acres of land at an offroad park in Joplin.
But before, “I used to ride Alba, Neck City, Webb City chats. You could ride all the way to Carterville, Oronogo and all the way through here, this area, Prosperity, Snow Ball and you could go all the way to Baxter Springs back in the day 25 years ago,” says Davis.
And he’s not the only one who rode through the material left behind from mining. Hills and little traction make for an exciting but dangerous ride, rollovers common at the chat piles.
“A lot of people like getting in the chat material doing donuts and then they happen to catch or grab traction and that’s what flips them over,” says Mike Evans, park manager at J&D Offroad Park.
Some of the chat piles have now been shut down by the EPA for lead remediation and land owners ask that all people stay off the property.
Just across the street J&D Offroad Park provides the same thrills without the risk of exposure to lead and other mining hazards. But the other risks still apply.
“There’s a risk in all of it,” Evans says of the sport.
An inherently dangerous hobby, the experts practice safety first.
“A helmet for starters. I wear goggles, gloves, chest protectors, and a neck brace that will protect you if you land on your head, which I’ve used a couple of times. I have knee pads and boots, I have all the safety gear. I’m going to be as safe as possible,” says Davis.
Despite that, he says it’s not knowing what’s around the next corner that makes the sport so fun.
“It’s a risk, but that’s where you get that adrenaline from. It’s just good times,” he says.
J&D Offroad Park is the last off roading park in the area. But the park manager says they’re not sure how long the park will be open as redevelopment is a constant threat.