Close-up photos of "Hermann Beach" taken today - Antique "Tonsiline" cough medicine bottle found

Story & Photos by Jeff Noedel

Looking past the limited amount of river-bottom garbage (which might get cleaned-up soon), the exposed river bed of the Missouri River, under the mouth of Frene Creek, offers natural beauty, clues to workings of the river eco system, and an interesting venue for treasure hunters.

This afternoon, CNL explored about three to four acres of exposed, largely dry, river bed with Hermannites Gary Leabman and Jim Allen.

What started out as a survey mission to figure out how to cleanse the rover bottom of about 50 tires and some other garbage turned into a exploration that yielded:

  • ::  sights of elaborate driftwood configurations
  • ::  a few "sea shells"
  • ::  part of a buffalo shoulder bone
  • ::  the skeleton of a large catfish
  • ::  a perfectly intact "Tonsiline" cough medicine bottle

Tonsiline was introduced in 1892 by a pharmacist in Canton, Ohio.  The bottle found by Allen was the oldest model, apparently once corked.  A later style of the bottle would have a screw-top cap.  Allen's find won't make him rich, but he did find a minor piece of history today.  In 1918, during the great flu epidemic, a bottle of Tonsiline sold for 35 cents.  Today, the empty bottle is worth more than $10.

Leabman has been in contact with two important Missouri River advocacy groups, the Missouri River Paddlers and Missouri River Relief.  Leabman said leaders in these groups are delighted to hear of local awareness of trash found in river bed, and they are attempting to assist in a possible local effort to get the trash up into Hermann's Riverfront Park, where it can be hauled away, likely at no expense to Hermann.

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