In 1887, John Frederick Boepple, an immigrant from Germany opened a Mother of Pearl button factory in the Mississippi River Town of Muscatine, Iowa.Soon the industry spread to include other Mississippi Rivertowns.Lake City was home to several button factories and cutting plants.One building still stands today.
In 1916, button factories turned out 6 billion buttons worth 12.5 million dollars.Natural river pearls were occasionally found when the shells were being cleaned, an unexpected bonus for the workers.The factories employed 9,500 workers and 9,700 mussel fishers.
The introduction of plastic buttons ended the MOP button industry late in the 1930ís.
Habitat destruction, dredging and damming of the Mississippi River are to blame for the declining health of the North American freshwater mussel.
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