A Geological Visit to the Virginia Copper Region
by Richard O. Currey, A.M., M.D. — 1859
To L. H. Anderson, M.D.,
of Gainesville, Ala.
Dear Sir—During the sultry days of September, while others were seeking out the quiet, cool, retreats of the Virginia Springs, so noted for their healing waters, you proposed a jaunt through the Copper Region of Virginia, that we might see and know for ourselves, all that could be seen and learned with references to its character and importance. Arriving at Hillsville, the pleasant county seat of Carroll, and making the hospitable mansion of Edward Walker, Esq., our headquarters, we started out on our excursions, and had the pleasure of spending one month together in examining into the Geological formations and Mineral resouces of Floyd, Carroll and Grayson counties, Va., and Ashe and Alleghany counties, N.C., traversing these five counties throughout their length and breadth, and traveling in them a distance of 480 miles. Each important mineral lead was take up by us in order, and traced its entire length; and every mine, and opening that had been made on these leads, were personally visitied and examined, our desire to read these mines throughougly inducing us to descend many shafts and explore many tunnels that had been abandonded, and where more cautious feet would have refused to follow. Together we examined the cascades, so abundant on every stream in this region, enraptured with their beauty, and impressed with their ability and adaptation to the industrial pursuits of man. Togehter, too, we ascended the mountain heights and gazed upon the varied landscape spead before us, and as we gazed we thought of the teeming population that would ere long fill the pleasant valleys and cover the hills, attracted by the inexhaustible mineral resources, as also the agricultural capabilities of this beautiful region.
Never before have I undertaken an examination of a region that afforded so much that was instructing to the mind and agreeable to the feelings; and that which contributed no little to the pleasantness of our visit, was the cordiality and hospitality with which we were everywhere received.
The result of this visit is embraced in the following pages. To Capt. McFarland, of the Cranberry mines; Capt. Heiskell of the Sarah Ellen; Capt. Hanley, of the Betty Baker; Capt. Gill of the Toncrey; Capt. March of the Outburst; and Capt. Graham, of the Peach Bottom, we were indebted for valuable aid, not only in piloting us through the dense forests and over the hills, but also in placing before us all the necessary facilities for making a thorough exporlation of their respective mines.
To Col. F. K. Armstrong, of Carroll, F. L. Hale, Esq., of Hillville; Col. M. D. Carter or Patrick; Mr. Buchanan of Ashe; Samuel McCamant, Esq., of Greenville; Mr. Wood of the Cook & Wistar properties; and Mr. Howell of Jacksonville, I desire to express my acknowledgements for valuable information, and for their kind attentions. Neither would I forget the kindness and hospitality of our host, Edward Walker, Esq., with whose familyi we enjoyed the rest and quiet of four successive Sabbaths.
And to you, my dear sir, I owe much for the pleasantness of this jaunt, and as a slight token of my appreciation of your worth as a friend and as a lover of science, I desire respectfully to dedicate to you this.
Copper Regions of Virginia
Very Truly, your friend
Richard O. Currey
Dec. 1st, 1859
Introductory. The Geological Survey.
Its Objects—When, during the past summer, it was proposed to me to undertake the examination of the geology and mineral wealth of the Copper Region of Virginia, embraced in the counties of Floyd, Carroll and Grayson, the request was cheerfully complied with, for the reason that the field was comparatively new and I was desirous of examining into the relation between these mines and those at Ducktown; at the same time to contribute to the development of a mineral region that stands second to none in the Union, not only for its supply of ores, but also for their richness and extent.
In the performance of the duties of the survey, the three counties mentioned, together with Ashe and Alleghany, in North Carolina, were traversed in various directions; the leads traced out, and the strata crossed, requiring a travel of 480 miles in the five counties.
Its Aids—Desirous of constructing a geological map of this region, I labored under the disadvantage of not being in possession of an accurate geographical map, having frequent occasion to correct the existing maps, especially with reference to the water courses, which serve an important purpose in mineral regions in affording power for mills and blast furnaces. Any errors therefore upon the map, geographically, must be attributed to this fact.
In delineating the geological formations I have endeavored to be as accurate as the survey could make it. The sections were drawn as each county was traversed, and illustrate the order in which the several strata lie upon each other.
In this “Visit,” I have deemed it proper to set forth the agricultural resources of this district, as also its climatology, for a mining region must possess the necessaries of life to render it desirable or profitable.
Physical Geography, Agricultural Resources, Climate
The Copper Region, described in this survey, is embraced in the counties of Floyd, Carroll, and Grayson, in the south-western part of Virginia, and in the adjoining counties of Ashe and Alleghany, in the north-western part of North Carolina. Composed themselves of a series of ridges and mountains, they are confined between the ranges of the Iron mountain on the west, and the Blue Ridge on the east, both of which in their north-east course gradually approximate, until the merge into one chain at the north-east corner of Floyd.
The Iron mountain presents a regular course N. 54º E, while the Blue Ridge is not so much inclinded to the east, its bearing being about N. 10ºE. The Blue Ridge is the more elevated of the two ranges, and impresses the general physical features of the entire adjacent country.
Although thus enclosed by mountain ranges, this region is not a valley, but composed as stated, of numerous ridges and mountains with their intermediate valleys, which observe no regular direction, and consequently the smaller streams, which so abundantly drain this entire region, are very tortuous in their course; the entire drainage of the country, however, being from the base of the Blue Ridge westwardly to New River. This stream, coming from North Carolina, flows through the counties under examination, receiving several tributaries, and finds an out-let through Iron mountain on the western boundary of Carroll county. Thus in Floyd, Little River takes it rise by three branches in the Blue Ridge, and running westwardly through Iron mountain, empties into New River. In Carroll, Big Reed Island Creek heads up in Patrick county, on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, near the head waters of Dan River—makes its way through the gorges of the Blue Ridge, receives into its bosom the waters of Laurel Fork, Big and Little Snake Creeks, Greasy Creek, Beaverdam, and lastly, Little Reed Island Creek, and then forces its way through Iron mountain to the channel of New River. This is an important point in any Railroad enterprise that may hereafter be undertaken, affording the only practicable route from Danville to this Copper region. Crooked and Chestnut Creeks in the southern part of this county pursue the same western course to New River. In Grayson, New River may be said to afford the basin as it traverses the center of the county, into which the waters of both ranges of mountains are drained off. Thus on the east we find Little River, while on the west are Elk, Peach Bottom, Fox, and Wilson Creeks, coming from the base of the Iron mountains.
Passing into North Carolina we find the same drainage flowing in from the east and the west as just noticed in Grayson.
These water courses are important features in the prospective developments of this region, for no better water power can be desired than is to be found upon these tributaries for all kinds of manufacturing opertions.
Along these mountain ranges are many elevated peaks, affording most extensive and beautiful views. Buffalo mountain, in the Blue Ridge, is one of these well known points. From its towering hump may be had a view of the Peaks of Otter to the east, and of Pilot Knob in North Carolina; while just as extensive and as splendid a view is obtained from Point Lookout, in Buck’s mountain, not far from Independence, Grayson county.
However, notwithstanding the ruggedness of many portions of this district, there are enclosed between the ridges and mountains fertile valleys, in a high state of cultivation; the grassy meadow, with grazing herds, surrounding comfortable country mansions, while the burdened orchards and promising fields of corn on the declivities indicate thrift and comfort, as well as skill in husbandry.
This entire region is admirably adapted for agricultural purposes, and for stock raising. The soil produces abundantly Indian corn, wheat, buckwheat, tobcacco, oats, and rye—while for grass they are scarcely excelled.—Hence its adaptation to the culture of the cereals, to which the farmers are beginning to direct their attention. It was with surprise that we were informed that they were dependent upon other portions of the country, especially upon East Tennessee, for flour. There is no country better adapted for wheat, and no better water power can be found anywhere, for converting it into flour.
Buckwheat is cultivated very extensively, at the time of the visit, being in full bloom, the distant fields on the mountain tops presenting the appearance of a covering of snow. The yiedl is from 40 to 70 bushels per acre. While the valleys are give up almost exclusively to grass, the moutains are cultivated almost to their summits in corn and grain. No valley, however, small is permitted to grow up in thickets or weeds. Many of the worn-out hill-sides, however, are neglected and are being washed away by every rain, while the sowing of grass would produce as fine pasturage after a few years, as is to be found in the meadows. Judicious cultivation and grass after the soil is exhausted would keep these mountains in perpetual vigor.
The tobacco crop is the pride of Virginia. Every man has his patch of greater or less size, according to his means, and yet it was surprising to see such limited arrangements for curing the leaf. Its culture is well understood, judging from the appearance of the crop.
Although corn is cultivated extensively, yet it was diminutive in size. I am disposes to regard this soil as better adapted for the different grains than for corn, and believe that more would be gained by directed attention to the cultivation of such products, for which it may be suited, than to force it beyond its capabilities. For there are not in this soil the elements for maturing the Indian corn, while the same labor bestowed upon wheat and grass would more than doubly remunerate. But let it be borne in mind, that while such a change is advoated, it is not intended that only the valleys should be cultivated. The hills on the contrary are sometimes more fertile and more productive than the valleys; the forest growth on the summit of these elevated places clearly indicating the strength of the soil there; some of the highest mountains producing chestnut trees, measuring 25 feet in circumference, while the oaks and poplars are of like gigantic size. The natural growth of the forests are oak, chestnut, beech, hickory and walnut.
In many places are to be seen forests of crab apple trees, of large size and great height, heavily laden with their native fruit, a strong evidcence that this is naturally a fruit region. As an evidence of this it was only necessary to glace at the orchards to be found on every farm, at this season, freighted to their utmost capacity with choice golden fruit.
The climate is delightful, and with the exception on an occasional case of typhoid fever, sickness is scarcely known among the population; and this would be a stranger to them, were the proper precautions used in those habitations where it is accustomed to prevail.
The variety of freestone, sulphur and chalybeate waters, has already attracted visitors from abroad. Altogether this region is well adapted for sustaining a dense and thriving population. There are here all the elements necessary for the successful prosecution of the various industrial pursuits, whether connected with agriculture, or with manufacturing operations. Flour mills, copper smelters, wool factories, stemmeries and manufactories, could here find the material for successful operation, and ample water power for propelling the machinery.
All these sources of wealth still lie dormant, awaiting the wand of the monied magician to call them into existence.
The Geological Features of the Virginia Copper Region
Although embraced within the limits of the Primary System of rocks, yet the diversity of slates which compose this district, and the appearance of a granite upheaval in its very center, render its study very interesting, and its mineral prospects very important.
The series of rocks consist of granite, gneiss, olivine, greenstone, mica slates, hornblende slates, chlorite slates, talcose slates and quartz veins, in some of which are found beautiful crystals of garnet, tremolie, prehnite, actynolite, amathystine quartz, staurotide, tourmaline, rutile, and others, only of a mineralogical importance.
The regular series in whcih these strata occur, containing also two extensive deposits of mealliferous minerals, render this a very important region to the economist, as well as to the mineralogist. For in these strata are to be found veins of the ores of copper, hydrated oxide of iron, magnetic oxide of iron, lead with an important trace of silver, while some of the chlorite slates may be yet be found to the resting place of gold deposits.
By reference to the map, the order of the rock strata will at once be seen.
East of the Blue Ridge, along whose elevated crest runs the boundary line between the counties composing this district and those on the east, there is found a granite ledge coursing N.E.and S.W. This granite is very massive, and is quarried and worked up into millstones. Such is its compactness and suitableness for this purpose that I was informed by Col. M. D. Carter, of Patrick, near whose residence the ledge is found, that a pair of these millstones had been is constant use in his grist mill, on the waters of Dan River, for fifty years, and that they had worn away only six inches during that interval.
This granite presents the appearance of having been subjected to a lateral pressure at the time of its upheaval, for it overrides the succeeding strata of gneiss and syenitic granite. The dip of the gneiss rock varies from forty-five to eighty degrees, being most vertical nearest the granite. It is of a dark color, very compact and tough, and has a course N. 54 E.
Next in order of occurrence is found a thin stratum of soapstone, which, on account of its refractory nature, is used for heartstones and other purposes.
Then follows a narrow belt of micaceous and hornblendic slates, occupying the eastern declivity of Blue Ridge, and in which is deposited the ore of the Carter Copper Mine, near Danville Turnpike in Patrick County.
The crest of the Blue Ridge again presents the gneiss rock with olivine, and the large veins of quartz, imbedded in which are beautiful crystals of tourmaline. The course of the strata along this ridge is N. 45 E, dipping to the S.W. at an angle of 60.
This is again succeeded by a narrow strip of talcose slate blending into micaceous, chloritic and hornblendic slates, consitituting the eastern half of the copper region. In these strata is found the southern copper ode, reaching from the north-eastern part of Floyd to Ore Knob, in Alleghany county, North Carolina. Numerous quartz veins are to be found among these slates, some of which contain fragments of gossan, and may lea to the development of important copper mines beneath. Some of these quartz veins are very extensive, constituting immense ledges of a pure white color and very compact, their course partaking generally of that of the stratum through which it is injected.
In the midst of these slates, there occurs a limited stratum of gneiss, interstratified with a trappean rock and greenstone, in which are found the magnetic oxide of iron. Course N. 54 E and dip almost vertical.
These micaceaous slates, in the northern portion of the district, have a course N 54 E, whilst to the south in Alleghany and Ashe counties, North Carolina, they deflect at a greater angle to the west, partaking of an almost east and west course. At Ore Knob, for instance, the strata runs N. 70 E, while on Roane Creek, and as they approach Jefferson, they run N 85 E. Beyond Jefferson they are again turned towards the south, the lateral pressure which produced the uplifting of the strata, here impinging upon the granite upheaval in Grayson county.
With a narrow band of talcose slate, there next occurs the gneiss and olivine rock extending from Floyd through Carroll and into Grayson, where it is singularly ruptured by a protrusion of granite, around which it encircles and reunites at the termination of the granite in Ashe county. In this gneiss rock, possessing all the characteristics, in portions of its stratum, of a Trap rock, occurs the Trap or Native Lead, and it is called, consisting in the impregnation of the vein rock with particles of native copper, ranging in weight from one grain to five pounds. The vein rock is of a beautiful olive color, very dense, and filled with radiating crystals of tremolite of a greenish color.
Sometimes the particles are so finely disseminated through the rock that their existence is only proved by hammering it into dust, when they are aggregated and flattened into scales. In Carroll this gneiss stratum is one-half mile wide, dipping at an angle of 70 S.E., and running N 54 E. It surrounds, in Grayson, the upheaval of granite.
This upheaval adds interest to the geological and mineral character of this region. Beginning at Elk Creek, in Grayson county, it extends, gradually widening, a S.W. course into Ashe county, North Carolina, and terminates near the north fork of New River. The main portion of the granite upheaval is west of New River, its central action to all appearances being in Buck’s mountain, some five or six miles S.W. of Independence. From the most elevated summit in this range—Mount Lookout—there is a gradual descent, the altitude of the mountains north and south gradually diminishing towards the extremities of this upheaval. Near its edges the granite is found injected into the crevices of the slates. It presents an inclination to the S.E., apparently, as in Patrick, overriding the gneissoid rock on the west.
In Carroll, the gneiss and trappean rocks are skirted with a soapstone stratum, which, beginning near Greeneville, runs N. 54 E within two miles of Hillsville the county seat of Carroll; thence through Floyd, within two miles of the copper mines on the west fork of The extent of these coal measures is not yet fully ascertained. It is known that they exist in Montgomery county, near Christiansburg, and that they may be traced south-west through Pulaski and Wythe. They are of a bituminous nature, and in the future devolopment of this country will bear an important part. Their contiguity to the copper mines is an important fact, being distant from them not farther than thirty miles. Thus nature has been lavish of her stores, placing in close juxtaposition, inexhaustible mineral wealth and an abundant supply of coal to prepare it for market.
While, therefore, we may readily infer that the metamorphic slates were subjected to a strong lateral pressure, causing them to overlap each other at the time of that great volcanic action, when the elevated crest of the Blue Ridge was upheaved, so these limestones and shales, westward of the Iron mountain, were so lifted and depressed as to constitute folded strata, becoming less marked westwardly, till the last fold or depression forms the basin in which the Wythe and Montgomery coal fields are found. Among the metamorphic slates, the lateralpressure from the south-east broke up the continuous strata, and caused them to overlap each other, thus presenting a dip to the south-east, and a uniform course to the north-east. Whilst westward of the mountains, although the same upheaving and lateral pressure acted in a line parallel to the former, the limestone strata were simply folded in wavelike lines, the summit of each wave being denuded, and exposing a series of anticlinal and synelinal axes.
The relative position of these strata is readily seen by reference to the geological sections accompanying this “Visit.”
In view, then, of the discbveries of copper which have been found in the mica slates of this region, the question presents itself, Is this a true mineral region? As far as the geology of the district is concerned, it may be readily answered in the affirmative. De LaBeche in his Geological Observer states, that the most valuable mineral deposits of copper and tin are always regarded as belonging to those metamorphic slates which have suffered the greatest volcanic. action, and which are nearest to the primary rocks; and that it is customary for those engaged in mining to prefer certain rocks above others, as affording the most rehable indications. Now we have such a region in this Virginia Copper District. The existence of two granite upheavals, with the surrounding gneissoid and trappean rocks, stamps the metalliferous character of the lodes found in the adjacent mica slates. It is said that, “Mountains are the mothers of minerals,” and it is well verified in this district, the most valuable veins being found in those parts of the lead where there is the greatest altitude.
Mineral Wealth Of This Region. Description Of Its Leads. Northern Lead. Dalton Lead. Native Lead. Southern Lead.
Such being the geological character of this district, what deductions are we to make with reference to its mineral resources?
The most casual observer in passing over this district can scarcely fail to be struck with the peculiarity of the rock formations observable in certain localities. He will see a series of quartz veins, in some places composed of loose fragments scatt red profusely over the surface of the ground, in others the quartz-rock rising in large masses, each traceab e as far as the eye can reach. On tracing out these quartz veins, although they may disappear occasionally, yet he will find them to prevail over a large extent of country, and regularly interstratified with all the rock formations composing the district. It is, in fact, one of the prevailing rocks of the region.
In some of these quartz veins he will find fragments of oxide of iron filling the crevice, while in other localities the ore of iron will be found cropping out in large masses, and covering the surface of the ground. The iron ore will be of a porous character, and of various shades from red to yellow. On breaking some of the fragments, he will find some of the cavities filled with a greenish mineral, which the usual tests will reveal to him to be one of the ores of copper, and in regions where copper deposits may be supposed to exist, it will serve as a valuable surface indication of the lodes found beneath. This ore of iron is termed gossan,and was originally a combined sulphuret of iron and copper, but through the agency of the atmosphere and surface waters, it has been decomposed and sulphuric acid formed, which attacks the ore and produces sulphate of copper. This then is removed by leaching, the ore of iron being left of a spongy porous nature, forming a hydrated oxide of iron. The soluble ore of copper thus formed undergoes other changes, resulting in the formation of beds of carbonate and the various oxides, with sometimes chinks of metalilc copper, produced, as is done in an electrotype process, by the precipitation of copper from its ores.
A constant examination of such surface leads will induce him to set a greater value upon some than upon others. Thus he will find that the porous, high colored, light varities of gossan, and the quartzose gossan will invariaby lead to ore of a high per centage, while the compact, dark colored and heavy gossans and the schistose gossans are generally indicative of ores of a low per cent.
These so-called leads constitute the surface indication for the existence of copper veins.
There are three principal leads in this region from which some three or four others branch off, constituting lateral leads, though no less important than those from which they come. They are designated the Northern Lead, the Native or Trap Lead, and the Southern Lead. In connection with the northern Lead, there is the Dalton Lead and one or two others of no inconsiderable importance. What we would therefore designate as the Northern Lead is all that mineral region lying east of the Iron mountain, while in the same way the Southern Lead embraces all those immediately west of Blue Ridge. The Trap or Native Lead thus divides the Northern and Southern from each other.
In sinking a shaft either upon the Northern or Southern Leads, the position of the ores are found to occur in the following order: First, the gossan from the surface down from twenty to forty feet deep, dipping at an angle, varying from 40 to 70 degrees. Second, beneath which occur the oxides, red and black-not very abundant in some of these mines-together with the carbonates in seams in the gossan. Third, then follow; the lode consisting of the grey and black sulphurets-the upper vein or portion being invariably richer than the lower grey ores. Beneath these is fotind the niundic rock, the depth of which has not been ascertained, as no company has yet undertaken deep mining so as to reach the yellow ores. This mundic rock is a suiphuret of iron and copper of the same nature as the surface gossans.
The practised miner possesses two modes of ascertaining the quality of the ores he is lifting, by striping and by the green ftame. If he is working in a compact ore, the stroke of his pick will inipart a metallic lustre to the ore if it be rich-the best quabty of ores giving a stripe as brilliant as poliRhed brass-soon tarnishing and changing to blue. The second test is used for ores that are soft and friable. The miner inoistens it into a paste and places it upon the wick of his candle, while the depth of green tinge imparted to the flame indicates the richness of the ore.
History of the Discovery of Copper in this Region. Cooper Mining
During that intense excitement for copper which prevailed so extensively through the south in 1854, owing to the discoveries made at Ducktown, it was remembered by some that they had noticed singular appearances in some of the rocks of this region, and that the same difficulties had attended the smelting of iron from these ores, as had been experienced at Ducktown. Under such impressions, deepened by the appearance of individuals prospecting through the mountains, with hammer and test glass, an excitement was soon aroused in this region upon the same subject.
The first step was directed to the mining of the native metal found in the olive colored rocks constituting what is now. called the Native Lead. Here leases were made and work begun, but not meeting with any encouraging results, owing to the compactness of the rock, attention was soon turned to the gossan leads. Leases were made upon these for leagues by a few leading spirits, mostly from Tennessee, and in 1854 the Cranberry, the Bettie Baker, and the Toncrey mines were projected and opened.
In 1832 the Peach Bottom mine was opened by a company for its lead and silver, but soon passing into the yellow sulphuret of copper, and believing that no good would result from it, the works were suspended.
Outcropping over the Cook and Wistar lodes, and over the Great Outburst, are immense ledges of the hydrated oxide of iron, called gossan. Seventy years ago, it was supposed that this ore of iron could be smelted and converted into merchantable metal, and accordingly a furnace was erected on the waters of Chesnut Creek, and operations continued for several years. But. the metal would not weld, it was too brittle and fell into such disrepute among the blacksmiths of the country as led to its abandonment. A heap of slag from this old furnace lies near the ruins, the fragments of which, when broken open, present a beautiful cupreous appearance, like the matt, and would yield at least 5 per cent. of copper. The ironmonger, who erected this establishment, selected the ore from different localities, in the vain endeavor to find some that would not be so objectionable. The works have, for several years, been abandoned, and have almost gone to ruin.
The Toncray mine was formerly the Shelor or West Fork Furnace. ilere there are immense deposits of gossan, the crevices of which are filled with the green carbonate of copper, with which it is so highly impregnated that the metal run from it appears to be equal admixtures of iron and copper. “It has been worked for iron upwards of sixty years and is celebrated for the tenacity of the metal it makes. There are, at this time, castings in the neighborhood, made at the first blasting of this furnace.
“An anecdote is current about this old Furnace, which was related to me by Mr. Toncrey, himself. It runs thus -The former owner, Squire Shelor, some fifty years ago, feeling anxious to introduce his hollow-ware through the country, concluded to take a wagon load to a military training ground, where most of the planters, from many miles around, had gathered together. The squire arranged his kettles about his wagon, and commenced descanting upon the superiority of his ware over that of any other. This collected a crowd around him, and the great praise bestowed by him upon his kettics, the still greater roughness of their appearance, created great laughter which had the effect to call a still larger number to the scene, all of whom seemed disposed to have a little sport at the expense of the Squire and his hardware. This ebullition greatly irritated his honor, and he immediately commenced a violent cursing, which resulted in the throwing of the pots and pans violently against a stone heap, which, to the astonishment of the bystanders, and even the squire himself; would rebound high into the air, ring like a bell, and return to the earth unbroken. This wonderful phenomenon dumbfounded the whole assembly, who stood motionless with astonishment, when presently the whole body of spectators made a rush upon the squire, and, at a considerable advauce upon prices previously asked, bought him out, and to his entire satisfaction.
“At this time most of the car wheels running on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroads are made from this iron: their tenacity, there is no doubt, is owing to the copper contained in the iron.
“The outcrop of the Toncrey, is an immense body of gossan, under some eight feet of which lays a bed of brown hematite, varying from ten to twenty feet in thickness.”
These works continue in good repair, and for a small outlay the old iron furnace can be converted into a copper smelter. The gossan at this mine is similar to that at Ore Knob.
At Peach Bottom Creek, Grayson county, are found the ruins of the old Pine [Point] Hope Iron Forge and Furnace. The ore used to supply this furnace was obtained from the adjoining ridge, and is also highly impregnated with carbonate of copper. The same ill-success attended the smelting of this ore as elsewhere.
At the present howell mine, Franklin county, east of Jacksonville, the gossan was used some years ago for the manufacture of iron, but abandoned for the same reason.
And so at other places, all these facts tending to the discovery of the copper found beneath these iron ores. The testimony deduced from the examination of the Ducktown gossans, led to the conclusion that these iron ores were but surface indications of a more precious metal beneath them. This fact, forcing itself upon the minds of the community, led to the opening up of these immense beds of decomposed ores, and to the confirmation of the valuable metalliferous characte? of this region.
With this general description we proceed to a more particular account of each lead.
The Northern or Iron Lead
We designate, as one lead, all those found in the western portion of this district. There are several divisions, a few of which seem separate and distinct, showing no connection with each other, yet their occurrence was simultaneous, and it will be found that cross veins connect the several leading ones, adding increased value to this mineral district. Such cross veins have already been slightly developed in two instances.
The northern lead developes itself at Elk Knob, Ashe county, North Carolina, and there are sufficient connecting links on the line of this great lead, to show that it is a continuation of the Ducktown leads. Going north from Elk Knob we trace it to Meat Camp Mine on the northern branch of New River, 20 degrees east of north; thence passing into Virginia, it deflects more to the east, the course then being N. 450 E. In the western part of Grayson it is only observable in isolated localities, upon which no developments have been made. But on approaching New River the surface Indications increase rapidly inimportance, beyond which the gossan leads swell up into immense masses on the properties of Cook & Wistar, the Great Outburst of W. J. March, the properties of Yarnell & Co., the Limeberry and the Wilkerson. On entering the property of Cook & Wistar, the lead is found to possess four branches about two hundred yards apart, each of which may be traced to their union in the Great Outburst of W. J. March-a property of ten acres-through which it passes in one continuous line, but again subdivides about the centre of the Yarnell & Co. fifty acres, into two branches. Thus far the course of the leads has been N. 40o E., but in passing into the Wilkerson property, these two leads were so acted upon as to change their course, the western branch obtaining a course N. 25o E., while the eastern is again subdivided; the middle branch running N. 25o E., while the other bends Tound through the J. Limeberry, and reunites with the other in about half-a-mile. Thus continuing to the line between the J. Limeberry and the F. Limeberry, at or near the “Monkey Grave,” a reunion also takes place with the western brnnch, which has been traceable all the way through the M. Wilkerson property. Thus reunited in one lead, it continues uninterruptedly through the T. Blair property to Copperas Hill, on the banks of Crooked Creek, and another piece of property belonging to Cook & Wistar. The divisions and reunions of this lead are strongly developed for a distance of five miles, each division presenting equally valuable surface indications.
At Copperas Hill, another division takes place, the two branches running off nearly parallel N. 40o E. One arm constitutes the Dalton Hill Lead, along which to Reed Island Creek, about eight miles, there are several fine surface indications, but none comparable to those which are found on Dalton Hill, near the Wytheville Turnpike, and from which the lead takes its name.
The other arm constitutes the Northern or Iron Lead, traceable and finely developed as far as Big Reed Island Creek, a distance of 14 miles. Although no developments are made oa this lead south-west of the M. Vaughn property, about 4 miles from Copperas Hill, yet here and there indications are found, proving its existence. Developments are made on this lead through the properties of M. Vaughn, Kirkbride J. Shockley, M. Shockley, Early, Brown & Stevenson, Kincannon, Hale, and Bettie Baker, or Carter. Beyond the Bettie Baker mine no developments have been made along this lead, which is only traceable here and there through the western part of Floyd, until it reaches the north-west corner of that county, where it is slightly developed. The course throughout, although varying in some points, has generally been N. 54o E.—except in the north-eastern part of Floyd, where it deflects to N. 65° E.
Intermediate between the Dalton and the Iron Leads, is found another short lead branching off doubtless from the main lead, and there is a probability that several such cross leads may be found, seeming to connect together by a net-work, this great mineral region.
With this general description of the Northern Leads, we proceed more particularly to describe each mining property:
The Cook & Wistar property is embraced in three tracts, one of 200, a second of 400 acres, adjoining each other, and the third of 450 acres, containing the famous Copperas Hill. This property bns been well tested in all of the leads which pass through the southern tracts of 600 acres, affording ore of excellent quality, yielding as high as 35 per cent. No shaft has been sunk deeper than 35 feet, and no tunnel driven further than 40 feet. One of the gossan leads through this property my be estimated at 250 feet wide. We have already remarked that there were four leads traceable through it, all converging towards one point. Between these leads are mica and hornblende slates, which form the hanging wall of the shafts. The five tunnels driven in upon this property, and the five shafts fully establish its value.
The 450 acre tract, containing Copperas Hill, lies on Crooked Creek, about four miles farther along the lead. The developments made on the property, consist of two tunnels and one shaft, and from the outcropping of sulphuret of iron and copper, there is every reason to believe that it will justify still farther openings.
Then comes the Great Outburst Mining Company with their property of 10 acres. The property is of a triangular shape, and so situated that it possesses within its limited territory the union of all the leads coming from the Cook & Wistar. It takes its name from the great upheaval of gossan found capping the summit of this high ridge, and from which to the waters of Chesnut Creek, flowing at its base, is a precipitous descent of 300 feet. On this almost abrupt bluff Mr. W. J. March has driven in four tunnels across the mineral lode, and then followed it, excavating ores of a superior quality, the total drivage of tunnels being 306 feet. The vein is found to dip to the south-east at an angle of 50 degrees, but at one point it forms an arch, dipping also to the north-west with the same angle. A cross tunnel, run in at this point, shows the width of this vein to be not less than 30 feet. In driving these tunnels, several “horses” were encountered, but on passing beyond them, the ore was always found to be of a more superior quality. He began work on this property in 1856, and so far has shipped 300 tons of ore, ranging from 10 to 30 per cent., consisting principally of the bisulphuret, though at the time of the visit he had opened npon the red oxide in the cross-cut made from the main tunnel. The ore was found about 20 feet below the surface, and the width of the veins is supposed to be about 60 feet.
The Yarnell Mining Company owns 50 acres, adjoining the Great Outburst Mine on the northeast, besides having leases on the Limeberrys, the Wilkerson, and the T. Blair properties, all lying on the divisions and subdivisions of the lead.
The 50 acre tract, situated along the ridge leading from the Great Outburst Mine, presents large ledges of gossan.
A shaft has been sunk 100 feet deep on the lead, and a tunnel driven in 150 feet, from which ores of good quality were being removed when the property became a matter of litigatton, and an injunction issued stopping further operations. About 50 tons of the bisuiphuret of copper, averaging 12 per cent., has been shipped from this mine.
The M Wilkerson tract, of 450 acres, contains in its southern portion two branches of the lead, on which there are three air shafts of no considerable depth, connecting a tunnel of 200 feet, from which 50 tons of the bisulphuret of copper (blue ore,) averaging 12 per cent., has been taken and shipped to market. Work was commenced on this property in 1857. The ore was found about 20 feet below the surface.
Through the Jerry Limeberry, one branch of the lead may be traced, uniting with another just before passing into the F. Limeberry tract. The course of the lead here is N. 20o E. One shaft has been sunk on this property, from which the grey sulphuret was obtained, at a depth of eighteen feet.
The F. Limeberry contains the combined veins of the lead, on which six shafts have been sunk, yielding good ores of the several varieties. The “monkey grave,” as it is called, (but more properly the monger’s grave, from the iron monger who first opened it is on the line of this property, and was originally opened for its iron ores, in order to supply the old Forge located on Chestnut Creek. The remains of this forgo still stand, and the same ill-luck attended the manufacture of iron from the gossans at this place as elsewhere. The gossan lead continues for two miles through this property, and is an important one.
The T. Blair properly, of 300 acres, next succeeds, and is traversed throughout its entire length, for one and a-half miles by a single lead. It has but one shaft and one tunnel, from which ore of good quality was obtained. The surface of this property is very rugged, especially along Crooked Creek, the overhanging cliffs being 400 feet high. The ore takeu from the tunnel on the south side of this ridge consists of oxides and bisuiphurets, with indications of the yellow suiphuret, in the mundic rock. At the water’s edge, on the north side of the ridge, a small vein of yellow sulphuret was seen in the slate, a circumstance which should render the existence of this ore beneath the decomposed ores “a fixed fact.”
Opposite to this place, on the north side of Crooked Creek, rises Copperas Hill alluded to as belonging to the Cook & Wistar tract.
The country, which is very rugged south of this hill, now gradually subsides into less elevated ridges, along which no special surface indications are found until the M. Vaughn property is reached. The lead is here found to be N. 54o E., showing that at Copperas Hill, where it is N. 10o E., it bas deflected to the east. Between Copperas Hill and Vaughn’s property there is a distance of four miles.
This brings us to the properties of the Tennessee and Virginia Mining Co., consisting of the Ruggles tract; the Sarah Ellen mines, on the Vaughn tract; Ann Phipps, on the J. Shockley tract; Wild Cat, on the M.. Shockley tract; Cranberry and Fairmount mines, on the Early tract; besides the Davis and the Stone propeities on the Dalton Lead, embracing in all 2,200 acres.
This company was one of the first to enter upon the mining of copper in this district.
The Sarah Ellen was opened in 1856, and work is yet being actively pushed forward in its tunnels. At the southern portion of the tract, a tunnel has been driven in at right angles to fhe vein, which was thus reached at 100 feet, from whence it was carried north-east and south-west along the lode. The north-east branch has been driven 300 feet, exposing a vein of 40 feet with an unknown depth, the ores of which are soft and friable and easily mined. Each hand from this vein delivers two tons of ore per day upon the ore floors at the mouth of the adit. The blue ore found here is a sulphuret, being in these mines the lowest of the veins. The average per cent is 14. There are some two or three ventilating shafts let down upon the tunnel: the floors are dry and all the works in good condition.
Going to the south-west, along the vein, we find the same rich exposure, this south-west branch being driven in 250 feet. There are cross-cuts shewing the width of the vein, along which it is found to dip at an angle of 50 degrees. These cross-cuts, with the parallel tunnels, afford intervening walls, through which the lode passes, and which, when stoped out, will yield a handsome supply of ore. At the termination of these two tunnels there is quite a bold forehead of ore, there being no decrease either in width or depth of the lode.
Under the ore sheds were large heaps of ore awaiting the conipletion of the smelting furnace, as these mines have all suspended the transportation of ore, and are reserving them for the one now being erected near the Cranberry mines, an account of which may be found in another part of this “Visit.”
On the northern portion of this tract Mr. Heiskell has driven in a tunnel 450 feet in length. At 100 feet, the vein was struck, dipping 30o S. E., and thence for 200 feet one of the side walls of the vein has been stoped out, obtaining ore of a grey color and soft. By cross-cuts he has also ascertained the vein to be 30 feet wide. The average per cent. of the ore obtained from this portion of the tract is the same as that just described. Several tons were heaped up mider the ore sheds. In these mines I found a large force at work, and every thing carried forward with skill and energy. Up to this time the Sarah Ellen has shipped 300 tons of the blue suiphuret. The average depth of the lode beneath the surface of the ground is 40 feet, along which there has been driven about 1,000 feet of levels, with seven venhIating shafts, no one exceeding a greater depth than 40 feet, the total depths of shafting being l75 feet. The Vaughn property contains 700 acres, and runs one mile on the lead.
On the extrenie southern portion of this tract, Mr. Vaughn is also at work. Laboring under the inconvenience of having to deliver his ores by lifting through a shaft, he is, however, vigorously pushing forward his work, taking out ore of the same quality as that just described. One of his tunnels opens into the south-east branch alluded to above. lie has let down three shafts, each about 40 feet deep, connected by tunnels, along which he finds no decrease in the ore, either in width or depth. In addition to the blue ore lie had also opened upon bunches of the red oxide, which lay under the shed in an assorted heap.
Intervening between the Sarah Ellen mines and the Ann Phipps, on the J. Shockley tract, lies the Kirkbride property, of 327 acres, miming for one mile along the lead. It is worked by a different company, but as it occurs in regular order, it is deemed best to introduce an account of it at this place.
The name of this company is the Kirkbride Mining Co. The mine was opened during the present year (1859,) and conseqnently not much ore has been raised, the principal work, so far, having been directed towards opening the lode. The vein, where opened, is found to lie within ten feet of the surface, and more horizontal than any other vein in the district. The blue ore is raised from a vein from two to three feet in thickness. This company has shipped 30 tons of ore, averaging 14 per cent., the total drivage of levels amounting only to 40 feet, and the total depth of shafts 50 feet, no shaft heing deeper than 10 feet.
There is along the lead a heavy gossan outcrop, which would indicate more valuable results than have, as yet, been attained.
The Ann Phipps mine, on the J. Shockley tract, worked by the Tennessee and Virginia Mining Co., may be ranked as one of the most valuable properties examined, not only on account of its advantageous location for mining, but also for the depth, and width, and the richncss of the lode. Its ores present a beautiful display along the levels fully confirming the evidence of its wealth afforded in the surface indications. It lies on the lead inimediately adjoining the Kirkbride, along which it may be traced for three-fourths of a mile.
This mine was first opened in l855, and though there is work sufficient to keep a strong force constantly employed in raising ore, yet we found only a few hands at work, sinking a new shaft on the southern portion of the properly for the purpose of ventilating the levels. This efiected, there will be no obstacle to the continued success of this mine.
The gradual manner in which the lode sinks, below the surface, is well illustrated in this mine. In the preceding properties we had the blue ores near the surface. On this property they are reached on the southern portion, but disappear beneath the black and green ores along the northern portion of the lode. To give a correct representation of the surface of this property, it may be compared to a wave-like line, alternately hill and vale, there being four such undulations. From the north-east and south-west slopes of these knolls the ldde has been reached by tunnels, some of which are driven to the right and others to the left of the vein, so that the two walls are fully exposed at different points, presenting an entire width of not less than 20 feet, with a dip of 45 degrees to the south-east. At the mouth of one of the tunnels was a mass of red oxide, weighing not less than one ton, taken just from beneath the surface, and covered only by a light coat of gossan.
There has been shipped from this mine 300 tons of ore, averaging about 15 per cent., though the red oxides possessed a value of 30 per cent.
Only in a few places has the mundic rock been reached, and no attempt has been made to penetrate it, as a sufficient quantity of decomposed ores yet remain to afford vigorous mining for years to come.
The total drivage of levels amount to 1,000 feet, into which shafts have been sunk, the deepest not exceeding 30 feet, the total shafting being 150 feet.
In many places the floor, roof and walls consist of solid ore, the tunnel being driven immediately through the lode, while occasionally the floor is composed of the mundic rock.
The ores taken from this mine consist of the blue and black sulphurets, the green carbonate, and the red oxide, altogether averaging 15 per cent.
The Wild Cat mine is situated on the M. Shockley tract of 400 acres, being about one-half mile on the lead. This mine presents the same attractions as were seen in the Ann Phipps, though it is not so extensively developed. We found but one set of hands on this property, engaged in opening an adit on the southern portion, so as to drain the upper tunnels. This adit is being driven across the lode, and being below the mundic rock, has already begun to present indications of the existence of the yellow sulphuret. On Babbits Creek, another tunnel has been driven in some 200 feet across the lode, and just above the water level, for the purpose of exploring for the yellow sulphuret; and it has resulted in breaking in upon some small veins in the compact mica slate and quartzite. This fact is highly important, as establishing, without the shadow of a doubt, the existence of this ultima thule of copper mining also at this point.
The Wild Cat mine was first opened in 1855, since which time there have been shipped 300 tons, consisting of oxides, carbonates and bisulphurets, .averaing 14 per cent. The width of the mine is found to be 20 feet, its depth unknown, as nearly throughout the whole length of its levels the ore forms the floor. The greatest depth to which the mining his been carried does not exceed 40 feet, the vein itself being reached at a depth of 30 feet. The total drivage of levels amounts to 700 feet, and the total depth of shafts 250 feet, no shaft exceeding 40 feet.
As in the other mines, the ores are easily picked out, and the drifts being high above the water level, with one exception, the tunnels are not greatly troubled with an accumulation of water.
The Cranberry, mines, on the J. Early property, containing 100 acres, and extending one-half of a mile on the lead, was opened in 1854, and the work of mining pushed to a greater extent than on any other property. This property is composed of an elevated ridge, which rises like a crest, overlooking the Wytheville Turnpike, and well adapted to the tunnelling, to which it has been subjected. The total drivage of levels amounts to 800 feet, opening upon a mineral vein about 60 feet below the surface, and running N. 54° E. with a dip of 60 degrees to south-east. The entire vein, in all its length through this property, is estimated at not less than 10 feet thick and 25 feet wide. There are about nine shafts sunk on the lead, for ventilating mainly, their total depth being 250 feet, though the deepest only reaches 45 feet. Neither the depth nor the width of the mineral vein has been fully ascertained. Cross-cuts have been made from the main tunnels, and parallel levels dnven, but still along the mineral lode. The works on this property exhibit very markedly the order of superposition of the vanous ores of these mines. After penetrating through the gossan crust, which here is strongly deposited, the carbonates and oxides are found occupying the upper portion of the veins. To these succeed, in the second galleries, the decomposed bisulphurets or black ores, and in the lower gallery, the grey and blue hisulphurets, beneath which lies the mundic rock. These galleries are separated by thin floors of rock or of plank, and beautifully illustrate the system of mining in following the vein downward.
A deep shaft has been also sunk in the valley at the base of the ridge, and near the turnpike, which, after passing through a hard quartzose slate, opened upon a vein of the yellow sulphuret. This shaft, in our opinion, would have yielded handsome results, had it been located a few paces farther to the south. It also establishes the fact that below the mundic comes the yellow sulphuret in the vein rock, which would grow richer as the depth increased. A strong force is at work on this mine.
There have been 700 tons of ore shipped from this mine, consisting of the usual varieties of carbonates, oxides and sulphurets, and averaging 15 per cent. All the ores to be raised in future from these properties are to be reserved for the Baltimore and Cuba Smelting Furnace, now being erected near this mine.
The establishment of these smelting works is calculated to stimulate the mining operations to a degree heretofore unknown, and as by the new process of chemical decomposition, ores of one per cent. can be as easily treated as the richer, there will be nothing lost at these mines. I refer the reader to a description of the smelting works on another page.
The Fairmount mines, on the northern portion of this property, was opened in 1855, the vein being found to be 25 feet, and ouly 40 feet below the surface. The gossan indications are strongly marked, and the yield consists of ores of good quality being green carbonate and blue sulphuret. The total drivage of levels amounts to 700 feet, with a total depth of shafts of 150 feet.
Following the lead northwards, after passing the Fairmount, we come upon the property of Brown & Stevenson the waters of Little Reed Island Creek, on which we find a heavy gossan outcrop on the summit of the ridge, on the western side of which an exploring tunnel has been driven in 250 feet, the ore being reached about 60 feet beneath the surface of the ground. The falls on this creek are admirably adapted for any purpose of manufacturing or smelting. This tract is very advantageously situated for the delivery of the ores by railway on a descending grade from the mouth of the level to the ore floors.
The Kincannon property, adjoining, also affords the same good prospects, the testing which has been made on it resulting very favorably. There is no doubt that a tunneldriven in from the water level would develop strong lodes of the yellow sulphuret.
The F. L. Hale properties are next entered by the lead, the two embracing an area of more than 3,000 acres, the lead being tracable four miles through the tracts. Throughout their whole extent, the surface gossan indications are well marked, and exploring shafts have been sunk at various points with good results. On the northeast end of this property, and just adjoining the Bettie Baker mines, the Ann Eliza and Anna Mary mines have been opened, and successfully worked. These properties form a part of the mining lands of the Meigs County Tennessee & Virginia Mining Co., to whom also belongs the Bettie Baker mine, and the properties to the north-east on the northern lead, as well as the Toncrey, Weddle and Nowlin mines on the southern lead, and several proprties on the Native lead, in Carroll, said to embrace an area of 100,000 acres, along these three leads, and in a direct line on them of forty-seven miles.
The Anna Mary is supposed to be on a different vein from the Bettie Baker. It is, however, only 50 yards to the north of it, and may very properly be regarded as an offshoot from this great lead. We doubt not, when explorations are carried sufficiently far, this opinion will be satisfactorily established and add no little to the intrinsic value of this mining region. Cross veins, often richer than those from which they emanate, indicate the intensity of the volcanic action which produced them. In advancing the opinion, therefore, that these lateral veins are branches of the main lode, there is imparted an additionnal interest to this mining region. These branches sometimes strike off laterally and then again they are thrown upward from below.
The drivage of tunnels on the hale properties amounts to 300 feet, with a total depth of shafts of 200 feet. The greatest depth of any one shaft being 60 feet. These tunnels are driven to the centre of the ridge, both from the south-west slope and from the north-east. Seventy tons of ore, averaging 14 per cent, were shipped from these mines during the time they were in operation. A portion of the ore was very rich, consisting of the oxides and black smut ore, in which were found crystals, and occasionally large masses of native copper. One mass, lifted out of this bed of smut, weighed 100 pounds. The width of the vein is estimated at 20 feet, and is found 60 feet beneath the surface. This mine is only opened sufficiently to show that it possesses great attractions ; for if it opens so beautifully on the 300 feet developed, what must it not possess still deeper in the lode.
The Bettie Baker mine is entered on the side of the hill, opposite to the Hale mines. On this property is to be found the famous Paint Bank, from whence was obtained, for many years, ochreous iron for domestic purposes.
Here was done probably the first work in this mining region.
Entering the levels, opposite the Anna Mary mines, we pass in for 40 feet at right angles to the lode, where it is reached. It is then followed 300 feet, with some two or three cross-cuts and parallel drifts, exposing, throughout its entire length, a splendid view of the vein, from which the red and black oxides are mined; yielding 22 per cent. Since the first day of May last; 130 tons of 20 per cent ore has been taken out and shipped to Baltimore. Here, as in the Cranberry mines, the richer ores occupy the upper vein, while the poorer lie upon the mundic rock, beneath which no explorations have been made. When-ever a “horse” ‘intervenes, the ore beyond is found of richer quality and in greater quantity, justifying the conclusion that deep mining would here, as well as in the other mines, be productive of the most brilliant, results.
On the eastern side of the ridge, a tunnel has also been driven in with the same good results; while on a second hill, the old “paint bank,” extensive openings are found, being the original works on this property. Since 1854 there have been shipped from this mine 595 tons, mostly of the black ore, with an average of 16 per cent. The width of the vein increases to 30 feet, and depth unknown. The amount of drivage in tunnels is 800 feet, while no shafting of any consequence has been required. The lode has been reached from the slopes of the ridges, and the tunnels dnveu in along the lead.
Northward from the Bettie Baker, with an inclination of 54° to the east the vein may be traced to Big Reed Island Creek, through several properties belonging to this company. But as at the Bettie Baker it was found to tend downwards as it advanced north, it may be that deep mining would be required to reach the lode, in which case the ores would partake of a different yet richer character; and such an inference is sustained from the fact that on Big Reed Island Creek, on the Sutphan property, an exploung shaft has reached theyellow sulphuret. Here, then, is another point established, from which the owners of these properties may be fully assured of the inexhaustible nature of their mining propertieg. For when the decomposed ores are exhausted, a thing not likely to occur forinany years, then they have reached a basis of operations that will know of no limits.
Passing through the western part of Floyd, along the course of the lead, there are, as far as I could ascertain, no special indications, until the north-east corner is reached, where an outcropping of gossan occurs, which has been opened with a shaft by Mr. Howell, of Jacksonville, and with good results.
This is the extreme northern limit of this iron or northern lead. We have traced it from Elk Knob, N.C., into Virginia, through the counties of Grayson, Carroll and Floyd. Let us now retrace our steps to examine one of the lateral leads branching off from the main trunk, the gigantic character of which has much importance attached to it.
I have stated that the Dalton lead branched off from the northern lead at Copperas hill. Gradually diverging, at the Wytheville Turnpike it is nearly one mile to the east of the northei’n lead, there being found intermediate to the two a large quartz lead, assuming at some points a gossan character. The purity of this quartz and its associating slates, naturally suggest the idea of a gold-bearing vein, and we would not be surprised to hear of this precious metal being found in it. At any rate, it would be well for those interested to examine closely the gossan connected with it. For when there is gold or any other metal in the original sulphuret of iron and copper, that gave birth to the gossan, these metals would remain in the gossan, notwithstanding its decomposition and its conversion into an ore of iron.
Reasoning from the immense masses of gossan found upheaved for miles along this lead, and the ore obtained from those shafts and tunnels which were judiciously located, I would not hesitate to sciect the Dalton lead as one of great mineral value.
There have been only two properties developed upon this lead-the Stone property, belonging to the Tennessee & Virginia Mining Co., and Dalton Hill, belonging to Dalton Mining Co.
There was only one shaft opened on the Stone property as a prospecting shaft, which after passing through gossan and shtte, reached the vein, affording ore similar in every respect to that found on the iron lead.
But on Dalton Hill near the Wytheville Turnpike, there have been 30 shafts sunk, and 6 tunnels driven in from the side of the ridge; out of the whole number of which only two or three appear to have been judiciously located From two of them sunk to a depth of 50 feet, ore of good quality was raised, the vein being found to be about 25feet wide, yielding the blue and green ores, at a depth of 35 feet only below the surface. The total depth of shafting amounts to nearly 700 feet, and the total drivage of tunnels to 500 feet. Fine indications of the yellow suiphuret were observed in the tunnel on the north side of the ridge, at 80 feet from the surface, in a heavy quartz lode The width of this sulphuret vein was estimated to be 13 feet.
Had all the work bestowed on this property, been expended in running in two cross tunnels from the south side of the ridge, across the lodes, the upper to reach the decomposed ores and thA lower at the water level to strike the yellow sulphuret below the mundic rock, the intrinsic value of this mine would be inconceivable.
The property of the Dalton Mining Co. reaches to Reed Island Creek, along the whole length of which the lead may be traced.
Additional value is attached to this property from its proximity to the smelting works, erected at Cranberry mines.
We hope to learn that work has been re-commenced on this property at an early day, under the management of a skillful mifling captain; and we are convinced that the results will not disappoint the most sanguine expectations that can be entertained with reference to it.<p>
There is another lead, called the Jennings Lead, to the east of the Dalton, but as no explorations have been made on it, it was not particularly examined. It is moreover a quartz lead.
By referenence to the Geological Map, it will be seen that the Granite upheaval of Grayson county is surrounded by a gneiss and greenstone formation, which extends northward to Floyd county. This stratum affords the bed for the second great lead through this mining region, entirely different from that just described, and of such a character as to be properly designated the Native Lead. It is just such a formation as this that contains the mines of Lake Superior, a trap and gneissoid rock; hence the blocks of native copper obtained from these mines.
The Native, or as it is sometimes called Trap Lead, is about half a mile wide and may be traced for 16 miles. The series of rock strata consist of gneiss with quartz, crystals of native copper being minutely disseminated through the mass, and interstratifled with an olive colored rock resembling olivine, and with greenstone. The course of the strata is N. 54° E., changing to 70° towards its northern termination. Its inclination is S. E., varying from 40 degrees, to a position almost vertical towards its western limit.
Several openings have been made upon this lead, on lands formerly owned by John S. Sutphan, but now the property of Meigs county, Tennessee, & Virginia Mining Co. Work was begun early in 1854, since which time but little more has been done. Thirty-two tons of the native ore and vein rock were shipped to market, yet as it yielded only 8 per cent., of course it did not pay at that time. The rock thrown out from tlie shafts consisted of olivine and sandstone laminated with guciss, containing radiating crystals of tremolite, through which crystals of native copper were profusely distributed. The carbonates formed among them are due to the action of carbonic acid of the atmosphere upon the oxidized metal, and therefore does not exist to any great depth.
This is, without doubt, an important lead, independent of the value which may he attached to its proximity to the other mines of this region. It will require heavy work to open this lead, yet, when opened, it would be productive of valuable results. The inctal being disseminated through the vein rock, it would necessarily have to be subjected to the stamping process, by means of which the minute particles of copper may be aggregated together.
Although somewhat similar to the northern or iron lead in its general characteristics, the southern lead presents many points entirely different. Its gossan lead is not so uniform, as it is frequently replaced by a silicious and highly ferruginous stratum, even the mica slate itself partaking of this ferruginous character. It is, however, none the less valuable.
Situated in the southern portions of Floyd, Carroll and Grayson counties, Va., and in Alleghany county, N.C., it lies between the gneiss and greenstone of the native lead on the north, and the gneiss and olivine of the Blue Ridge on the south.
The slates, in which the lode occurs, are alternately horublende and mica, interstratified with immense ledges of pure white quartzite.
The mines which have been opened on this lead, are Ore Knob and Peach Bottom, in Alleghany county, N.C.; Hampton’s, Cox’s and Fulton’s, on Little River, in Grayson county, Va.; Whittmore mine in Carroll, and Hyltons, the Nowlin, Wedille and Toncrey mines in Floyd, and Howell’s mine in Franklin.
We are aware of the fact that some of these belong to lateral veins, but they all may be placed in the same great lead, and designated the Southern Lead. Some of these lateral leads run into the main one, as was observed with reference to the northern lead. This is, however, not so regular in its course as the northern lead In N.C. it possesses nearly an east and west course, but in Va. it strikes N. 45°E. till it reaches Floyd, when it deflects again towards the east, as it crosses thc Blue Ridge into Franklin county.
At Ore Knob, the surrounding slates are similar in every respect to those at Peach Bottom mine, 12 or 14 miles distant, except that there is also an abundant out-cropping of gossan, containing beautiflil crystals of carbonate of copper, and closely resembling that at Toncrey mine, in Floyd, and Howell mine, in Franklin. The surface indication at the Peach Bottom mine, on Elk Creek, is a decomposed mica slate, a rusty iron color pervalling its mass. The ore obtained beneath this is the undecomposed yellow sulphuret; whereas at the Ore Knob there is a heavy vein of decomposed ores lying above the mundic in which the yellow sulphuret is to be found.
Going north-west from the Peach Bottom mine, there are found several openings near the mouth of Little River, with gossan indications, tile gossan yielding crystals of the green carbonite of copper in its cavities as in that at Ore Knob. I must confess my inability, however, at present, owing to the ruggedness of the country, to locate the lead upon which they are situated. They present the appearance of belonging to the southern lead, yet they are to be found in a gneissoid rock, similiar to that of the native lead, and are also bounded on the east by a soapstone stratum, intervening, it seems, between this lead and the southern lead, and isolated; or they may be the continuation of the native lead, occurring under such circumstances as to afford the yellow sulphuret instead of the native copper.
I had learned of the existence of this gossan outcrop near the mouth of Little River, and observed similar indications on the road from Jefferson, before reaching the mouth of the North Fork of New River, both of which are doubtless a continuation of this new lead, occurring in the gneissoid rocks, and affording the yellow sulphuret of copper, but no decomposed ore. They are interesting localities, and their proximity to the gneiss and granite afford strong evidence in favor of their value.
Proceeding northward through Grayson, there is nothing to be seen until the Whitmore works, in Carroll, are approached. Here we find large masses of gossan out-cropping, near the waters of Snake Creek. The openings made in the ridge afforded fair evidence of the vein of ore to be found there, but it is not yet fully tested. Passing thence into Floyd, the surface indications become very important; and at the Toncrey mine, such is the quality of this hydmted oxide of iron, that for 70 years it was used to supply an iron establishment erected on the waters of West Fork. This has already been alluded to in a previous chapter.
From thence to the Howell mine, in Franklin county, the lead may be traced through the Blue Ridge, its course hence being N. 70° E.
With this general description of the lead, we proceed to consider its developments, as they occur, beginning at the southern extremity.
Ore Knob is in Alleghany county, N.C., and near the waters of Cranberry Creek. It is east of New River, distant about 6 miles, and consists of an elevated ridge, the crest of which runs N. 65° E., and as the vein is N. 60° E., it passes diagonally across its summit. The rock strata composing this ridge consist of hornblendic and micaceous shites, very compact, and interstratified with a talco-mica slate. The outcropping of gossan is very heavy, containing beautiful crystals upon a brown surface, throughout its cavities.
Extensive works have been constructed, 4 shafts having been sunk upon the lode, and a tunnel driven in across the vein at the water level. The upper shaft is 90 feet deep, the second 40, the third 30; and the fourth, half way down the declivity 40 feet from all of which ore of good quality and very abundant his been raised. The upper shaft was carried through solid beds of gossan to the depth of 70 feet before the lode was reached, while in the two lower, situated on the declivity 65 and 70 feet beneath the upper, the vein was reached at 24 feet, clearly showing the importance of working this mine by means of a level run in from the slope of the ridge, in these shafts the wall rock on the north side was flint, and on the south. hornblendic slate.
From this mine sufficient ore was shipped, during the time it was in operation, to realize $9,500, after paying the expenses of transportation. The first work was begun in 1855, and suspended in 1856, one-half of which time was employed in opening dead ground. When the lode was opened, a hand could raise 2 tons per day, the ore averaging 19 per cent. The width of the vein was not ascertained, though supposed to be not less than 20 feet. Large heaps of ore are yet lying exposed under the ore sheds, and scattered over the surface of the ground, which, though it would yield 10 per cent., was not considered of sufficient value to bear transportation. The ores consist of the red and black oxides, carbonates and the yellow sulphurets.
Effectual work was done while it was in operation, such as the construction of sheds, three whims, dwelling-houses and stables.
This mine is 63 miles from the nearest point on the railroad, and over a rough country, a fact which doubtless caused its suspension, for the ores certainly speak for themselves.
I regard the place as appropriately named, Ore Knob.
Another prospecting shaft has been let down on the south side of the knob, and with like good results.
The successful working of this mine demands the erection of furnaces, for which an abundant water power is afforded by Peak Creek near the base of the knob.
Pursuing a course N. 60° E. to the waters of Elk Creek, 14 miles distant, we come to another mine.
Peach Bottom mine was opened in 1832 for its lead and silver, known to be found here. But when, along with it the yellow suiphuret of copper turned up, it was regarded as worthless and was abandoned. Within the last twelve months, some of the original owners have renewed their leases and commenced operations for copper.*
Grayson C.H., Va., Oct. 31st, l859
Dr. R. O. CURREY:
Dear Sir -The information you desired may row reach you too late to be embodied in your Report, but be that as it may, I will give you such facts in regard to the discovery of copper in this region as have come to my knowledge. With the iron ore, and its admixture with copper, at the Toocrey works, formerly the Shelors, in Floyd county, and the fact that copper was known to exist there for many years past, seems to have been communicated to you, and therefore I shall say nothing in regard to that. The iron ore, or gossan, on the Iron Ridge, 5 miles north-east of this place, was first discovered in the year 1786, by the persons who subsequently erected iron works on chestnut creek, with a view to the manufacture of bar iron from it. They soon found, bowever, that the ore contained too much copper to make good bar iron, and they were obliged to procure more suitable ore for that purpose from other and more distant points; but until after the discovery of copper at Ducktown, they never dreamed that by sinking a shaft on their iron lead they would find a body of the oxide of copper. I had faith in it myself, and in the year 1857 proposed to Mr. John Blair, the owner of a part of the lands, to join him in a search for copper, but he had no faith in finding a copper mine, and declined my proposal.
I did not commence work at the Peach Bottom mine, in Ashe county, N.C., in search for lead, as you suppose. In the spring of 1832, Col. James Maxwell, who then claimed the land, brooght me a piece of slate rock, which he said, was something new to him, and asked me what it was, and whether it contained mineral of any valuable kind. I informed him at once that it was, copper, ant that in my judgment a valuable copper mine would be found at the depth of 80 or 100 feet. At his request I went and examined the place, and obtained a lease for 99 years, and commenced work with a few hands from the lead mines in Wythe, in the month of October, 1832. I continued my operation as long as I had a dollar, and until, by writing to gentlemen in most of the northern cities. I ascertained that the process of washing and smelting copper ores was not then understood in the United States. I had struck the sulphuret of copper at the depth of 57 feet froin the surface, had assayed it myself, and knew it to be good and paying ore, but for the want of means, and hands or miners, who understood mining for copper and preparing it for market, I was compelled to abandon the work, and did not commence work at that place again until about 12 months ago.
The piece of rock brought to me by Col. Maxwell, as above mentioned, was found at the bottom of the ditch he bad cot to convey the water to his mill, which you will remember, is yet standliig a short distance below where we have put up our machinery.
Our crushing mill is now in successful operation, grinding up from 70 to 100 tons of the rock containing the ore, per day, and with 20 hands we can wash and prepare for market 3 to 5 tons per day, worth, at present Baltimore prices, $135 per ton.<p>
I sent a sample of our ore, as we had washed it, to Mr. H. M’Kim, of Baltimore, who by letter of the 18th inst., informs me that the yield was 32 14/100 per cent copper, and worth $135 per ton.
I had forgot to say that the vein of argentiferons lead is still going down with the copper lode and becoming richer.
The works of the Baltimoreans, at the Cranberry mine, in Carroll, are now in operation, and successful in producing copper even beyond their own expectations.
I am, very truly,
P. S.—If I am not the first discoverer of copper in this region, I am unquestionably the first person that ever cut an adit or sunk a shaft in search of it.
The course of the lead here is N. 54° E. Two shafts have been let down upon the vein rock, both located on the side of the ridge, the upper being 66 feet and the other 30 feet deep. On a level with the mouth of the lower shaft, a tunnel has been driven in till it intersects with the upper shaft, and is then continued 50 feet along the vein. From the floor of this tunnel, an inclined shaft dipping at an angle along the vein, has been sunk for more than 30 feet, till it reaches a point opposite the second shaft, from which it is intended to connect the two together, and to run an adit to the surface. The width of the vein in the upper tunnel is 6 feet, and is found gradually to increase in value with the depth. The dip of the vein is 86°, a fact very favorable for mining, and indicative of the richness of the mineral lode.
In sinking these shafts there was found the following regular strattification After penetrating the surface decomposed slate, the hanging wall is composed of a dark hornblendic rock, very compact, beneath which lies the softer and lighter colored mica slate, 6 fect thick, interspersed with veilts ttnd pockets of sulphuret of copper. In this is sometimes interposed a hornblende containing copper, which is regarded as the “horse” of the mine, 6 inches thick; then follows a rotten slate, called by the miners seit’idye, from 1 to 4 inches thick, beneath which lies a stratum containing argentiferous lead ore, 6 inches thick; then follows a greenish semi-crystalline felspar, lying upon the foot wall of hornblende slate. Confident of success in the further developments of this mine, the company has erected very substantiaI works for crushing and washing the ores. This establishment is carried by the waters of Elk Creek, and runs two pair of fluted and four pair of smooth crushers. This being completed, a strong force will be put jato the mine, and work pushed foward vigorously. Should that success attend them, which every indication guaranties, there will arise an absolute necessity for a smelting furnace, still further to reduce the ores to a regulus before shipping to market, for which the waters of Elk Creek will afford ample power.
The lead on which this mine is located may be traced N.E. and S.W. from this point, along which other developments have been made, and with like good results, but leases having expired, the operations were suspended.
This lead may be regarded as belonging to the Southern or Toncrey lead, though some are disposed to regard it as being intermediate between it and the Native lead. The ruggedness of the country would not admit of its being traced throughout.
These ores have a greater resemblance to those of the Canton mine, Ga., than any that I have heretofore examined, especially in their association with ores of lead.
Going northward, three miles south of Independence, there are found excellent surface indications of gossan, on the property of Mrs. Austin, also at Mr. Fulton’s, three miles east of the old Pine Hope Furnace, on Peach Bottom Creek. This lead may be traced through Haywood Cox’s property, and through Andrew Hampton’s. On these properties, prospecting shafts have been opened, ftom which ores of different qualities were obtained. At Peach Bottom Creek, the ruins of the old Pine Hope Forge and Furnace are still to be seen, where, 60 years ago, the iron ores of this vicinity were converted into metal, but meeting with the same ill-success as at other places wherever this cupriferous gossan has been used, it was ultimately abandoned. Some of the gossan broken open at this place, contained beautiful crystals of carbonate of copper.
Passing thence N. 54° E., no opening has been made on the lead until the Whitmore mine is reached, 6 miles southeast of Hiliville, where it crosses the Volunteer Road. The rock strata here consists of talcose and mica slates, with imbedded garnets. The gossan lead is an important one, cropping out on the north-east declivity of a steep ridge. To these slates succeeds a heavy stratum of hornblendic slate, in which a vein of quartz and manganese is to be found, south of which comes another stratum of trappean rock, very compact, almost vertical, and fracturing into rhomboidal blocks.
Passing thence along the lead, there are no other developments in Carroll, though here and there the gossan indications are found well displayed.
Passing thence into Floyd county, we find the lead opened at the Hylton, Nowlin, Weddle, Bear Bed and Toncrey mines.
The Hylton mine is about 10 miles south of Jacksonville. It has been but recently opened, and so far presents a fair showing for ore.
The other properties just mentioned belong to the Meigs County, Tennessee & Virginia Mining Co. They embrace an area of 1,000 acres, extending along the lead about three miles.
Beginning with the Toncrey mine, although the most northern, we first notice the old and neglected iron furnace. Erected 70 years ago, as the Shelor Furnace, it was continued in blast until within a few years past. The copper contained in the gossan, rendered the iron unfit for ordinary purposes, and it was abandoned This furnace is driven by the waters of the West Fork of Little River, which affords abundant power at all seasons. The establishment is in good order, and, for a sum not exceeding $500, could be easily converted into a copper smelting furnace, as scarcely anything is to be done but to reconstruct the furnace, the blast and other machinery being in good condition. I have learned that a mason, who has been engaged at Ducktown in such work, offers to put the establishment in perfect order for that sum. Here are all the necessary ore floors, coal houses, blacksmith shops, &c so that with this small outlay these mines can be stimulated to their full extent in keeping it in operation. I am confident that these mines are capable at once of keeping two blast furnaces in constant operation, reducing each 10 ton per day. From the Toncrey mine, it is down grade to the furnace, distant one-fourth of a mile.
The Tonerey mine is six miles south-east of Jackson ville. Work was begun upon it in 1854, though nothing has been done towards excavating the ores for shipment, the work being mainly directed towards opening the mine. This has been effectually done. There is an immense outcropping of gossan on the surface of the ridge, which led to its use for the iron works, the depth of the iron ore reaching 30 feet. A shaft, which has been sunk through it, reaches the copper vein only 2 feet beneath it —that is at a depth of 32 feet below the surface. This gossan outcrop is 60 feet wide, and serves to indicate great width in the copper vein, which, on running in the tunnels, was found to be the case.
There are 2 tunnels driven in upon the vein., situated upen the declivty of the ridge. The lower tunnel is driven in from the north side S. 40° E., so as to cross the lead, which has a course N. 54° E. This tunnel reaches 245 feet, through a hard gneiss rock with quartz veins. Through the crevices of the quartz, there are found small elusters of native copper. Tile main object had in view in excavating this tunnel was to obtain a drift for the upper gallery, expecting too, that it would intersect the vein at a lower depth. The upper tunnel is situated about 70 feet above the lower, and has been driven in through gossan and vein rock to a depth of 300 feet. When this upper tunnel was first opened, it was injudiciously driven in too far to the left of the vein, but in carrying in a cross-cut to the right, about 40 feet from the entrance, the vein was reached at a distance of only 20 feet. It was then followed for 250 feet, through a soft talco-mica slate, several cross-cuts being run off to the right and left, so as to test the width of the vein. Throughout this whole length, the vein is traced without any intermission-increasing in richness and witlth as the depth descends. The cross-cuts and the tunnels, driven in parallel to the main drift, expose the vein in a most beautiful manner-the intervening partitions, which have never yet been stoped out, consisting of solid banks of ore, in all its varieties, but mostly the oxides and black sulphuret. As only 32 tons of ore have been shipped from this mine since it was first opened, and as the ores exist in such rich abundance all along its walls and roofs, it may be readily inferred that the company had but one object in view-to open their mine to its fullest extent before raising their ores. Consequently, they have been content to drive a tunnel of 6 feet width through a 30 foot vein, only bringing out such ore as they had necessarily to excavate in driving forward the tunnel. Thus they have exposed sometimes the centre of the vein; then by a cross-cut, they have run to its northern side; then by another, to the southern: and from each of these branches carrying along tunnels parallel with the main trunk. They have thus exposed this vein for 300 feet, proving it to be one of great depth, with a width of 30 feet, the dip being to the S.E., at an angle of 45 degrees. The average per cent of the ores raised is found to be 16. As soon as the lower tunnel is completed, and has effectually drained the upper, there will be no limit to the ores which may be excavated from its tunnels and chambers. In many of the mines these chambers are already formed by the continual raising of ores; here; however, the intervening partitions between the tunnels yet remain, and will afford, by stoping, an incalculable supply of rich ore. Leaving out of consideration the worthless tunnels run in upon the side of the hill, and only estimating those which have led to the vein, there is a drivage in levels of about 500 feet, into which three shafts are sunk, so as to ventilate the mines perfectly. Capt. Hanley regards this as being a cross vein, the main lead being to the south of it across the ridge. If so, it adds not only to the interest of this region, but to its value and permanence. The Nowlin mine is situated about two miles to the S. E. of the Toncrey, “across the ridge,” which is composed of a hard hornblendic rock. On it a shaft and tunnel have both been opened, the shaft being 60 feet deep and the tunnel 50 feet in length. The width of the mineral lode is estimated to be 60 feet, from which ores of good quality were raised. The gossan outcrop is still found to be large, and lies adjacent to a massive quartz lead. I obtained at this mine some fine, large specimens of magnetic oxide of iron.
The Weddle mine is opened three-fourths of a mile south of the Nowlin, being about three miles from the Toncrey, and ten miles fiom Jacksonville. From a shaft, 68 feet deep, and passing 30 feet through the gossan, ores of good quality, consisting of carbonates, oxides and smut ores, had been obtained, lying between walls of gneiss and mica slate. As it has been several years since work was carried on at this mine, I had no opportunity of examining anything beyond the rock to be found around the shaft. There are substantial buildings erected for ore floors and whims, and laborers’ houses, and the shaft is well timbered. The coutitry is not so favorable for mining as it is either at Toncrey or Nowlin, being more level, and consequently not admitting of tunnelling, unless at great expense.
The surface indications are very good, consisting of quartz and gossan.
To the north-east of these mines is the Bear Bed of Capt. Hanley, which I propose to desigmite as the Laurel mine. On a prospecting jaunt Capt. Hanley crept in underneath the thickly clustered laurel branches, through which the rays of the sun could scarcely penetrate, and found a bear bed, freshly made, and near to it a fine outcropping of gossan. The denseness of the laurel bushes has not admitted of any farther examination into the lead, but there is every reason to believe that it is the same with those just desen bed, being to the N.E. of the Toncrey mine.
Continuing the examination of this lead N. 54° E. from this interesting locality, it may be traced till it crosses the Blue Ridge into Franklin county, being immediately south of the soapstone stratum. Just as it passes into Franklin county, Mr. Howell, of Jacksonville,.has opened the lead, sinking a shaft about 40 feet through gossan and mica slate, and miming in a tunnel some 200 feet on the side of the ridge, with fine prospects for a valuable lode of ore. This gossan, like that at Toncrey and elsewhere on this lead, is highly impregnated with carbonate of copper. The heavy outcrops of gossan existing here had led to their use, in former years, for supplying an iron furnace and forge in their vicinity; but the same objection being had to the metal, that it would not weld, caused them to be abandoned.
Statistcs And General Remarks
Thus minutely we have described these important mineral leads, together with the mines opened on them, in this highly interesting mineral region.
In order, however, to present the facts and figures, deducible from the workings of these mines in as small compass as possible, I have gathered them together in the following statistical tables, which being obtained from the superintendents themselves, may be regarded as accurate.
Statistical Table of the Mines and Mining Operations in the Virginia Copper Region
Name of Mine When Opened Tons Shipped Ave. Percent Kind of Ore Width of Vein Total Drivage of tunnels Total depth of Shafts Depth beneath the surface Northern Lead Cook & Wistar 1856 5 30 Bi-sulph 30 ft. 150 ft. 150 ft. 20 ft. Cooperas Hill 1857 – – – – 50 ft. 20 ft. – Great Outburst 1856 300 14 Bi-sulph 60 ft 306 ft. – 20 ft. Yarnell Co. – 50 12 Bi-sulph 10 ft 150 ft. 100 ft. – Jerry Lineberry – – – – – – 18 ft. 10 ft. F. Lineberry – – – – – – 50 ft. 10 ft. M. Wilkerson 1857 50 12 Bi-sulph 20 ft. 200 ft. 60 ft. 20 ft. T. Blair 1857 – – Sulphuret – 50 ft. 30 ft. – Sarah Ellen 1856 300 14 Bi-sulph 30 ft. 1,000 ft. 175 ft. 10 ft. Kirkbride 1859 30 14 Bi-sulph 30 ft. 40 ft. 50 ft. 10 ft. Ann Phipps 1855 300 15 Blu & Gr. 20 ft. 1000 ft. 150 ft. 25 ft. Wild Cat 1855 300 14 Br. & Gray 20 ft. 700 ft. 150 ft. 30 ft. Cranberry 1854 700 15 Black 25 ft. 800 ft. 250 ft. 40 ft. Fairmount 1855 – – Blu & Gr. 26 ft. 700ft. 150 ft. 40 ft. Brown & Stevenson 1855 – – – – 250 ft. – 60 ft. Anna Eliza 1855 70 14 Black 20 ft. 300 ft. 60 ft. 60 ft. Bettie Baker 1854 595 16 Black 30 ft. 800 ft. 25 ft. 60 ft. Native Lead Native Lead 1853 – 8 Native 6 ft. – 25 ft 25ft Southern Lead Ore Knob, NC 1855 $9,500 19 Oxides 20 ft. – 210ft. 24 ft Peach Bottom, NC 1859 – – Sulphuret 6 ft 100 ft 96ft – Nowlin 1855 – – Black 60 ft 50ft – 50ft. Weddle 1855 – – Black 20 ft – 60ft. 60 ft. Toncrey 1854 32 16 Black 30 ft. 500 ft. 50 ft 50 ft. Dalton Lead Stone 1855 – – Bi-sulph. – – 20 ft. 20 ft. Dalton Hill 1855 – – Bi-sulph 25 ft. 500 ft. 700 ft. 45 ft
I regard the mineral resources of these mines as inexhaustible, and deserving of every facility that can be afforded them for their successful working and easy transportation to market. They have so far labored under great disadvantages. They have not altogether been managed with that skill which they merited and hence there has been in many instances a wasteful expenditure of labor and money. Many who have engaged in them, finding no speedy profits resulting therefrotn, have become disheartened, and abandoned work just at a moment when, probably a little more ]abor might have been crowned with success. There is necessarily such a heavy outlay to be made in breaking dead ground, and in making the necessary preparations for mining, that many become discouraged and sell out at a sacrifice to others, and thus lose the reward of their toil.
Moreover, had the compames entered earlier upon the construction of smelting works for reducing their own ores before shipment, enough would have been saved on the transportation, not only to have paid for the erection of the furnaces, but also to have left a snug little sum for dividends.
It is confidently believed that the importance of smelting has impressed itself upon the owners of these valuable mines. Nature has deposited her treasures in these mountain ranges, and by the side of them she has dugout the channels of the mountain streams, providing that power calculated to call forth man’s ingenuity and to develop his physical faculties, in the construction of furnaces and manufactones, while every hill and mountain top is burdened with gigantic forest trees for such industrial as well as domestic purposes.
In view of all the facts in the case, it is highly important that smelting furnaces be erected at the Toncrey mine, on the waters of the west fork of Little River; at the Bettie Baker, on that excellent waterfall of twelve feet in Big Reed Island Greek; at the Great Outburst, on the site of Blair’s old iron forge, where a cut-off has been made in the bend of Chestnut Creek, producing a fall of ten feet; at the Peach Bottom, on the waters of Elk Creek; and at Ore Knob, on Peak Creek. There is already an establishment about being finished at the Cranberry mine, on the new chemical process of Moniere, the success of which will stimulate this entire mineral region and prompt others to go and do likewise.
If the German blast or the Reverberatory furnace shouId be used, there is a fine soaapstone stratum running the entire length of the district, as indicated on the map, which would afford the best material that could be used for the jams and the hearth-stones.
A common German blast furnace, with two smelters, can be erected at a cost of $5,000, all complete, each of which will run out ten tons of ore per day, reducing 10 per cent. ores by one smelting, after having undergone two calcinings, to 40 per cent. m.att, which, after being roasted three times, and again run through the smelter, may be brought up to a standard of 90 per cent. regulus or black copper, with a clear profit on the entire process of 100 per cent. It costs no more to ship this regulus than it does 10 per cent ores.
For these processes, coal is an important article. The source fiom whence this can be obtained is amply sufficient for scores of years to come. Three cords of wood will produce 100 bushels of coal. Each acre of these mountains will cut 60 cords, so that we may estimate each acre as having upon it 2,000 bushels of coal. The cost of cutting each cord, coaling and hauling, will be about $1, or 3 ½ cents per bushel of coal, delivered at the coal house.
But suppose the supply of charcoal should fall short in the couse of time, then there are, tin the adjoining counties of Montgomery, Pulaski, and Wythe extensive beds of bituminous coal, distant only 30 miles from the centre of the copper region.
The outlet for these ores has heretofore been at Wytheville, at Max Meadows, and at Christiansburg, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, thence to Richmond. From Cranberry mines to Wytheville the distance is 24 miles; from the Great Outburst to Max Meadow’s 22 miles, at which ores are delivered by wagon at a cost of $7 per ton; from Betty Baker to Max Meadows 16 miles, ore being deliverred at $6 per ton; from Toncrey to Christiansburg 28 miles, ore being delivered at $8 per ton, and from Ore Knob, the distance is 63 miles to Wytheville, with a proportional increase on cost of transportation.
In the development of these mines, the entire southwestern portion of the State is deeply interested. The increase of population will necessarily stimulate the farmers to supply the increased demand for provisions—all the mechanical trades will be called into requisition—the commercial interests enhanced, and this entire region present a scene of industry and a realization of wealth heretofore unknown to it.