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Entries - Entry Category: Industries - Starting with S

Saltpeter Mining

Potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, is a naturally occurring mineral that is vital to the production of gunpowder. Found in limestone caves in the Arkansas Ozarks, it became one of the state’s most important chemical industries during the Civil War due to the Confederacy’s demand for arms. Although this resource was a definite advantage for the Confederacy, problems with labor, security, and transportation made Arkansas’s saltpeter mines an ultimate failure. Saltpeter deposits were known by early Arkansas settlers long before the Civil War in Madison, Searcy, Independence, Marion, and Newton counties. A geographical survey was conducted by Dale David Owens from 1857 to 1860. His findings were published in 1860, and, by 1862, the Confederacy, looking to arm itself for the …

Sand and Gravel Mining

aka: Gravel and Sand Mining
Sand is usually defined as an accumulation of mineral grains in sizes ranging from one-sixteenth to two millimeters. Sand normally consists predominantly of quartz grains of variable degrees of roundness. Other mineral grains within the sand size range are also present and typically consist of feldspar, chert, ilmenite, and other less abundant resistant minerals. Gravel is considered to be an unconsolidated mixture of rock fragments, pebbles, cobbles, and boulders of indefinite size, but always larger than sand-sized materials. Gravel normally consists of a mixture of rock types, depending upon the original source, and may consist of various quartz rock varieties, such as chert, sandstone, novaculite, agate, and milky vein quartz, as well as limestone, dolostone, and other resistant rock types. …

Silver Mining

The silver in Arkansas is mixed sulfide ores of lead, zinc, copper, and antimony in small, scattered deposits in parts of the southern and eastern Ouachita Mountains. Most of the known mining activity involving silver took place between 1840 and 1927 and rarely resulted in profit to owners and operators. Sale of claims or mines to unsuspecting investors was usually the only route to profit. The mines opened in the 1800s were shallow, reaching maximum depths of less than 200 feet. Most of the deposits where mining was undertaken are clustered in three groups. One is along Kellogg Creek in Pulaski County, north of the Arkansas River. Deposits in another group were clustered along tributaries near the confluence of the north …

Stave Mills

Stave mills produce the narrow strips of wood that compose the sides of barrels. Barrels were vital for the transportation of goods in the days before easily fabricated boxes and waterproof plastic containers. Stave mills were frequently established in areas where timber was being harvested so as to take advantage of the easy availability of needed resources. As such, they were an important component of local economies in Arkansas, with small towns in timber-producing areas possessing at least one, and larger cities with railroad connections often having several. Stave mills processed either hardwood—used to make “tight,” or waterproof, barrels—or softwood—used to make “slack” barrels, or those that were used for transporting dry goods and foodstuffs. Logs were cut near the …

Strawberry Industry

The strawberry industry arose in Arkansas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the advent of railroads made possible the profitable shipping of the fruit. For farmers, especially those who sell their crops locally, strawberries “kick off” the growing season because of their early ripening. By the time strawberry plants have stopped producing, other fruits and vegetables are ready to be brought to market, thus allowing a savvy grower to stagger crops throughout the summer and into fall. According to rough estimates, there are about 200 acres of strawberries in Arkansas. The short-lived peak market time of the strawberry originally prevented the fruit from getting a foothold in early Arkansas. Limited transportation meant poor-quality fruit at the stores …

Swine Industry

aka: Pig Industry
aka: Pork Industry
Swine (a.k.a. pigs, Sus scrofa) were first introduced into what is now Arkansas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. Since pork can be salted and smoked for preservation, many early settlers used pigs to supply their needs for meat and cooking fat (lard). The widespread production of pigs persisted until commercial refrigeration was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, pork became available from more remote sources, and production was more specialized and concentrated on fewer farms. In the mid-1970s, integration of pig production began to occur, with four corporations controlling most of the $84,148,000 of pig sales in 2007. The de Soto expedition had more than 700 pigs when the group was disbanded in …