Mining

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Entry Category: Mining

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 …

Tripoli Mining

Tripoli is a microcrystalline form of quartz (SiO2) that is derived by the alteration of chert, chalcedony, or novaculite, or leaching of highly siliceous limestones. The removal of carbonate is essential to the formation of Arkansas tripoli. Tripoli is present in three general areas of Arkansas: northwestern Arkansas near Rogers (Benton County), in the Ouachita Mountains near Hot Springs (Garland County), and near Athens (Howard County). Tripoli has varied uses. Due to its inert nature and its fine-grained texture, tripoli has numerous applications, mainly as an abrasive in polishing, buffing, and burnishing compounds; in scouring soaps and powders; a filler or extender in plastics, rubber, and sealants like caulks and epoxy resins; and a pigment in paints. It also improves …

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) was at one time the most powerful union in the United States. The union, which remains active in the twenty-first century, encouraged the development of the Arkansas State Federation of Labor. The UMWA was formed in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio, when Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 merged with the National Progressive Union of Miners and Mine Laborers. This combined union banned discrimination against any members based on race, national origin, or religion. By 1898, the UMWA had achieved improvements in wages and hours per week with mine operators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1898, the UMWA began organizing miners in western Arkansas. Arkansas became a part of District 21, and …

Vanadium Mining

Major deposits of vanadium were discovered in central Arkansas by Union Carbide’s Western Exploration Group in the 1960s. Vanadium orebodies are found in two isolated igneous intrusive complexes in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas: the Potash Sulphur Springs (now Wilson Springs) complex located in Garland County and the Magnet Cove complex in Hot Spring County. The Wilson Springs vanadium deposits were the first to be mined solely for vanadium in the United States. The major use of vanadium is as an alloying metal in iron and steel (ferroalloy). Small amounts of vanadium added to iron and steel significantly increase its strength, improve toughness and ductility, and reduce weight, making it suitable for structural and pipeline steel. Vanadium also increases high-temperature …

Washington Monument Marble Quarry

In 1833, the Washington National Monument Society was founded to create a memorial to the United States’ first president, George Washington. A year before a design contest for the memorial was announced, the society laid down guidelines: “Its material is intended to be wholly American, and to be of marble or granite brought from each State, that each State may participate in the glory of contributing in material as well as in funds to its construction.” Arkansas would ultimately donate three stone slabs to the Washington Monument in Washington DC, which was constructed intermittently from 1848 to 1888. The first stone, representing the state of Arkansas, was taken from a mountain in what was then Carroll County (now Newton County) …