Well, maybe not gold, but possibly there might be silver.Â And why do I think that there might be silver inÂ the hillock that we so pretentiously call “our mountain?”Â Because I know for certain that there has been lead ore extracted from this area in the past, and I just learnedÂ recently on the Discovery Channel that silverÂ strikesÂ may occur in proximity to lead ore veins.
Here is a brief history of lead mining in the general area.Â The most prominent and successful mining operation in the area was under the auspices of the New York Zinc and Lead Company, which operated the Bear HillÂ Mining Property at George’s Creek in Bear Hill Hollow in the late 1800’s, however the mining of lead was first noted to occur in 1818.Â During the civil war, there were three lead ore smelters operating in a nearby township (which is now at the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake).Â The lead ore from this area was used primarily for bullets, which the area supplied to both the Union and Confederate armies throughout the Civil War.Â My neighbor’s ancestors conducted a very successful business at the time of the Civil War, called the Markle Cannon Foundry.Â They utilizedÂ the “Gillette Razor” methodology of doing business (sell the razor cheap, and profit from over-priced blade refills).Â This company donated cannons to both combatant armies during the civil war, and then profited handsomely by provisioning the armies with expensive cannon balls, which were produced, in part, with lead mined locally.
Lead mining occurred on and off during the ensuing years,Â but became active with the onset ofÂ WWI, and later, WWII.Â The last known commercial lead miningÂ in the area ceased operations in 1959.
In reviewing the Abstract of Title which we obtained as a result of our purchase of the property, we have found five instances of mining leases that were granted to mining concerns by the various owners of this land, spanning the period from the early-1800’s to the mid-1960’s.Â I have not been able to determine how much ore was extracted from this site, nor how long the mining was active, but I do know it occurred on this property.
This is a topographic view of a part of “our mountain.”Â You may recall the panoramic view from the mountain top, which is seen in the upper right part of the map above.Â In the upper left side of the map, notice the red line I have drawn.Â This line represents a ravine that cuts it’s way down one part of the slope, where lead ore has been extracted in the past.Â Today’s post will show what the upper portion of this ravine (and past mining locale) looks like.Â At the lower part of the red line, you can see the crossed pick-ax symbol that the USGS used to indicate the presence of a mining operation at the time the area was mapped.Â We will explore the lower portion of the ravine in a future post, when more leaves have fallen and the area becomes more conducive to photography.
This picture was taken at about the midway pointÂ of the mining area, looking up the ravine.Â Notice the rock outcroppings on the right.Â This is the result of the ore extraction process that occurred here.
This photograph shows a dry pond site at the top of the ravine, denoted on the topographic map as a red O.Â It was my initial belief, upon first seeing the dry pond, that it was an unsuccessful stock tank for cattle that at one time grazed a large, crescent-shaped pasture midway up the mountain.Â I have now come to believe that it was constructed to be a revetment, or containment pond, to prevent a deluge of water from cascading down the ravine during the thunderstorms that sometimes manage to avoid bypassing our property.
The erosion that has occurred in the exposed rock outcroppings has created small caverns at the base of the rocks.Â Although there was nothing in this hole at the time of this photograph, I am sure that it has been a shelter for some critters from time to time.
This is another rocky ledge in the upper ravine area that has been created by the mining activities of the past.Â One day, I would like to accompany someone trained in geology through this area, so that I can learn to understand what I am seeing in these outcroppings more fully.
This oak (?) tree appears to be growing directly out of the rock.Â Â I find it interesting to see how it grows horizontally, and then makes an abrupt 90 degree turn, again reaching for the sky.
So now you have seen the upper part of the ravine where lead ore extraction has occurred on this property.Â This might be the exact spot where I soon discover the “Mother Lode” silver ore vein on our land.Â If I do, I’ll keep you all posted.Â And then again, maybe not.Â But that’s how legends are born.