Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Fluorspar History

 Our Fluorspar industry, we thought last year,(2012) was on its way back but once again the hope of that dream has faded into the background.  The old mining districts were busy with the activity of men and machines making test drills and plans for another new beginning.  Now the land lays idle once again with the earth holding on to its minerals.
  The J. Willis Crider Fluorspar Mill in 1958.  
Located at Mexico, Kentucky
In 1958 the county was still represented by only a few companies who where active.  But this would be short lived for the American mined fluorspar was fast being replaced with huge tonnage being imported from foreign lands, and which was produced by cheap foreign labor.  The fluorspar companies urged Congress to increase the present tariff and to put stronger restrictions on import products.  But they didn't respond and we lost the fluorspar industry.

One of the companies that was still in operation but on a small scale was the J. Willis Crider Fluorspar Mill that was located at the small community of Mexico, about 7 miles from Marion.  They were processing fluorspar and bariate for the general market.  They produced gravel fluorspar and only one shaft was operating for fluorspar and there were stripping operations going on for bariate ore.

 My father, Billie Travis, at this time was office manager, and superintendent of the operation.  This picture was made in 1958 with him standing in front some of the spar gravel. 

Many old gravel drive-ways and parking lots in the area were lined with this spar gravel.  Most all of it has been covered with asphalt or concrete over the years.  But once, long ago, it was fun to search for these small sparkly pieces of purple fluorspar that was found in the gravel.   They looked like tiny jewels.  I have many.

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