In the year 1922
To the region around Marion, in Crittenden County, America looks for its supply of fluorspar. To the average layman, fluorspar as such means nothing until he discovers that it has revolutionized the making of steel, that it enters into the manufacture of his pocketknife, his automobile, his watch and every article in common use which contains steel.
Where fluorine originates no one knows. It emanates somewhere deep in the earth's interior, it finds its way through volcanic channels, and in those few spots where it has been discovered, combines itself with calcium and becomes fluorspar.
Almost invariably, fluorspar is found in crevices of the earth - what geologists speak of as faults and runs in vertical veins.
As it has been said, the region around Marion supplies about 85 percent of all the fluorspar used in the United States. Although spar is found elsewhere, but such discoveries are in most cases merely of interest to the mineralogist and form no basis for commercial mining. This area, then, has a practical monopoly of the mining of the product.
This behind the scenes picture was made in 1926, and is from a booklet entitled "Mines Safety Inspection,". the description with the picture said, "general view taken from on top of #1 Tabb (Lafayette Mill) shaft house looking toward the Wheatcroft and May Helen mines." In the far right background, you can see some of the homes and the water tower of the Lafayette Heights community.
The railroad played an important part in transporting fluorspar from the area. It was loaded from the Lafayette Mill conveyor belt and hauled to the Marion Depot to be shipped to other locations up north.
The railroad and trestle in this photo was not visible from the highway, and it makes this a very special picture