North Carolina. Geological Survey (1891-1925) Missouri. Division of Geological Survey and Water.

Biennial report of the State Geologist online

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feet, according to the thickness of stone desired, and then fired by
a succession of light blasts, gradually increasing the charge.

The break thus caused begins on a plane almost parallel to the
surface, but gradually inclines upward with successive blasts until
it finally breaks out on the surface at a distance of one hundred
and fifty to two hundred feet from the center. In practice these
breaks are rarely forced out by blasting. The blasting is repeated
till the shell is judged, from experience, to be free almost to the
edges ; it is then left to break loose from the force of the strains
already induced, aided by successive expansions and contractions
by day and night. One or two days usually suffice to complete
the break and the stone is ready to be split into any desired shapes
by wedges. This is done by working inward from the margin,
gradually approaching the thickest portion at the center.

Plate X shows the character of the stone and how these great
'•shells'' are worked up; Plate XI shows the general quarry surface
and the . arrangement of steam derricks and the trolley system of
wire ropes for moving the stone from various parts of the hill-side
to the platform at the foot of the hill, where it is loaded on the cars
of the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley railway. It will be seen that
the thickness gradually diminishes from the center of the loosened
disk to the circumference, but in dimension stone of ordinary sizes

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this variation can scarcely be detected. The increase in thickness
is usually one-half to three-quarters of an inch or less to the foot,
and by making the longest dimension at right angles to the radius
of the disk a minimum variation is secured.

Almost the only waste in this method is at the thin edges, and

the amount is very small compared with that of ordinary methods

of quarrying. The stone is gathered up from various parts of the

quarry and loaded on the cars by a set of tackle blocks mounted

on a trolley. The largest blocks shipped weighed seventeen tons,

but obviously any practicable sizes are obtainable, the limits

being regulated only by the limits of the capacity for handling and

transporting. There is no stripping and no loss from sap, the

thickness of discolored stone not being more than an inch, and

frequently less. A typical block of this granite is exhibited in

the State Museum.


A talcose gneiss is found at Taylorsville and has been used in
the construction of a two-story building at that place. In the
quarry the material is quite soft and is easily worked into any
shape or size with old axes and saws, but on exposure it hardens
considerably and makes a very substantial wall. The color is
a brownish-red very similar to the brownstone of the Triassic
region, but being schistose it is somew4iat streaked. The build-
ing erected two years ago is perfectly intact and the chimneys of
the same material built, twenty-five years ago show no serious
disintegration. It is considered fire-proof and locally is much
used for hearths and fire-place linings. The building referred to
was built of stone quarried on R. Z. Linney's land within a half
mile of the town of Taylorsville. '


Limestone occurs in North Carolina at a number of different
localities and in a variety of forms. In the south-eastern counties
it is found in many places in an uncompacted condition resembling
marl; in many other places it occurs in the form commonly
known as shell-rock, as may be seen at a number of points on the

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North-east Cape Fear, Trent and other rivers. At still other places
it occurs in the form of a fairly compact, fine-grained limestone
rock, which contains, scattered through it here and there, more or
less distinctly preserved shells, and this form, frequently in the
same locality, changes to a typical shell-rock.

Shell limestone abounds in nearly horizontal beds in the
coastal plain formations of several eastern counties, but it has been
very little used as yet. It is quarried with great facility and
hardens sufficiently on exposure to the air to become a very serv-
iceable and durable stone for rough, massive work.

A shell-rock, which in places is a fairly compact limestone,
and has been extensively used for harbor improvements about Wil-
mington, is found on the North-east Cape Fear river opposite
Rocky Point and owned by Messrs. French Brothers. It is over-
laid by one to five feet of soil and marl and has been worked over
an area of a number of acres. This stone is also used for burning
an excellent grade of agricultural lime, and in places contains
small iiodules of phosphate of lime.

The Trent River Shell-rock, located on Trent river, in
Craven county, is a somewhat open shell-rock, used locally for
rough building purposes and foundation walls. An excellent
illustration of the possibilities of this stone is seen in the walls
and arched gate-way of the city cemetery at Newbern, which are
built of it (Plate XII). The stone is composed of medium to large
size shells, with an admixture of sand, and the whole cemented
together with carbonate of lime. It is a durable material, and I
see no reason why it should not be used in the walls of larger
buildings. It can be quarried and brought to Newbern on flats.

The shell-rock at this place, and that which occurs at Castle
Haynes, Rocky Point, and other places on the river, can be used to
considerable advantage in macadamizing the streets and public
roads in these eastern counties, as may be seen in some of the
streets of Newbern and (loldsboro paved in this way.

There are several localities in the midland and piedmont counties
where there are limited deposits of a semi-crystalline limestone, —
notably, those near (jermantown, along the limestone belt which
passes through Catawba, Lincoln and Gaston counties, and at

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Turkey Cove, McDowell county. The limestoue at this latter
place, like that which occurs in the south-western counties of the
State, may be properly considered a marble.


This body of marble, ten miles north of Marion, McDoWell
county, has been examined over an area of several hundred acres
and has a thickness of more than twelve hundred feet. The beds
dip at an angle of about 45° in a south-easterly direction into the
north slope of Graveyard mountain. The marble is a fine-grained,
compact dolomite, the color being usually nearly white, though
in places it is distinctly blue, and a part of this blue marble is
somewhat mottled. The general composition of the stone is shown
by the following analyses :



Silica (SiOa) .60 1.40

Oxides of iron and aluminum 70 70

Lime(CaO) 30.29 29.23

Magnesia (MgO) 21.22 19.58

These analyses show the stone to be a dolomite marble, con-
aining, in the case of the white marble, 54.10 per cent, of carbon-
ate of lime (CaC03), and 44.56 per cent, of the carbonate of
magnesia (MgCOs). The silica (Si02) and the oxide of iron (Fe203)
are present in quantities too small to deserve further consideration.
In a few specimens, however, the percentage of silica was found
to be somewhat larger. A considerable portion of the stone has
been seamed and broken in connection with the dynamic changes
which have occurred in the geologic history of this region, and
this has greatly decreased its value as a building or ornamental
stone. But the purity of the stone and its freedom from injurious
ingredients will permit of this broken portion being extensively
used in the manufacture of lime and cement. A large portion of
the marble, as shown by the drill borings conducted under the

♦Analysis by F. P. Venable, from diamond drill borings, made by N. C. Geological Survey.
fAnalysisby W. B. Phillips, Bull. 1, N. C. (Geological Survey, 1893, p. 233.

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supervision of the Survey, is geuerally free from these fractures
and gashes, and is well adapted for use as a building or orna-
mental stone.


There are considerable beds of marble occurring in Cherokee
county and in that part of Swain county along the Nantahala
river east of the Red Marble gap, and during the past few years
these have attracted considerable attention. .

The Nantahala marbles are exposed along the steep slopes of
the mountain gorge on both sides of the Nantahala river, both
above and below Hewitt station on the Western North Carolina
railroad. The marble varies in color from nearly white to pink
or flesh color and a deep bluish-gray. It is fine-grained and coixi-
pact, and has been quarried to a limited extent. Two companies
have been organized for the purpose of working these deposits on
a larger scale.

In Cherokee county there are two or inore belts of marble which
appear in the south-western part of the county and extend in a
general north-easterly course by way of Murphy and up the Val-
ley river to the Red Marble gap ; another parallel belt lying to the
east crosses the Hiwassee river near Brasstown.
^ The Culberson Quarry, on the Marietta & North Georgia rail-
road, 11 or 12 miles south-west of Murph}^ and the Kinsev Quarry
on the same railroad, five miles south-west of Murphy, have both
been opened up during the past two years (1891-92) on one of
these marble belts. The stone at both these quarries is of a light
gray color of fairly fine-grained and uniform texture. Its compo-
sition is shown by the following analyses. No. 1 being made from
a sample from the Kinsev quarry, and No. 2 from a sample
taken at the Culberson quarry :


0) (2)

Silica 2.93 1.20

Oxides of iron and aluminum 1.17 .82

Lime (CaO) 49.8;{ 52.90

Magnesia (MgO) 3.(il 1.91

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The marble of these belts outcrops at a number of places
between the Kinsey quarry and Murphy, and between Murphy
and Red Marble gap, its color and general characteristics vary-
ing at dijfferent places. At the two following points, as shown by
the analyses given below, it is dolomitic in composition:

At the Hays Place, near Tomotla station on the Western North
Carolina railroad, 5J miles north-east of Murphy, the marble is
uearly white in color, but too much broken to be available as a.
building or monumental stone.

At the HiCKERSON Place, 14J miles north-east of Murphy, and
near Andrews station on the Western North Carolina railroad, the
marble is nearly white in color, fine-grained, and is of a fairly uni-
form texture. It has been bored into with a drill at several differ-
ent places, and was found to be sufficiently solid and free from
breaks and gashes to make it well suited for architectural pur-
poses. And quarr}' developments may be expected here in the
near future. The composition of the marble at this point and at
the Hays place is show^n by the following analyses:


(1) (2)

Silica 92 1.58

Oxides of iron and aluminum 1.20 1.90

Lime (CaO) 32.80 32.42

Magnesia (MgO) 15.43 19.58

Near Andrews station occurs a peculiar form of checked marble
bluish-gray and white in color, the extent of which is unknown.
A sample of it may be seen in the State Museum.

The outcrop of marble in the eastern part of Cherokee county,
near Brasstown, is worthy of further examination. The stone is
nearly white in color, of fairly uniform texture, and appears to be
fairly free from breaks and gashes.


A few notes are here appended on slate, serpentine, quartz-
porphyry, quartzite and soapstone.


Very little has been said or known of North Carolina slates,
and no systematic examination of them, from an economic point

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of view, has been made. The following information was gathered
by personal investigation of a few localities.

In Chatham county, three miles north-west of Egypt, on Robert
Burns' place, is a compact blue clay slate, exposed for a hundred
yards in a gulW on the hill-side. It is quite fissile, sheets of the
thickness of ordinary roofing slate and eighteen inches square hav
ingbeen split out near the surface. No prospecting of any conse-
quence has been done, and no confident assertion as to its value
can be made. The cleavage plane dips 75° north 20° west.

Three miles west of Goldston, on Hugh Womble's place, is a
slate of the same nature, but with cleavage less highly developed.
It is used for chimneys and foundations in the surrounding coun-
try on account of the ease with which it splits into slabs and
blocks. It would doubtless prove suitable for flagging, mantels,
and other work requiring slabs, though hardly fissile enough for

On Rocky river, south-west of Pittsboro, and four miles above its
junction with Deep river, near the mouth of Bear creek, is a hard
blue siliceous slate, which splits well into large sheets on the out-
crop, though not thin enough for roofing. The outcrop was traced
up the branch for three-fourths of a mile, and numerous broad
sheets were seen, which had been split off by the action of the water.
The cleavage planes dip 75° south 13° east. It is the property of
the Deep River Navigation Company.

In the southern edge of the county, near Fair Haven, is a hard
siliceous slate of steel gray to almost black color, and having a clear,
metallic ring on being struck with a hammer. A shallow ditch has
been sunk across the outcrop, and blocks from near the surface are
easily split into large thin sheets, well adapted to roofing purposes.
The outcrop can be traced for a considerable distance on the prop-
erty of George Snow, of Raleigh, and that of C. H. Womble, of
Fair Haven.

In Stanly county, six miles esrst of Albemarle, is a dark bluish
roofing slate, which is quite compact and siliceous and has a clear,
metallic ring. It splits well into sheets with perfect planes, and
small quantities from the prospect openings have been shaped into

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roofing of small and medium sizes. Large specimens of this slate
are in the State Museum.

Two openings about one-fourth of a mile apart along the out-
crop in the direction of the strike, and ten or twelve feet deep,
have been made for testing its quality. It was found to work
equally well in the two places, with small w^aste, notwithstanding
the fact of its being near the surface. The dip of the cleavage in
one opening is 77^ north 26^ west, in the other 67° north 46° west.
The smallest blocks could be almost entirely utilized for the
smaller sizes of roofing, while the larger sizes could apparently be
obtained in considerable quantities. Sheets measuring tw^o by
three feet were taken from both openings.


In Buncombe county, near Alexander station on the Western
Xorth Carolina railroad, are found numerous masses of mottled
greenish-yellow to dark green serpentine. Small polished speci-
mens from this locality may be seen in the State Museum. A belt
of disconnected outcrops has been traced from near Leicester on
New Found creek north-eastward across the French Broad river
about a mile above Alexander, and up Reams creek nearly to
Weaverville. Many of these masses are large and the quality of
the stone is undoubtedly equal in every particular to that of Penn-
sylvania and Maryland, which is extensively used for building.
• Although soft and easily worked, serpentine is quite tough and re-
sists weathering well. These properties, as well as the unique
color effects, are w^ell illustrated in several churches in Philadel-
phia and Baltimore which are constructed entirely of this stone.
For interior ornamental work polished serpentine is a stone of
great beauty and very desirable w^here not subjected to wear. No
North Carolina serpentine has yet been quarried for building pur-
poses, but it wnll doubtless come into demand in the near future.

In Madison county, on Paint Fork of Ivy river and in the
continuation of the same belt, are numerous outcrops of serpentine
which are doubtless as good as that in Buncombe county, though
now too far from the railroads to be of any immediate importance.

Good specimens of serpentine are in the State Museum from

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Caldwell county, near Patterson. It is a dark rich green variety,
almost black and marked by very small veins of silky chrysotile.
It takes a fine polish and is well adapted to interior decorative

Greenish-gray serpentine, mottled with greenish and whitish
chrysotile, occurs in the Baker mine, in this county, along with
the coarse, fibrous variety known as picrolite.

A pale green, massive variety, mottled with yellowish veins and
patches and irregular seams and grains of magnetite, occurs in
Wake county fourteen miles north-west of Raleigh, on Barton creek,
in a ledge which outcrops for several hundred yards. Several
specimens of this stone have been placed in the State Museum.


In Mecklenburg county, a mile and a half east of Charlotte,
there occurs a quartz-porphyry with very peculiar manganese
markings in a vertical dike ten to fifteen feet thick and traceable
on the surfaces for half a mile. Mr. Merrill* describes this stone
as ^^a very light-colored, almost white, quartz-porphyry, which is
penetrated by long parallel streaks of a d.ead black color. These
are so arranged that, when cut across, the surface appears studded
thickly with roundish and very irregular black points of all sizes
up to half an inch in diameter. Cut parallel with the direction
of the pencils, the surface is streaked with black lines, which
sometimes assume beautiful fern-like or dendritic forms.

*^The rock is intensely hard, tough and without definite rift.
It can therefore be worked only at great cost and is not regularly

The peculiar marking is said to decrease and finally disappear
as the dike is traced northward. The stone takes a good polish
and could be used with beautiful eff*ect in inlaid work, but it is too
brittle for carving. Several rough and polished specimens of this
stone, and a small carved figure of a leopard, are exhibited in the
State Museum.


Near Mooresville, Iredell county, a very peculiar mottled quartzite
is found. It is of a deep brownish-red color, streaked and spotted

♦stones for Building and Decoration, pages 220 and 221.

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with white, and gives a very pleasing effect on polished surfaces.
The great difficulty of working it into ordinary dimension stones
would limit its application, but for some ornamental purposes it
would seem to be very desirable.


Talcose rocks of the ordinary gray and bluish varieties, the only
kinds used for any sort of building purposes, are found abundantly
in the crystalline rocks of many counties of the State. They have
been used in most of these regions for fire-places, chimneys, founda-
tions of wooden houses and tombstones, but have nowhere been regu-
larly quarried. Several of these places were visited, but not enough
work had been done to show the quantity or quality of the stone
at many of them. Hence little more than an incomplete list of
localities can be given here. It is everywhere worked with axes
and saws, and the ease with which it is cut is doubtless the chief
reason for its very general local use.

The following are some of the localities wiiere ordinary soap-
stone has been noted: Near Burlington, Alamance county; in
Alleghany county, twelve miles north-east of Sparta, near Enniss
post-office; on the eastern flank of Elk ridge, six to eight miles
south-west of Jefferson, Ashe county — once extensively used by
the Ore Knob Copper Company for furnace linings; in Watauga
county, on the southern slope of Elk Knob and also near Cook's
gap; in (Juilford county, four miles from Greensboro, near James-
town. The peculiar talcose gneiss of Taylorsville, Alexander
county, is described above (page 95).

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The following is a list of the specimens of building and orna-
mental stone now in the geological collection of the State Museum
at Raleigh. The majority of these specimens are in the form of
eight-inch cubes, which have one face polished and other faces
dressed in different styles to show the working qualities of the
stone. The collection is by no means complete, and it is desired
to add to it specimens from all portions of the State, where build-
ing and ornamental stone occurs and which are not already repre-
sented. Persons who are willing to add specimens from other local-
ities are invited to correspond concerning the matter with the State
Geologist at Raleigh. All specimens sent to the Museum in the
rough should be in sizes not less than ten inches cube. In the list
given below the names of the county and locality and of the donor
are given, when these are known:

Sandstone — Anson county.

Color light brown; grain fine.
Sandstone — Moore county.

Color chocolate-brown; grain fine.
Sandstone— Moore county.

Color chocolate-brown; grain fine.
Sandstone — Moore county.

Color light gray; grain medium fine.
Sandstone — Sanford, Moore county.

Color brownish-gray; grain medium fine.
Sandstone— Rackle & Lawrence quarry; Sanford, Moore county.

Color light brown; grain fine.
Sandstone— Rackle & Lawrence quarry (J. M. Wicker); Sanford, Moore county.

Color medium brown; grain medium.
Sandstone — Co-operativeBrownstone Company's quarry; Sanford, Moore county.

Color light brown; grain fine.
Sandstone— Carolina Brownstone Company's quarry; Sanford, Moore county.

Color chocolate; grain fine.
Sandstone — Gulf, Chatham county.

Color light gray; grain medium.


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Sandstone — Gulf, Chatham county.

Color yellowish -gray; grain medium.
Sandstone — Gulf, Chatham county.

Color yellowish ; grain coarse.
Sandstone — ^Taylor's quarry; 'Chatham county.

Color light brown; grain fine.
Sandstone — Phil. Taylor's quarry; Chatham county.

Color brown; grain medium.
Sandstone — Egypt, Chatham county.

Color gray-brown; grain medium fine.
Sandstone— Duke's quarry; Durham, Durham county.

Color light brownish-gray; grain medium fine.
Sandstone — Brassfield (?); Durham county.

Color light brown; grain fine.
Granite — Warrenton (?), Warren county.

Color very light gray; grain fine.
Granite, Porphyritic— Lilesville, Anson county.

Color mottled pink, olive green and black; grain coarse crystalline.
Granite, Biotite— Roles vi lie, Wake county.

Color grayish-pink or flesh; grain medium.
Granite — Contentnea creek, Wilson county; P. Linehan.

Color red; grain coarse.
Granite— Cabarrus county.

Color pink; grain fine.
Granite, Biotite — Mooresville, Iredell county.

Color light gray; grain fine.
Granite, Biotite — Mooresville, Iredell county.

Color steel gray; grain fine.
Granite — Dunn's mountain, Rowan county; John L. Boyden.

Color light gray; grain medium fine.
Granite— Dunn's mountain. Rowan county; John L. Boyden.

Color light pink; grain medium fine.
Granite "Orbicular" — Coolomee, Davie county; Frank Hairston.

Color dark green spotted with white.
Granite, Biotite — Mount Airy Granite Co., Mount Airy, Surry county.

Color light gray; grain medium.
Syenite — Cedar Rock, Franklin county.

Color pink; grain medium fine.
Granite, Gneiss — Greystone, Vance county; J. E. Stagg.

Color light gray; grain medium fine.
Gneiss — Hendersonville, Henderson county; W. B. Troy.

Color light gray; grain fine, compact laminated.
Gneiss — Alexander, Buncombe county; R. B. Vance.

Color dark gray; grain fine.

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Online LibraryNorth Carolina. Geological Survey (1891-1925) Missouri. Division of Geological Survey and WaterBiennial report of the State Geologist → online text (page 8 of 9)