North Carolina. State Geologist.

Report of Professor Emmons, on his geological survey of North Carolina [electronic resource] online

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slates, is between four and five thousand


At Madison, the series below the coal slates, on the East
side of the Dan, at the new bridge, is represented by the
following sections :

1. Gneiss dipping beneath the sandstones.

2. Soft variegated sandstones, with mien, and

imperfectly bedded ; at least two hundred
feet thick, east of the site of the bridge.

3. About one thousand feet of green shaly

sandstone, with drab colored sandstone,
interlaminated with the series ; strike N.
65 E. angle of dip 45.

4. Red sandstones, with cavities.

5. Green and dark colored coal shales.


106. The coal has been exposed about four i dies from
Germanton, on the plantation of Mr. Mathews. The strata
as exposed, are arranged in the following older.

1. Slate below.

2. Fire clay.

3. Coal, eighleen inches,

4. Slaie, one foot.

o. Coal, eighteen inches.

6. Black slate, five feet.

7. Sandstone and state.

The coal at the outcrop is not pure, or it contains some
pyrites. Still, at a new locality on this plantation, discovered
by Dr. McClenahan, at the time of our visit, the prospecU
are better than at the shaft, where the coal was first taken

The attention, which has been given to the Dan River

coal field, has as yet been too inconsiderable, to develope its

riches. It appears, that fro.n Leaksville to Germanton, coal

s exposed at several points, besides at the extremes of the

formation, leaving out of view its extension into Virginia.

107. The foregoing descriptions of several subordinate
sections will convey to the reader a correct idea, (so far as
description will convey.) of the conglomerates, sandstones,
and slates of the Dan Ri\er coal field. From the observa-
tions which I have made, I am inclined to regaid the con-
glomerate as the least constant mass, and the most variable
in its characters. It exists at Germanton, but is imperfectly
developed ; whilst at Madison, it is replaced by a soft mass
of the red sandstone.

At Leaksville, and also, not far from Madison, this series
contains some remarkable beds of brecciated conglomerates
which are probably absent or wanting upon the Deep River.

The shales or marls, appear to be the most constant mass.
It preserves its thickness and all its characters unchanged,


and most, if not all the subordinate beds, are developed, both
upon (he Dan and Deep Rivers.

The fossils in variably appear wherever the slates are found ;
so, also, (he impure limestones, with their concretions, are
equally constant, (hough they are quite inconsiderable in
mass. In the Dan River coal field, (he lower rock if fully
disclosed is much thinner, and less important, than the same
mass in the Deep River, in whkh,as I have already observed,
the slates seem (o be equal in importance in each. The con-
glomerates of Deep River are very prominent, and quite im-

But, if we compare the thickness of the sandstone above
the slates, they seem to be thicker, and more fully developed
upon ihe Dan. I am also inclined to estimate the entire
thickness of the sandstone series, as greater on the Dan, thaa
pon the Deep River.


108. 1. FIRE CLAY. The fire clays of the Trias arc
well adapted to the manufacture of fire bricks. The clays
connected *\vith coal seams have long been used for this pur
pose ; and hence the name, ./fre clay. The clays being free
from iron, lime, and magnesia, are highly refractory in the fire;
and hence are well adapted, from their composition, for the man-
ufacture of such articles as are required or designed to be subject-
ed to a high heat. The seams of fire clay are, in a few in-
stances, ten feet thick ; others are only two feet. They are
always found in seams, subordinate to the s'ate. Some
seams of fire clay do not bear coal at their outcrop. The
material is very fine and even-grained ; the silex is never
coarse or concretionary. The only obstacle which stands in


the way of mining this clay, is, that it often becomes hard in
the deeper parts of the seam. It is abundant upon the Dan
and Deep Rivers. It is entirely distinct from the ordinary
clays of the country. It is confined to this formntion ; and
is, in fact, a subordinate part of it : and is never absent, it ia
said, wherever a coal seam exists : though it may occur, and
coal be absent. It appears to be fine enough for the manu-
facture of articles much finer than fire brick.


IRON. The coal series appear to furnish always more or less
of this variety of iron ore. It occurs, usually, in nodules,
from the size of an egg up to a barrel. Generally, their form
is an oval or flattened sphere. The strata are part s of the
coal series, and subordinate to the formation, and are depended
upon, to a great extent, for the supply of ore for iron. It s
qualities, especially when manufactured with coal from the
beds, is not of the first order ; but, as it is made into iron
cheaply, it is valuable ore.

3. LIMESTONE. The limestone, 'which has hitherto been
exposed in mining, is of an inferior quality, and only small
in quantity. The layers do not exceed a foot in thickness.
At the Wilcox Mine, and at an opening on the plantation of
Mr. Campbell, on Deep River, layers of tolerably pure gray
and granular limestone occur.

The seams and thin beds of limestone lying in and divid-
ing the slate, is impure from silex, and is probably magne-
sian. Septana are formed in this band, which, taking the
whole, and including some intervening slate, is from four to
five feet thick. It may serve a good purpose in making
hydraulic lime. It should be tried. It occurs at Leaksville
and Madison. The Deep River band, though it occupies ap.
parently the same position, seems to be more silicious than at
the other places mentioned. When limestone is so scarce,
the inferior kinds will pay for burning; and, as wood is
cheap, there can be little risk trying the lime at some of the
localities, both for agricultural purposes, and hydraulic ce-


4. PLASTER AND SALT. The first has not been found at
ail, except in some few instances, in the tertiary clays.

The suit is frequently a mineral subordinate to the rocks of
this series. It exists. Some of the waters issuing from these
sandstones con ain a small quantity of sal', muriate of soda,
or, more properly, chloiide of sodium. 1 have obtained it in
small crystals, by evaporation. The question of the exist-
ence of muriate of soda, in quantity, can only be settled by
boring 1 . There is one fact which seems to be unfavorable to
its presence in sufficient quantities to become valuable. If
the indications are to be relied upon, the rocks were deposited
in deep water ; and it appears (hat salt or brine springs are
more commonly found in those which are formed under shal-
low wafer, and where the water itself evaporates under tho
sun sufficiently to ciysiall/ze out of the liquid, and occasion,
ally leaves a large area uncovered with water. But, however
this may be, boring is justifiable : and, as numerous places
are known where water furnishes salt, the expense attending
the operation will not form a serious objection to such a

5. FREE STONE. Dan and Deep Rivers both furnish, and
may furnish, inexhaustible quantities of free stone, admirably
adapted to all works of construction. The material is soft,
when first removed from the beds, and hence is easily wrought
into suitable forms ; it hardens by exposure to the weather,
and is therefore durable ; its colors are bright, and the stone
is therefore beautiful.

The taste and fashions of the times give a preference to
building stones of this description ; but durability has also
had something to direct and settle public opinion. Chimneys
\\hich have been built of these stones have stood for fifty
winters and summers ; and yet (heir corners are as sharp as
ever. Besides, it is not so subject to acquire mouluiness as
granite. Granite, like some poor soils, encourages the growth
of fungi; b)i giving them potash, or the alkalis ; and hence.



building 1 , made of smoothly wrought granite, becomes dingy,
especially if shaded. The expense of working free stone is
much less than granite. Quarries may be opened on or neat
the navigable waters.

6. GRINDSTONE. The kind of stone which is predomin-
ant is a sandstone. The grain is variable, from a coarse to
a very fine grit. Among the grits, that kind which is suit-
able for grindstones is common. The series below the coal,
as well as those above, furnish them. Among the grits, 1 have
observed some very fine ones upon the south side of Deep
River, not far from Mr. Campbell's. They appear to be
adapted !o the purpose of grinding finer cutlery. Experi-
ence, I beli v( , proves the value of these stones for the ordi
nary uses of the farmer, the grinding of axes, &c.

Very little attention, however, has been given to inquiry
respecting the best beds. Should a market be opened, grind-
stones of the best quality can be obtained. 'J heir color is
both brown and gray. Their grit is very sharp, and the grade*
of hardness required for different purposes may be easily sup-

7. MILLSTONES. I am not sufficiently well informed, a?
to what state of perfection the millstones of Deep River may
be brought. They are among the best stones for grinding
corn. Whether art can make them best, or as good as the
French burr stones, will be better determined by those ac-
quainted with the manufactory of them than myself. They
are esteemed for corn, and this fact has given them creak
and a market to almost any extent ; and it will increase, pro-
vided means of cheap transport are provided : as they can
be furnished much cheaper than French burr stone, and

are equally good for some purposes.

8, SHALE. The slate of the coal series, being fragile,
and easily decomposed, may be employed upon the soil, ns a
fertilizer. It is composed of alumina, silex, a little lime,
phosphate of lime, and some potash.


Those layers, which abound in the cypris, and posidonia,
are richest in phosphate of lime.

The composition adapts the use of it to sandy or loamy
soils ; and, though I do not venture to recommend their trans-
portation far, yet, on the plantations, which have a poor soil,
which are adjacent to this marl, it will pay well for hauling.
It should he ground and sown freely, broad cast. These
slates contain many hard oval bodies, which consist of silica,
lime, and phosphate of lime: the latter, in the proportion of
more than one half. These long oval bodies are the excre-
ments of fish, or liz irds, which swarmed in the sea, in the
days during the deposit of the system.

The recommendation is eno tinged on the ground, that
fertilizers are expensive in that region of country vvhe-'e this
formation exists; and if it should be found useful, the
country through which these shales pass, can be supplied, to
any extent which is desirable.

It is rare, that a formation, which looks so tmpiomising
on its first ar.qaintance, should turn out so rich in products,
which will encourage industry and contribute so much to the
advancement of wealth and prosperity.

The English new red sandstone, which is certainly closely
allied to this formation, supports no less than nineteen large
cities. It is true, that in that country, rock salt is one of the
products of the red sandstone formation, which has been dis-
covered here; but there is coal, which is still betttr, and which
can promote the wealth of the Dan and Deep Rivers, to a far
greater extent, than salt alone. The climate, and the
health of the country, too, is in its favor. The navigable
waters, or thos? susceptible of being made so ; the value
of the forests, in pines and oaks ; the iron ; all of which
mark the Dan and Deep River, places these districts, in a
position, equal to that of the country referred to, and if that
can support and cherish the inhabitants of nineteen cities,
certainly, this formation should give origin at least to four
or five large and flourishing towns.

A careful survey of our own country, and others abroad, ac-
companied with an inquiry into the causes of the rise of cities


and towns, will probably show, that those causes are mainly
geological. It will show, thru, the productsof the soil and the
mine lie at the foundation of all the operations which have
given rise to their establishment and subsequent prosperity.
PiUsburg, in Pennsylvania, owes her origin to the iron
and coal in her neighborhood. Rochester, in New York,
owes her origin to the peculiar rocks there, whose constitu-
tion produces the Falls upon the Genessee, at this place, and
those peculiar rocks give the surrounding country a wheat
soil. Upon these facts, fRoch ester has become one of the
most flourishing cities in the Union ; and yet all these causes
are geological. Deep River and the Dan have all these ad-
vantages and more.




109. The new red sandstone, in England, is underlaid
by limestones, or calcareous rocks, to a greater or less ex-
tent. Some of them are magnesia ; and hence, in the series^
one of the members is strongly marked, and is known as
the magnesia limestone. The origin and source of the
materials appear to be entirely different ; and hence, the
lithological character of th3 series; and new red sandstone
is quite different, at least in its subordinate parts.


In the United States, the materials are deficient in lime and
lyscer.csifc ; and on account of the presence of certain minerals
t'ilhiJu: in the waters, and forming deposits, and thereby
imparting a character to the whole sen, these circumstan-
ces cannot fail to influence both animal and vegetable life;
The sea-bottom will favor, or it will be unfriendly to the
existence of certain species. To facts of this kind \ve
may look for an explanation of certain modifications which
are known to exist in the fossils of those rocks.

The marl slates resemble those of the Permian system.
In Germany, they contain copper. Here, they are entirely
destitute of copper. In other respects, they aie quite simi-
lar. While it cannot be proved that rocks which contain
the coal of Deep and Dan Rivers are Permian ; still reasons
are not wanting which favor this view : though the Rich-
mond coal field is now regarded as belonging to the Oolite.
I am, however, upon the whole, and on consideration of all
the facts, inclined to adopt the opinion, that the whole
series belongs to the upper new red sandstone. I am
sure the great abundance of coal favors the view that this
series should be regarded as Permian. So, also, the tooth of
the Thecodontosaurus, or a saurian closely allied to it but
the most abundant fossil, the posidonia minuta, (Goldf.)
favors more strongly the opinion I have adopted under the
existing facts.



IRON ORE. In Nash County, I visited a deposit of Iron
which had been worked, but now abandoned. It resem-
bles the bog ores ; should be classed with them ; being
simply a superficial deposit, of no great depth. This, in
fact, is of no value. It is one of those formations which,
1 believe, has originated from ancient mineral springs,
whose waters were charged with bicarbonate of iron: or an
oxyde held in solution in a carbonated water. When
combinations of this character reach the surface, the car-
bonic acid escapes. When the iron is no longer soluble
in water, it is precipitated upon the surface. There will
then be found a deposit of oxyde of iron, intermixed with
clay, sand, &c. Some of these deposits may contain suffi.
cient iron to become valuable ; this will not. The extent
should be determined by sounding with a slender bar of
iron or steel, before expenditures are made.

of a fine quality, exists at Mr. C. Coffin's, ten miles from
Greensboro'. It is free from sulphate of iron. It had not
been examined, when I visited it, in a shaft. The surface
ore presents a favorable indication of two or more veins of
a fine quality.

This ore is also a fine kind of this^species ; but its extent
has not been determined by actual exploration.


This location is six m ; les north of Evans's Mills. I regard
this as the peroxyde, or the specular ore ; as it is un-mag-
netic, and gives a red streak. It is abundant, and, being:
in the vicinity of water power, it will come into use when
the Deep River improvements are completed.



time. iBfft

111. It has been known for a very long time,iBh the
auriferous pyrites consisted in part of the sulphuret of iron,
and, in part, of the sulphuret of copper. In extracting
the gold from the sulphurets, the latter has been neglected
and allowed to rlow away in the washings. Lately, how-
ever, attempts have been made, not only to save the copper
of the auriferous pyrites, but to work the veins exclusively
for copper. Stith's mine had been worked for its gold for
many years. It was profitable ; but its owner, Mr. Fen-
tress, had given up the business of working it for gold, and
it was lying useless to himself, when Mr. Stith proposed
working the sulphuret for copper. Two shafts had been
sunk upon the vein, at a distance of 316 feet j and, for
some distance from each shaft, the ore had been removed
and worked for gold. The vein runs N. 30 degrees E. ; dip
N. W. At the depth of almost 72 feet, the vein of pyrites
is divided into two, [a flat vein, which dips about5 degrees,
and a vein dipping between 60 and 70 degrees.] The flat
vein consists of a gangue of quartz, arranged somewhat
in columns, and the vein of sulphuret, ranging in with from
4 to 12 inches : the whole width of the quartz and copper
is from 2J to 5 feet. This flat vein dips towards the steep
dipping vein, and finally becomes incorporated with it,
when it becomes the main and important vein of the mine.


The progress of the work becomes more and more favora-
ble, and a fine vein of sulphuret of copper is likely to be
disclosed, and, indeed, is so, by the present operations.
The double sulphurets are changed to the single suiphurets,
and it is found to yield from 32 to 40 per cent, of
copper. The mine is valuable, and its success will operate
favorably in producing a change in the working of the
auriferous pyrites. The probability is, that many others,
in which the copper has been lost, from ignorance of the
value of the substance, will be worked so as to save the
copper, or to work them as copper mines exclusively.


112. The great value and importance of limestone has
created a demand for it, both as an article essential in con-
struction, as well as in agriculture. In a very large part
of North Carolina, this rock seems to be absent, and hence
it has been difficult to supply lime sufficient only to meet
the ordinary wants ot the community. It has been always
too expensive to warrant its employment for agriculture,
and much of the loss in agricultural products maybe at-
tributed to the scarcity and expense of lime. Probably all
the soils of this State will be benefit ted by the application,
of lime. I have visited only the two well known localities
of limestone in Stokes, the limestone belonging f o Mr. Mar-
tin of , and Mr. Bolejaek of Germanton. These

beds of limestone belong to thepyro crystalline rocks. The
stratification of Mr. Martin's beds is quite obscure, while
that of Mr. Bolejack's is quite distinct. Both belong to the
same kind of rocks.


The thicknes? of both exceeds forty feet, and lie between
strata of coarse talcose slates or talco-micaceous slate.
Both beds make good lime. These beds may become in
the hands of enterprising men both profitable to the owners
and highly the useful to community . Mr. Bolejack's is located
very conveniently for cheap mining, and wood being abun-
dant and cheap, I have no doubt it may be furnished at 15
cents per bushel and perhaps 12J. At those prices tha far-
mer can afford to use lime.

The beds seem to be in range with others crossing the
State from N. E. to South West.


The predominant rock of these Counties is Talcose Slates
with a variety which may be called talco-micaceous slate.
The rock has the usual silvery lustre, and thin lamination,
which is frequently undulating. The rock is generally cov-
ered with soil. The ridges and mountains are sharp and
narrow, and present in out line a singular and picturesque
appearance. This is especially the case with the Pilot
mountain. From Germanton and other points, it presents
the appearance of a high isolated rounded knob, bearing
upon its summit a square tower. Seen from the residence
of its owner, Mr. Guillam, it becomes a sharp ridge sur-
mounted by two pinnacles the eastern the greater of the
two. The mountain sides are steep and precipitous. The
pinnacles are bounded by perpendicular sides. The highest
and most prominent one is ascended by means of ladders,
and rises about 70 feet above the crest of the mountain.


These magnificent pinnacles have been formed by a very
simple geological operation. The rocks were thrust up-
wards in such a manner as to produce a decided curvature
of the crest of the mountain, and so much of a curvature, as
to produce a cross fracture of the strata between the pinna-
cles, which are 250 yards apart. The slow operation of at.
mospheric agents have done the rest These operations
consisted in the disintegration of the softer slates, especial-
ly along the line of parture between the pinnacles. The un-
dermined strata form the debris of the mountain sides. The
harder strata of the pinnacles have withstood the action of
the elements, and will stand and battle them for thousands o^
years to come. The strata of the pinnacles differ from each
other. Some of the strata consist of pure granular quartz,
especially those which form the pinnacles. These strata,
however, should not be regarded as a sandstone, but simply
a very quartzose variety of talcose slate. The Pilot and
other mountains of the range belong to the first and most
easterly of the Blue Ridge or Alleghanies ; but unlike other
ridges, they are steepest on the eastern slope. The Pi-
ot mountain is one of the greatest places in North Carolina.
Nature has performed a work here, which seems to have
been designed to give health and pleasure to those who have
become debilitated or worn down under the burning and sul-
try atmosphere of the South. It is a pity, when so little is
left to be done, to make the Pilot a place of great resort,
nothing but a rough path way and a few ladders have yet
been contributed to promote objects of so much importance.
The geological structure of much of North Carolina >s char-
acterized by low anticlynal and synclynal axes. Some of
the synclynal are deep and form troughs in which the coal
fields lie. The axes are formed by normal dips, being equal
on both sides of the rounded ridge.



1 hire introduced a greater amount of elementary matter
perhaps, than is required in a simple Report, designed to give
a statement of what has been done to carry out the plan of
the survey. I have done this because many of the persons
into \vh'"se hands this report will fall, wish something of the
kind. Much of the elementary matter of the foregoing re-
port iiris been published before, but I have proposed to make
a direct application of these elements to the agriculture of
the State.

The State of North Carolina might be divided into two
great districts, the Agricultural and Mining the former
embraces those Counties which lie immediately upon the
Atlantic slope, extending to the first fall of the rivers, where
they enter the tertiary formation. The latter embraces all
west of these falls. While the former, however, is eminent,
ly agricultural, the latter is both agricultural and mining.
Usually, a mining district is rough and comparatively un-
productive : here, however, while mining gives, or is capa-
ble of giving, magnificent return, the agricultural is equally
productive with other districts. The means of living are
therefore cheap, and while a portion of its citizens are en-
gaged in those pursuits which neither make a blade of grass,

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Online LibraryNorth Carolina. State GeologistReport of Professor Emmons, on his geological survey of North Carolina [electronic resource] → online text (page 12 of 14)