Saturday, November 7, 2009


By Ebenezer Emmons

To His Excellency, Thos. Bragg, Governor of North Carolina:

Sir : In obedience to your instructions which I had the honor to receive in a note bearing date December 26, I herewith respectfully present the following special report, " on the advantages of the Valley of Deep River, as a site for the establishment of a National Foundry:"

In the first place, permit me to observe that this subject came up for investigation in 1854, and that I then addressed a note to your predecessor, Gov. Reid, in which I attempted to set forth the advantages of Deep River for the object above specified.

Since the date of the note alluded to, I have been still more confirmed in the views then expressed, inasmuch as Deep River, as a manufacturing region, has become still more important in consequence of additional discoveries. But I should remark in this place, that the opinions I have -heretofore expressed, and now entertain, are based upon certain premises, viz : that an eligible site for a National Foundry should combine in its location peculiar advantages, such, for example, as are connected with an ample supply of fuel of different kinds, abundance of the ores of metals, a full supply of timber, water power, materials for construction, a good climate, a spot accessible at all seasons of the year to government officials, and inaccessibility to an enemy without. To the foregoing I may add, that a good agricultural region which can furnish corn, wheat, and cattle, is certainly very desirable, and would confer great advantages over one which is comparatively unproductive.

It is not, however, supposed that Government will engage in the business of reducing the ores of the metals; but, I have no doubt, that the value of the site for the purposes contemplated will be greatly increased, if it is on a spot where private individuals or companies are engaged in this business, and where all the different qualities of the metals, - especially iron, are produced. They are then obtained At the least possible expense, and where, too, Government might well exercise a certain supervision, in order to secure those qualities which are the best for the use to which they are intended.

Similar remarks may be made respecting fuel; it is plain enough, that the fuel should be obtainable upon the spot. The necessity of transporting an article so much demanded, would be a great drawback upon any site where such a necessity as transportation existed; so also, in regard to timber and materials for construction; if these were to be obtained from a distance, the expenses entailed upon the institution contemplated, would form, as in the preceding case, a great drawback upon the eligibility of a site thus located.

It is in consequence of a combination and concentration of advantages, that gives to Deep River an importance over all other places known to the author of this report; such advantages, for example, as are derived from an abundance of fuel, of ores, of timber, and suitableness of climate and location, which have been intimated as the necessary requisites of a location for the purposes designed by Congress.

I shall now proceed to state the facts respecting the natural productions peculiar to the valley of Deep river, and which, I hope, will be found to sustain, in every particular, the premises which 1 have laid down in the foregoing preamble.

1. Fuel in the Condition of Coal.

Under this head the bearing of my statements will go to prove, both a great supply of this kind of fuel, and of a quality superior, in many respects, to any now in market, and which is especially adapted to manufacturing purposes.

The Deep river coalfield possesses all the essential characteristics of the better developed ones in this country, though its extent or area is comparatively small. Its outcrop of coal, or line upon which it has been proved to exist, is about thirty miles. This outcrop runs along the course of Deep river, and is rarely, if ever, more than a mile from it. On this line, there are eleven different places where either shafts, slopes, or pits have been sunk, and which have severally cut the main or six-foot seam.

These coal shafts or slopes begin at Farmersville, the lowest point upon the river where coal has been fully disclosed. From Farmersville, proceeding up the river, we find in succession McIver's Egypt, Taylor's, Gulf, Tyser's, and Tyson's, Carbonton, Mrs. Bingham's, Murchison's and Fooshee's. There is no doubt of the existence of coal beyond the extremities named; but these being as it were on the river bank, and all of them disclosing the existence of a continuous seam of coal, it is evident this segment of Deep river is the most important, and the one upon which capitalists must rely for their supply of this kind of fuel. Viewing this coal, then, only in the extent along which it has actually been developed, there seems to be no sufficient reason why doubts should be entertained of a supply for a long time to come. All doubts respecting a supply of coal will however vanish, when it is considered that from even one of the shafts enumerated, an ample supply may now be obtained; I allude to the Egypt shaft, as these works have been more fully carried out than at any other point upon the river. Here, there is a shaft 460 feet deep, and sunk 1,000 feet within the outcrop. It gives access to the main or six-foot seam as it is called, though it exceeds that amount.

Here, the arrangements are so complete that a ton of coal can be raised to the surface every two minutes during twenty-four hours. I need not go into a further statement of the quantity which Egypt alone can now furnish; and when the other pits are brought into an equal degree of forwardness, it is plain that Deep river will not only furnish all the coal required for manufacturers there, but an immense supply for distant consumption.

The quality of this coal is a matter of considerable consequence. Tested in the smith's shop, the uniform opinion is, that it is cheaper for all work at forty cents per bushel than charcoal at five cents. Smiths at Fayetteville have been in the habit of buying it at that price for several years. It contains a large proportion of volatile matter, at the same time it forms, during combustion, a firm, hollow coke, which makes it so much sought for by smiths, and within which it furnishes an intense heat, which especially fits it for the performance of very heavy work. In the next place it is a gas coal. This property having been fully tested in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, it might be inquired whether the residuum left is valuable as a fuel. On this point, too, it is fortunate that there is so much testimony of the value of its coke, for it is a singular fact that the coke of many gas coals is of little value. The late Prof. Johnson, whose investigations in the department of coals are so well known, gave a very favorable account of it, entertaining no doubt of its high heating as well reducing properties when employed for smelting the ores. In the region of Deep river the coke of the refuse coal will undoubtedly take the place of anthracite in the furnace and forge.
The composition of this coal, as determined by Johnson and Jackson, is as follows.

Fixed carbon . 63.6
Volatile matter 84.8
Ashes. 1,6
Specific gravity 1.8
Ash reddish brown.

This coal is also remarkably free from smutiness or dirt, as well as sulphur and other impurities which injure miner?' coals when employed for heating and reducing the metallic ores. Having, then, had this coal under examination for four years past, and having need it in a grate, and having observed its action in a forge, and having also the testimony of competent observers and experimenters as to its value for gas, as well as the value of its coke, there remains, as I conceive, not the shadow of a doubt as to its value when employed for melting iron, reducing its ores, or of its value for all manufacturing purposes where charcoal is not absolutely required.

2. Metallic Ores, Particularly Iron,

Five kinds of iron ore belong, geologically to the Valley of Deep river, and are known to be centralized upon that portion of it where the coal formation is perfectly developed. Two of the kinds form inexhaustible beds in the coal measures, and one is so immediately connected with the seams as to require removal when the coal is mined.

The hydrated argillaceous oxide exists in a bed from five to six feet thick, seventy feet above the first coal seam. Its position and connection is so favorable for mining that many tons may be thrown down every hour by a single miner. This ore is the kind which usually accompanies the coal measures of all countries. It possesses properties in common with the ores of this class, especially that of Pennsylvania and the carboniferous system of Wales. Its properties and value are too well known to require comment at this time.

The black band is the most important and valuable of all the ores of this formation. It first appears between the two proximate seams of coal, having a width of 15 inches. Below it is the twenty-two inch seam which is succeeded by about fifteen inches of black band, which rests on another seam of coal seven or eight inches thick. About thirty feet lower are two beds of black band, whose thickness is sit feet, separated by a seam of coal one foot thick, which is too ranch charged with the same ore as to admit of its use as a fuel. Both of these zones of black band are removed along with the coal, and being underlaid either by fire-clay or bituminous shale, is thrown down with little labor and expense. I speak of this for the purpose of showing that the cost of obtaining this ore is trifling, when the arrangements are once made. The black band owes its value to the carbon which is combined with it. When properly roasted the ore is left in an open porous state, and in the condition of a protoxide, a fact which is evident from its strong magnetic powers It is, therefore, a homogeneous ore, retaining still more carbon to aid in its reduction.

The composition of the black band ore is as follows:

Carbon and volatile matter 40.62
Per oxide of iron 47.50
Silex 9.00
Sulphur trace.

From the foregoing it is evident that iron can be cheaply made from the black band, and as the best Scotch pig is made from it, a kind so much sought for in this country, it maybe regarded as equally worthy of belief that the use of this ore will supply an article which has for a long time been imported, and thereby save as from the necessity of large expenditures for this kind of metal.

The black band is known to be co-extensive with the coal formation. It is therefore, inexhaustible, and its quantity is so great and so widely distributed, that its use can never become a monopoly by any company. An estimate of the cost of making pig iron from this ore, by an experienced and highly accomplished iron founder, was made at my request, and it appeared that pig, equal probably to the best Scotch pig, could be manufactured at a cost not exceeding nine dollars per ton.

I deem it will be sufficient to answer the purposes of this report to allude only to the specular, magnetic, and hematitic ores of Deep river. The nearest locality of the specular is about six miles northwest from the Gulf upon the plank-road leading to Graham. The magnetic is about six miles farther in the same direction, and the hematitic occupies an elevated point known as the Ore Knob, situated nine miles from the Gulf, and about the same distance from Carbonton. The latter was used in the time of the Revolution, and the castings then made are remarkable for their toughness and strength. These three kinds of ore possess the usual properties and characteristics, and being unmixed with foreign matter possessing injurious properties, it is conceived that they also are fitted for all the purposes to which these ores are usually put.

From the foregoing statements it will appear that in the neighborhood of Egypt, the Gulf, or Carbonton, there never can be any lack or want of raw materials for the manufacture of iron; and these several localities being concentrated in a limited region, it must strike every one at all conversant with this matter, that here is a rare combination of advantages for the manufacture of iron in all the forms and conditions which the present state of society requires.

3. Timber for Construction.

Deep river in its lower reaches skirts and passes through a belt of the long-leaved pine. This belt of pine is mostly on its southern bank. On the east, north, and northwest the oaks and hickories form the principal kinds of timber, intermixed, however, more or less, with the short-leaf pine. A great forest of white oak skirts the tributaries of the Haw river. This belt extends from the mouth of the New Hope to the vicinity of Chapel Hill. Its mouth is about three miles above the junction of the Haw, and Deep rivers. The Haw becoming navigable to the mouth, or near the mouth of New Hope, opens a way to this forest of many thousand acres occupied by this valuable tree. But as this, together with hickory, ash, and elm, grow extensively throughout the valley and upon the adjacent slopes skirting it, and, moreover, as the mild climate favors the rapid growth of all forest trees, it is a fair conclusion that there will be for years to come timber for all the purposes demanded for the construction of implements of war and of defence. It is to be recollected, in this connection, that the forests have never been thinned by manufacturing companies, as is the case in New England and New York, neither has the long-leaved pine been used for the extraction of turpentine.

4. Quarries of Free Stone, Granite, and other Stone for Construction.

The common rock of this coal formation is a red, brown, or cream colored free stone, which, however, is interstratified with tender, brown or reddish shades. Free stone, of various textures and colors, are the common products of the formation. One hundred years' exposure of this stone to the atmosphere proves it a durable material for building. The layers vary in thickness; they are soft and easily dressed when first removed from the quarry, but soon harden, when they become stable, and remain unchangeable. Grindstones, coarse and fine, are also of sufficient value to require a passing notice. Roofing slate may be obtained upon Rocky river, and granite of a superior quality at Buckhorn, on the Cape Fear.

5. Water Power.

It is a question which remains to be settled by others, whether, upon a coal mine, which must always furnish a large amount of fine coal, water should be employed for moving machinery, or steam. Whether this question is settled in favor of water or steam, it is certain that the water power of Deep, Haw, Rocky, and Cape Fear rivers are very important sources of power for moving machinery of some kind in this section of the State. On Deep river there are three falls; the lowest at Lockville, where the available fall is about sixteen feet, which may be taken into a race from which the water may be used twice. Another fall of about ten feet, and which is partly employed, exists at the Gulf, and another still at Carbonton. Three miles above the junction of the Haw and Deep rivers there is a valuable water power upon the former, which, as it is connected with the latter by navigable waters, may be considered as belonging to it. It is bordered by banks which may be safely occupied by mills of any description. The falls of Buckhorn, upon Cape Fear, six miles below Lockville, furnish by far the greatest power for moving machinery. If, therefore, water is required for any purpose connected with the business of a National Foundry, it may be obtained to an extent which a community of manufacturers may require.

6. Accessibility.

The navigation of Cape Fear and Deep rivers is already secured. An outlet to the Atlantic is thereby obtained. The distance to Wilmington from the coalfield is one hundred and fifty miles. Steamboats ascend now to Lockville, and will soon be able to reach Farmersville, Egypt, and the Gulf. In addition to the foregoing, I may state that a railway is now being constructed from Fayetteville to the coalfields, which will pass through them and intersect the Central Railroad at High Point. This road, when completed, will form an important chain of communication, which will put Deep river in immediate connection with the timbered sections of the State, and with the mineral region of the upper part of Deep river; and if continued to Salem, as contemplated by a railroad charter already granted, will also be connected with limestone, coal, and iron, upon the Dan river.

So, also, a link of thirty miles of road is yet to be constructed by which Deep river will be in connection with Raleigh, Weldon, Portsmouth, and Norfolk, or Petersburg and Richmond. Or, if another route to the Atlantic is preferred, it may be obtained by the Atlantic and Goldsboro' Railroad. . By these routes the seaboard is accessible in about twenty-four or thirty hours: 1st, by way of Wilmington; 2d, by Goldsboro' and Beaufort; and 3d, by Weldon and Portsmouth. Deep river may be reached in from twenty-four to thirty hours' travel from Washington.

It is scarcely necessary to say, that Deep river is inaccessible to an enemy from without.

7. Climate and soil.

Chatham County, through which Deep river flows, has a good climate, and its soil is adapted to the growth of wheat, corn and cattle.

In Conclusion I may very properly say that Deep river possesses those advantages which a National Foundry requires in an eminent degree:

1. In its abundant supply of bituminous and semi-bituminous coals of the best qualities.
2. In its vast resources for the manufacture of iron.
3. In its materials for construction in wood and stone.
4. Ample water power.
5. In its soil and natural productions.
6. In its climate and good water for domestic purposes; there is neither the extreme heat of summer, which debilitates, nor excess of eold in winter, which closes the navigation of its rivers, or interferes with the movements of machinery.

With the foregoing summary of leading facts, I submit this report to your Excellency's favorable consideration.

I am, sir, your Excellency's obedient servant,


Geologist to North, Carolina.

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