COAL & IRON MINES IN PULASKI COUNTY
A period of industrial growth for the county was helped by
the railroad, especially Pulaski City. Some touted the town as
"a future Pittsburgh". Anthracite coal was abundant
in Pulaski County and mines in Parrott and Allisonia operated
for more than 60 years. Iron ore and zinc deposits led to development
of local industries that took advantage of the railroad and the
Parrott Mine, located on Little Walkers Mountain, the most
extensively operated mine in the county, opened 1902.
Altoona Mine, was located at the western end of Little
Walkers Mountain nine miles northwest of Pulaski.
Belle Hampton Line.
Empire Mine, located thirteen miles west of New River on
Little Walkers Mountain. Mr. D. G. LANGHORNE opened what is now
known as Empire Mine Number one in 1914 and operated it as a Wagon
Mine until 1918, at which time it was leased to the Virginia Anthracite
Coal Corporation, which was subsequently reorganized into the
Empire Anthracite Coal Corporation, production obtained by these
companies never amounting to more than about 180 tons per day.
The Empire Anthracite Coal Company took possession by purchase
from the Empire Anthracite Coal Corporation on March 16, 1923,
and opened Number two mine and made substantial improvements in
operating facilities and development, expending a substantial
amount in such improvements and development, increasing the output
tonnage capacity to approximately 600 tons per day.
Limonite iron of two types has been mined in the county. It occurs
chiefly between Little Reed Island Creek and New River. The mines
Rich Kill, Reed Island and Underrack Line. Among
the other mines in this territory are Farris Mine and Clark
Bank. All of these mines were closed years ago.
The second type is believed to be derived from iron, which was
leached from shales above the fault. The Clayton Line,
located two miles south of Pulaski, and Peak Knob Line at the
east end of Drapers Mountain, are both closed now.
Boone Furnace, an important iron furnace located in the
southern end of the county, was built about 1876. The foundryman
was Henry BOYD. The manager of the mines was Isaac Huff and the
manager of the furnace was W. R. TIPTON. The furnace, closed about
1895, is still standing.
Ground was broken for the Pulaski Iron Furnace February 1887.
On. February 12th 1888, the first cast of iron was made. The huge
coke-fired furnace, on the present site of the Gem City Junk Yard,
operated till the depression.
Dora Furnace was built in 1890 under the leadership of
George L. CARTER and John W. ROBINSON, but was bought and became
an integral part of the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company in
1899. The furnace was named for a daughter of George T MILLS who
built the first fire in the furnace.
The Bertha Mineral Company, formerly called the Bertha
Zinc Company, through a Mr. JONES of Rhode Island bought the first
lease of mineral land from Robert Calfee and began the construction
of the Bertha furnace in 1879. The furnace was opened on February
13, 1880 and the first lot of zinc was turned out (400 lbs.) February
19, 1880. The spelter from this furnace ranked with the best made
anywhere in the world. The Bertha Zinc Works brought skilled zinc
smelters from Wales to Pulaski County. The zinc supply ran out
in the years just prior to World War I, and it was Pulaski's largest
industry when it closed in 1910.
In the year 1880 the Bertha Mineral Facilities Company
built a narrow gauge Steam Railroad known as the Altoona Railroad
from Pulaski to a mine they had opened in the Merrimac Seam some
distance from the location of the Empire Mines. The Altoona Railroad
was used to transport coal to their furnace at Pulaski.