Today, the Gold One Dollar Coin remembers when the International Cotton Exposition began in Atlanta, Georgia on October 5, 1881.
But, the exposition included much more than cotton, especially the displays by the railroad companies that traversed the south.
One writer claimed the precious metals and minerals as shown by one railroad would dethrone King Cotton.
From the Catalogue of Exhibits by the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, Made at the International Cotton Exposition, Atlanta, GA., 1881, a correspondent says, with truth and fervor, that ”to inspect the Richmond and Danville Mineral Exhibit at Atlanta, is like turning over the index pages of a fascinating book.” — Augusta Chronicle.
Published in 1882.
New Orleans Times
A gentleman from Boston, quite distinguished for his heavy and successful operations in mines and mining industries in the far West, made tonight the following statement to a group of Northern and Eastern capitalists:
“I have been two full days examining the mineral display at the Exposition, and I am so astonished over that hitherto unrivalled showing of precious metals, base metals, and wide range of minerals generally, that it seems almost impossible to believe my eyes. I cannot yet quite comprehend that this great metalliferous belt of the South is unequalled in the Rocky Mountains.”
From this time forward begins the boom over Southern mining grounds which will show King Cotton it is no longer king product in America, nor can it remain king in the South another twelve months, and I am inclined to think that the product of the Southern mines, including coal and iron, would for 1881 round up fully as many millions of dollars as cotton will figure this year.
But we will now enter the specimen representation of Southern Mines.
The display of gold, silver, copper, galena, and other ores now spread for exhibition by the various railroad companies which pass through the Southern States, excels in comprehensiveness any and all other exhibits ever made in the United States.
The exhibits are made, with a single exception, by the enterprising steel-clad ways which have been built in part or wholly in the last few years.
At least they have added joints, making trunk-lines out of detached roads, until a number have termini on two coasts and soon will be so connected as to add another coast — the Pacific.
The Richmond and Danville Company’s exhibit, under the superintendence of Capt. C. C. McPhail, their agent is much more complete than any other.
The State of North Carolina has a fine exhibit under the charge of General M. McGehee, but, not being allowed necessary space, they sent but a small fraction of the ores and minerals of that common wealth, which, without exception, is the richest State in the Union in its range of precious metals, other metals and minerals.
Every metallic substance and every mineral known to arts, science, and manufactures is found within her boundaries.
This is an assertion most sweeping, but can be substantiated without difficulty.
The Richmond and Danville Road have all the minerals exhibited by North Carolina, and many others from Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama; consequently your correspondent has examined, so far, this department most closely.
All they exhibit is from along their road and branches from Alexandria Va., to Birmingham, Alabama, where are being rapidly developed and utilized iron and coal from the greatest deposits of these metals ever found in such handy juxtaposition.
In gold there are about 2,500 specimens. One nugget of native gold weighs $500. They have a $3,000 gold button, an illustration of retort product, or how the metal is precipitated in the retort after the quicksilver is evaporated from the amalgum.
In the same case with the native-gold specimens and button, are eight gold bricks from Georgia mines, and quartz with free gold in wire, leaf, and granulated forms.
In two other cases are All the Precious Stones, except the turquoise gem.
One Georgia diamond, weighing 2.5 carats, is fine in color and cut. It is set in a plain gold ring, and is a loan from Mrs. Pledger, of this city, who is the owner, and who paid $330 for it.
There are sapphires, oriental and other rubies, topaz, chalcedony, garnets, agates, green quartz, onyx; also in the list are a number of specimens of the Hiddenite, the newly discovered precious gem, which commands $100 a carat, and is in big demand among the lapidaries and manufacturing jewelers.
The Asbestos Family is most largely represented.
It includes mountain wood and cork, and the long, fibrous, silky textures. More varieties of the species are on exhibit by this railroad company than is held by any one museum of the Old World or, as yet, in the New.
Amianthus, a fine, dark, silver gray, is most silky of all.
This is the variety so much sought by the ancients. Those among them who had relatives or friends condemned to the funeral pyre made a wrapping out of this variety for the bodies to be buried, by which they preserve the ashes of the condemned.
The writer experimented with this in the State of Jalisco, Old Mexico, in 1877, until he succeeded in making an incombustible paper upon which one could write.
Cloth is made from it by mixing some flax or cotton or jute and spinning and weaving in the usual way, after which the cloth is placed in a fire and these combustible materials burned out, leaving an incombustible cloth for firemen and gloves for those who handle corrosive articles.
It resists, like gold, all action of acids as well as fire, hence its extensive and growing, and to grow, uses in chemical laboratories for table covers, for chemists, funnels for straining acids, etc.
Fireproof paints are made of it and extensively used.
The capital building at Washington, wood-work, marble, all are painted with asbestos. The Oriental Hotel at Manhattan Beach, N. Y., and quite all the otherwise exceedingly combustible wooden hotels of Eastern seaside resorts, are painted with this mineral, so that they are fire-proof.
The varieties here from mines on the line of this road are amithus, common asbestos, mountain cork, ligniform asbestos, mountain leather, and mountain paper, with which iron fire-proof safes are made absolutely sure to preserve documents if lined with it, as many companies manufacturing safes do, hence their success in their sales, although the reason of their asbestos- lined safes not burning documents in passing through fires never so hot is not made public.
Thus we find that thousands pass these heavily freighted tables of the Richmond and Danville Railroad exhibit, little heeding this mineral, thinking nothing of it, while it is such an important factor in the world of arts and manufactures.
Until this ground from whence these specimens came was discovered to hold so much of it, those who used it were fearful lest the supply should fall short of necessary demand. Now that it is abundant, asbestos will be used far more extensively.
Another mineral frequently seen in Capt. McPhail’s department, which covers 2,000 square feet of room, is corundum of the Sapphire Family.
In this species are every known variety on exhibit. Its uses are, plain and uncouth as it appears among other minerals, exceedingly manifold.
Not a needle, not a sword, nor axe, nor anything made of steel or hard iron, and requiring polishing is placed ready for use but has felt the grit of corundum.
There are different colors and different degrees of hardness of the mineral which, to be of service, must first be ground in powerful steel mill grinders.
Here we have the greenish, grayish green, reddish yellowish, bluish, brown or whitish, the coarser (emery), blackish or bluish gray, making those familiar emery wheels we see in all factories.
When ground, even sapphire and oriental ruby yield to it when placed on the lapidary’s polishing or grinding wheels.
For a minute, perhaps many minutes, we will note the cases of Precious Stones, for the Times has said that not all metals and all minerals only are in the South’s great metalliferous belt, but that all precious stones are there.
The diamond above mentioned, and one of finest color and water, is surrounded by the blue sapphire or oriental sapphire; the red sapphire or oriental ruby; the asteriated sapphire or violet colored one; oriental amethyst; the yellow is oriental topaz and the green sapphire oriental emerald.
Garnets, topaz, each of all shades of colors belonging to them. The opal, common, fine, and precious, in rough state is encountered.
Crystals rivaling the finest of Africa and Brazil, pearlstone in huge blocks, also pearlspar are seen.
Green, smoky, milky, yellow, rose, irised, granulated, and others of the quartz-family varieties are assembled in this display.
Miscellaneous. Latin spar, heavy spar, baryta, porcelain clay, porcelain jasper, pitch-stone, soapstone, ocre clay, slate-stones of every variety, with pieces of Virginia roofing-slate, seven feet in length, which splits, as mica does, almost into one-fourth inch thick plates.
In Marbles. Beside the Egyptian, with milk white color and black Egyptian, Luna or Carrara marble, statuary marble, numerous conchitic (shell) marbles; but, finest of all, is the beautiful, rosy, flesh-colored marble newly discovered and not known elsewhere in the world, while the famed Pentelican marble found heretofore in the vicinity of ancient Athens only, is in numerous quarries along this line of road.
Of this many of the noblest monuments of Greece are made.
This on exhibition is white with crystals of black hornblende. The people near the quarries named it leopardite on account of its peculiarly spotted appearance.
Coach dogs could be cut from this so as to imitate almost reality at a little distance. There are also the other familiarly known varieties.
We find at different places on the tables Baron Von Humboldt’s Itacolumite, discovered and named by that savant, and by him pronounced “The Mother of Diamonds.”
On the tables I find it labelled “flexible sandstone,” because, unlike any other of the rocky species or varieties, it will bend like a hinge when separated into thin slabs.
Baron Von Humboldt found it at the head of diamond-fields in Brazil, and thousands of the finest diamonds in existence had been discovered at the immediate feet of said hills.
It occurs in many places in North Carolina, consequently it is but reasonable to say that there are yet vast undiscovered fields of this queen gem in the alluvial beds of the Tar-heel State.
it is impossible today to give the Times’ readers a bird’s-eye view even of this inviting department.
To detail the whole variety of ores of gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, coal, zinc, rich nickel ores, species, and varieties and uses; of clays, granites, mica, and a very large class of minerals from which are extracted hundreds of chemicals useful in arts, sciences, and manufactures, will require several articles.
The Times will have them all mentioned in due season, for it started the new boom in this, its own great metalliferous belt, and will keep its wheels moving until North and South will overflow this rich steel-clad roadway, its tributary lands and regions to the apex of the highest mountains of the Appalachian range. Bayon.
The Gold One Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of the International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia in 1881.