- A Glimpse of NC Mining History on our Place -
On 29 April 1903, The Alamance Copper Mining Company was born on the eastern slope of Bass Mountain with its principle office in the city of Durham, NC. Payment of $10,000 to Thomas Morcom and his wife, Mary, was made for the property on which the mine would operate in Newlin Township. Principals of the new company were William L. Clise, A.S. DeVlaming, J.S. Manning, and R.H. Wright. "The shaft ........ was originally started some years before the Civil War, but at that time was shut down and nothing more was done to it 'till the present company took hold of the property."
As described in a report dated 27 July 1903 submitted by Thomas Morcom, M.E., the mine property in Alamance County was located 11 miles south from Graham (on the Southern Railway) where the country rock was Quartzite and the formation in which veins were found was Slate. Ore was of Chalco-pyrite and Peacock (Bornite) varieties carrying both gold and silver with a wide range in value as follows:
Copper - 1% to 40% per ton
Silver - 1 oz. to 10 ozs. per ton
Gold - trace to $1.20 per ton
This property now comprising 85.6 acres and known as Tract #1 of 4, on which most of the work had been done, was developed by an incline shaft on a vein to a depth of 110 feet. The vein averaged in size, top to bottom from 4 to 5 feet. At the 100 foot level, drifts were extended north and south on the vein a distance of 70 feet, the south drift showing a vein 6 feet wide, the north drift with a 5 foot wide vein.
The mine shaft was reported to be "...... of 2 compartments, modern in construction, timbered throughout with “oak" and equipped with an up-to-date 50HP hoisting engine with 400 feet ¾ inch steel rope built by the Hendree & Bolthoff Co. of Denver. Additional equipment included the following:
Sullivan Air Compressor (14x14x9x16) with a 5 drill capacity
Erie City Boiler (100HP)
2, Gardner feed pumps
Stillwell-Bierce & Smith-Vale Sinking Pump (50 GPM ordinary speed capacity)
3, Sullivan air drills
4, ¾ ton Truax Ore Cars (12 cu ft)
Shaft House (80'x 22')
Sawmill on premises.
Labor rates are $.75 to $1.25 per day with no labor organizations and consequently no strikes! Freight costs on ore to New York smelters in car load lots is about $3 per ton.
Mr. Morcom's report of December 1903, some 5 months later, states the shaft depth had increased by 35 feet to 145 feet with both north and south drifts extended by 50 feet to 120 feet each "which have been in ore of a paying grade the entire distance." New per day labor rates show promise:
Engineers - $1.50
Chuckers - $.85-1.00
Muckers - $.75-1.00
Blacksmith - $1.50
Woodcutters and men of all work - $.75.
Morcom's two reports thus far have been similar and appear to be oriented for prospective buyers or investors.
C.L. Constant, Jr. states on 14 November 1905 that "the wagon road from Graham to the mine is good for 5 miles and in very bad condition for the remainder of the distance." This obviously was of primary consideration leading to the closure of the mine besides "..... the company decided not to spend any more money on the property but to sell if possible as they did not wish to have their money tied up in a business that is not familiar to them." At this point, a dump of some 190 tons lay on the surface and purportedly "..... the company now building a trolley line from Burlington to Graham and down the Haw River, will agree to put in a branch line to the mine for hauling ore to the railroad." The next day brought formal closure with the deed going to the receiver.
Soon thereafter, possession was obtained by one of the original principals, Mr. R.H. Wright and held by his real estate firm until twice sold in 1963 and again in 1976 to the current owners. It remains in completely forested condition, the majority of which is hardwood
Preparation is underway to allow sale of this property in the near future. Prior to market placement, plans are to make it available for viewing by appointment, and only to principals with proprietary interests. Price is $842,000.