A VISIT TO BAKERTON. Editor Register: Mr. I. H. Baker, the enterprising superintendent Baker, of the Washington Building Lime Co.’s Works, gave us a pleasant surprise by inviting us to see the works in operation at Bakerton and Keller, and also to visit the Virginia Iron Ore Banks.
Fancy yourself in what was a limestone field less than two years ago, but now dotted over with tenant houses of the purest white, (for the lime burners are not like the proverbial shoemakers’ wives) a thrifty store, the buildings in which the works are carried on, buzzing machinery, large kilns and the steam drills resistlessly boring into the excellent limestone rock of which there are apparently inexhaustible veins, and you have a slight idea of what the place is. But this, after all, is but a slight one; for one must take a peep into these places and have the operation of the machinery explained to enjoy it thoroughly.
All of the machinery of the place is moved by the same boiler, (a thirty-horse-power affair) the steam passing through iron pipes to engines stationed at various points where it is needed. The stones are lifted from the quarries by cable cars run up steep inclined planes, and are dumped at the mouths of four furnaces or kilns. These furnaces are kept going night and day, and at least twenty-five car loads of lime are shipped weekly on the B. & O. cars which come up to the works for loading.
Staves and hoops are brought to Bakerton by the car load, where they are made into barrels for the lime. Among the energetic coopers who were so busily plying their trade, we found one sufficiently skilled to play a tune with his hammer as he put the hoops on the barrels.
The water from which the steam is generated is supplied by an artesian well from which it is lifted by a steam engine and stored in a large tank to be drawn on as needed.
While the company’s chief business is to make building lime, and that of superior quality, they also make a coarser grade, which is an excellent fertilizer and as lasting as excellent. The best field of corn in this section is one of Mr. W. .J. Moler’s, on which he has used this lime. Farmers would do well to consider its virtues as a fertilizer.
From the energetic aud systematic way in which everything is moving in these works, one must infer that Mr. Baker is, in spite of his youth, the right man in the right place.
But there is other business going on at Bakerton besides the lime business. That is mercantile. This business, which is in the hands of Messrs. Strider & Engle, is conducted at this point by the latter wide-awake and accommodating gentleman. Mr. Engle is obliged to be at his post early and late to keep up with his trade, for Bakerton is a busy little place and he is one of the busiest men in it.
On one of these hazy mornings when rain threatens, but does nothing more, a ride of two and a half miles on the truck brought us to Keller, or Engle’s as it is called by the B. & O. R. R.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of Keller is the crusher, a powerful machine kept in constant operation, crushing stone for ballast for the road named above. This crusher, which is fed with stones at the rate of a car load every three minutes, crushes them with as much ease as if they were egg shells–an ease so striking that one is strongly impressed with the thought that real power is always quiet.
One who wishes to visit the Building Lime Works at Washington this point will lind Mr. Charles Thomas, the obliging overseer, warm-hearted in his welcome and interesting in his explanations.
Keller was named by Mr. Charles Keller, a thrifty business man, who has lime works in operation quite near to those mentioned above. As the main line of the B. & O. R.R passes through these lime works and gives abundant opportunity for it makes them flourishing.
West Virginia is noted for the richness and variety of its mineral resources and the people of this section seem awake to the fact that it is time to develop her hidden treasures.
At Keller, too, we find a flourishing store in the hands of Messrs. Osbourn & Ronemous. These gentlemen, though there are two of them, find themselves kept on the move to keep up with the large trade that falls into their hands.
A run back to Bakerton, and another run of a mile and a quarter on a switch, brought us to the Virginia Iron Ore Banks, so called because they were in operation years before the Civil War and consequently before West Virginia became a separate State. What was once one of the Old Dominion’s proud mineral laden hills, for which she is so famous yet, is now a large deep chasm from which the valuable ore (yielding as much as seventy-two per cent to the hundred) has been taken, off and on. for a hundred years or more. From the bottom of this chasm, mines are tunneling in all directions for more ore and are being well rewarded for their labor. X.
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