A mile northeast of Bakerton, on a continuation of the branch railroad, is another busy scene at the Virginia ore bank. The books at Antietam Furnace show that over a hundred years ago the deposit of iron ore at this place had attracted the attention of manufacturers, who had worked even before that upon this valuable vein. But it has never yielded as much ore as it does now, one reason being because the methods of digging and handling it are so greatly improved. For fourteen years this property was lying idle. A year or two ago, after it had become the property of Mr. Thomas W. Ahl, it was again opened up, and now that the railroad has reached it there is no question as to its future. Mr. Ahl owns 96 acres of land here, and it is estimated that 55 acres of it contain the iron ore. The vein is practically inexhaustible.
Mr. W. C. Foreman, an experienced miner, is superintendent of the works. Under his management everything moves along smoothly and systematically. About 25 men are employed. The ore, which comprises almost the entire hill, is easily mined. It is loaded into small cars, drawn by steam up an inclined plane, dumped into the big washer, the dirt and refuse cleaned out, then drawn again into cars, which are pulled up to a platform along the railroad, and the ore is finally dumped into the cars. In former years the ore was raked out from the earth with iron rakes, and only about half of it was secured, while the rest went into the dump heap.
About fifty-five tons of ore is shipped daily– some days two cars and some days three. It goes mostly to Baltimore, but also supplies a furnace at Dunbar, Pa. The ore is a neutral hematite, and Mr. Foreman, who has had 24 years’ experience in this business, says that it is the best he has ever handled. The demand is greater than the present capacity of the works, and Mr. Foreman told the REGISTER man that plans are being arranged for a vast improvement and enlargement of machinery. A new inclined plane will be built, and it is hoped that work will be found for two hundred men. There’s no doubt that there is plenty of ore there for any number of men to work at for any number of years. One breast of the vein has been worked up to a height of 88 feet, and there’s no telling how much deeper it goes. Most of the employees live across the river in Maryland, but it is likely that a number of new houses will be built on Mr. Ahl’s land for their accommodation.
The works at the ore bank are of benefit to Shepherdstown in a business sense, as Mr. Foreman buys most of his supplies here.
ANOTHER ORE BANK
Mr. Jacob S. Moler’s farm adjoins the above place, and so the REGISTER man dropped in on his old friend and got a most excellent dinner. Mr. Moler has plenty of the same sort of iron ore on his place. In fact, the bank was at one time in successful operation, though it was afterward closed on account of various circumstances. But there is ore and plenty of it. All you have to do is take a pick and dig into the ground, and out rolls the ore. Several Baltimore capitalists were there last week and made an examination of the old mine. They were greatly pleased, and will probably lease the place and begin operations in the near future. Mr. Moler, we hope, will realize handsomely on his property.
Take it all in all, there is a genuine boom down in that neighborhood. Business is already brisk. But in two or three years more some of the older towns will have to look to their laurels, unless all present signs fail.
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