History of Industrial Minerals Mining
The term "industrial minerals" refers to geological deposits that can be mined for commercial and industrial uses, as opposed to minerals used as gems or fuel (oil, gas, and coal).
Ohio has a long history of industrial minerals production, but the exact date when minerals were first produced is unknown. It is known that Native Americans exploited raw materials long before the arrival of the first European settlers.
They carried on extensive quarrying in the Flint Ridge area in Licking and Muskingum Counties; pottery fragments found at many archeological sites evidence the use of alluvial and glacial clays. The first mining of clay and shale by European settlers appears to have been for use in the brick industry in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Gypsum was discovered along the shores of Lake Erie in the early 1800s and was first used as a soil conditioner. Today it is used primarily in the manufacture of wallboard and agricultural applications. As of 2005, gypsum is no longer produced in Ohio.
The first use of limestone and dolomite also occurred in the late 1700s and early 1800s. It is known that lime for white-washing and plastering was being sold as early as 1817, and by the mid-1800s limestone was the most valuable building material among the state's natural resources. Its primary use was for building foundations, chimneys, and fireplaces.
Ohio became one of the major producers of sandstone in the nation in the early 1800s. Sandstone was used for building stone, foundations, and architectural purposes.
Sand and gravel were the last of the state's mineral resources to be developed extensively for commercial use. This did not occur until after the turn of the century. Since the primary use of sand and gravel is for construction, its production is tied closely to the economy and the expansion of our cities and highways.