History of West Virginia Mineral Industries - Limestone

Dividing Line

Limestone has been a valuable resource in West Virginia since the arrival of the early settlers, who burned local limestone to produce agricultural lime. Numerous scattered small pits can be found today on Briery Mountain, Preston County, evidence that early farmers quarried the Greenbrier Limestone. lime-kiln Following the Civil War, increased growth of the State led to the development of quarries for building stone and lime. The Shenandoah Valley in Jefferson and Berkeley counties has extensive limestone and dolomite deposits, and early on the valley became the center of limestone production in the State. By about 1900, numerous large quarries were opened for the manufacture of lime, railroad ballast, and flux for the iron and steel industries. The limestone was also used for cement, particularly Portland cement, which requires a high-grade limestone with definite proportions of silica, alumina, and lime.

Farther west, the value of the Greenbrier Limestone was soon realized as a source for Portland cement. It was also used for building stone, lime, and furnace flux as early as 1885, though the industry was not as large as to the east. There has been increasing demand in more recent years for very high-quality limestone to be used as rock dust in deep mines, and parts of the Greenbrier Limestone are well-suited for this purpose. Numerous small quarries also have been developed in the freshwater limestones of central West Virginia; the limestone is used as construction aggregate, often for highways and their maintenance.

Today, limestone production in West Virginia exceeds 10 million tons per year. The large quarries in Berkeley and Jefferson counties account for almost half of this. Greer Limestone Company, in Monongalia County, also produces a large amount. The best quality limestone is used as rock dust and for chemical purposes in manufacturing. Other uses today are for metallurgical flux, cement, agricultural lime, and construction aggregate and ballast. In the future, limestone may play an important role in coal conversion plants and as a precipitant in scrubbing stack gases from coal furnaces. The State is well endowed with an adequate quality and quantity of limestones to meet any future needs.

portland cement company

(adapted from an article by Jane R. Eggleston, September 1996)

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