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June 28, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part II

Courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch

Click here to catch up: Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part I

Frank Woodson, in his 1913 article about the slate industry in Buckingham County, observed that slate had been mined and used locally for considerably more than a century. Those who know Buckingham well are aware that even the county’s chicken coops can be roofed with slate.

When Woodson’s article was published, quarries had operated for about fifty years. By 1913, sons of the original quarrymen had inherited thriving operations.

Woodson wrote:

I had heard that the Buckingham slate is superior for all purposes, especially for roofing, to any that is mined or quarried anywhere else in the world. I had an idea that perhaps that was merely an off-handed Virginia boast, for in my ignorance on the subject I supposed that slate was simply slate and that all slate was alike. An investigation convinces me that I was wrong, and that the claim for the superiority of Buckingham slate is well-founded.

Geologists, the journalist noted, categorize slate by grade. Some is worthless for roofing, while some will last virtually forever exposed to the elements. Many slates are merely slag and, when exposed to air and weather, change and discolor making “an unsightly roof.” There were many products on the market guaranteed to last for about ten to fifteen years. The only slate that is absolutely unfading is the blue-black metallic slate which fills Buckingham County’s quarries.

Coming next: Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part III

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