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July 9, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part V

Courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch

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

Frank Woodson, in his 1913 article for Richmond’s Times-Dispatch, impressed upon his readers that Buckingham slate was now shipped all over the country, as well as exported to England and Scotland. He included a proud reminder that Buckingham quarries held medals one at the Centennial Exposition in 1876, and from international expositions held in London, Chicago, St. Louis, and the recent Jamestown Exhibition.

Naturally, the quarries were one of Buckingham significant employers. The Arvonia quarries collectively employed from 650-750 men, the majority of whom were skilled workmen called “slate makers,” who split and shaped the slate.  The machinery in the quarries was up-to-date and first-class, including “enormous steam boilers and engines, gravity cable ways, automatic self-dumping carriers, dressing machines, trimmers, cutters, etc.” Woodson continued:

All of the yards have ample side trackage and the loading of cars is done in a hurry. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which operates the line in this County, known as the Buckingham branch, encourages and fosters this immense slate industry and the operators register no complaints about freight rates, and they very rarely suffer from car shortage, when they do it is only for a day or two at the farthest.

Woodson concluded:

Indeed slate getting and slate making in Buckingham is a great Virginia industry, and it is destined to become much greater, for there is no telling what capital and energy and hustle will not do with these immense deposits of the best roofing material the world has ever known. Truly it is an interesting subject, and I expect to write more about it.

For much more about Arvonia and the slate quarries in Buckingham County, try entering those search terms in the box to the right of this blog post. Enjoy the results!

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