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Mineral Wealth

page 6

 

  Rich soils, flakes of gold, or deposits of clean sand provide opportunity for the investor or settler. Early geologic investigations helped identify resources and inform the public of their existence.

GOLD! Gold! Gold in the Iowa River!". A few flakes of yellow metal stirred the hopeful "gold rushers" of Hardin County in 1853 and again in 1877. Iowa's glacial deposits contain a few rare flakes of gold but commercial ventures find limited success.

"many statements are going the rounds of the newspapers in regards to the occurrence of gold in Iowa. . . . It may therefore be advisable to state, that no rocks, such as, in other parts of the world, have been found to be auriferous, occur within the region mentioned, or, so far as we know, in any part of the State." --James Hall
 
Limestone: Limestone provides many opportunities for economic development. It may be used as sidewalks, building stones, agricultural lime, cement, or a lithographic printing stone. Limestone quarries are found in almost every Iowa county.
Galena, Lead Ore: Rocky crevasses near Dubuque, Iowa, hold deposits of lead ore called galena. Lead formed ornaments for native Americans and bullets for the American Revolution. Commercial mining of the deposits continued into the twentieth century.
Native Copper Nuggets: Scattered within the glacial deposits of Iowa are nuggets of Native copper. Although some nuggets have been made into ornaments or tools there are no economic deposits in Iowa.
Hematite, Iron Ore: Iron is found in scattered hematite nuggets and concentrated limonite layers in Northeast Iowa. Attempts to mine the deposits proved a limited success.
Coal: Layers of coal lie under central and southern Iowa. Open pit and underground mines provided a profitable fuel source for Iowa industries and railroads through World War II. Alternative fuels and environmental concerns limit current coal mining activity.
Sphalerite: Sphalerite is an ore of zinc occasionally mined around Dubuque, Iowa. No zinc mining is currently occurring.
Gypsum: Iowa gypsum mines provide raw material for wallboard, portland cement, and other uses. Gypsum mining began about 1870 and continues as a major Iowa industry today.

 

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