Allamakee co. IAGenWeb

Chapter 8

Geology of Allamakee county
By Ellison Orr

Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913

The Stratified Rocks
Iron Hill - Geological Character


By Ellison Orr

“Geology treats of the Structure of the Earth, of the various stages through which, it has passed, and of the living beings that have dwelt upon it,-together with the agencies and processes involved in the changes it has undergone. It is essentially a history of the earth.” In these words Professors Chamberlain and Salisbury, in their very complete work, define the science which we will apply to a study of the rock and soil formations of our county.

It is quite well settled that no matter when or how the great interior bulk was formed, great changes have taken place and much has been added to the outer or crustal portion of our world, the only part at all accessible for investigation and study.

It may be said that the very latest changes were made and are still going on at the surface, and that there we find the newest formations. Just beneath the surface we find those somewhat older. Below these are those older still, while at the greatest depths to which we have been able to penetrate are found the oldest. This is generally but not always the condition. Sometimes the surface has been heaved up in long, narrow and much broken, distorted, and folded mountain chains, in which rock strata hundreds or even thousands of feet in thickness are in places found standing on edge, and in other places great masses are entirely overturned so that the natural order is reversed and the oldest rocks are found on top.

It may be remarked in passing that mountain making instead of being a sudden and tremendous upheaval, is a slow process, the formation of a range taking a long time, and that while the great rock masses are being broken and twisted and thrust skyward, they are at the same time being disintegrated and dissolved by frost and water, ground down by moving ice and snow, and worn by winds. One force building up, the other wearing down. After the mountain making forces cease to operate, the forces that tear down still continue, and very old mountain ranges formed long ago, have the least height, sometimes being worn down to chains of rounded hills.

In places the up-thrust, instead of breaking the crust along an extended line, forming mountains, is heaved up into great flat domes covering large areas, sometimes thousands of square miles in extent. Such are plateaus. Where such upheavals are of great age, much of the later formations has been eroded away, exposing often rocks of great antiquity.

The Labrador Plateau illustrates such an ancient upheaval and later erosion.

It is by studying the rocks brought up from below and exposed in mountain making, those brought to view by the wearing away of plateaus, and those exposed by the cutting downwards of stream and river valleys, that it has been possible to classify the rocks, learn the materials of which they are composed, and discover the plant and animal remains buried and hidden in them.

Beginning at the surface, we find it very generally covered by a mantle of soil, clay, sand, gravel, and broken rock. This is rock waste. Sometimes this mantle is largely formed by the disintegration and decay of the solid rock on which it lies and the crevices of which it fills. The soluble portion of the rock has been carried away by air and water action, the insoluble part left. This is usually a stiff tenacious red clay over limestone rock, to which geologists have given the name of geest, and a bed of loose sand over sand rock. Over the geest, in northeastern Iowa, and just below the black soil at the very surface, is a stratum of yellow clay varying in thickness from a couple of feet up to twenty or more. In places there is found between the geest and this yellow clay, a blue clay, filled with reddish pipe-like concretionary formations. Both of these clays are called loess. The origin and manner of formation of the loess is still in dispute. By some geologists it is regarded as of aeolian origin, that is, that it was formed by dust caught up and carried by the winds from large areas of arid clay at no great distance and redeposited where found now. By others it is thought to be of lacustrine origin,-the settlings of a lake. As the loess differs in different places both are probably right. The loess of the Missouri valley is most likely wind formed, that of our locality may have been deposited at the bottom of a lake surrounded by glaciers. For at one time all of North America, as far south as the Ohio river, the northern part of Missouri and Kansas, nearly to the Rocky mountains, was covered with a great sheet of ice. A study of this great glacier by the record which it left behind when it finally melted away seems to indicate that during an age of much greater cold than we now have, it began to accumulate in Labrador and Keewatin, forming an ice cap such as now covers Greenland. As it became thicker and thicker it began to spread and flow or move very slowly southward, in the course of time reaching the limits mentioned. Then there came a change. The climate became milder and the front of the ice began to melt and recede. As the glacier in its southward movement had gathered up the sand, the geest and clay, and had broken up and ground, the hard rocks over which it passed and mixed and frozen them into itself, so, when it began to melt, the water running away in the swollen streams and river left behind the clay and rocks, where they were when the ice movement stopped.

Sometimes the deposit thus left is only a few feet thick, sometimes it is hundreds. It is a stiff sandy clay containing abundant ice-worn rocks from the size of a marble to that of a house and is known as the drift or glacial till. If the front of the glacier remained stationary for a long time,-that is, if it melted away at the front as fast as it advanced,-this glacial till was heaped up in small rounded hills, and a range of such hills marking the place where the old glacier seemed to rest is called a terminal moraine. Glacial till dropped from a rapidly receding glacier,-one that melted much faster than it advanced,-is called a ground moraine, the surface of which is usually very flat. This is the reason for the monotonous dead level of our western prairies, they being largely glaciated areas where the till was deposited as a ground moraine. The ice worn rocks or boulders are of kinds not found near the surface in this region but have been torn from their beds far to the north. It is by them that we have been able to trace the course of the glacier’s movement.

These erratic boulders are largely of granite, greenstone, quartz, and other ancient rocks from the Labrador table land. From their hardness they have received the local name of “nigger heads.”

Four times the great ice sheet advanced across what is not Iowa and tour times receded, finally to disappear from the continent except on the high mountains and Greenland. It was thousands of years advancing and thousands retreating. From data obtained from the cutting away of the gorges below Niagra Falls and the Falls of St. Anthony at Minneapolis, it has been computed that it has been about eight thousand years since the ice disappeared from the most northerly parts of the United States, and hundreds of thousands of years since it first invaded the same territory. The era of time during which this was taking place was called the Ice Age.

The rock mantle then of the country we are to study is formed of the black soil at the surface,-clay containing much humus or decayed vegetable matter; the loess of two kinds below that, resting on the geest, or where there is drift, on that; then the geest resting directly on the hard rocks.
An exception to this is the flood plain of the Mississippi river. The islands, and the soil and sand under the ponds, sloughs and channels of the great stream. Down many feet to bed rock are alluvial deposits, washed in from the surrounding country.

For Allamakee county these formations may be approximately expressed in the following table:--

Black surface soil.......................................................1 inch to 2ft.
(Alluvial, Mississippi flood plain)...............................100ft.
Iowan (yellow) Loess..................................................1 foot to 20ft.
Kansan (blue) loess....................................................0 foot to 6ft..
Drift (only in S. W. Part of county)..............................0 foot to 60ft.
Geest (rock residue)...................................................0 foot to 3ft.

If the mantle of soil, clay, sand and glacial till were to be removed, the hard or indurated rocks would be exposed for inspection.

Particularly noticeable then would be the much greater depth of the valleys, and their existence where they are now unknown. Everywhere under the drift soil, could be seen on the rocks the scratches and grooves made by the boulders frozen in the great ice plow as it moved slowly but irresistibly over them.

The rock exposed, if it were examined over wide areas would be found to vary greatly in color, composition, hardness and the manner of its occurrence, but still could readily be grouped together in two great classes. About four-fifths of all the land surface would be rock arranged in layers or strata, and generally not very hard. The remaining one-fifth would be hard, generally crystalline rock, usually massive or without stratification, and usually showing evidence of having at one time been heated extremely hot. The latter are called crystalline rocks and are the older, being always found beneath the former or sedimentary or stratified rocks, except where overturned in mountain making, or where they are cooled lava, volcanic ash or other matter ejected by volcanoes, in which case they are often of the newest formations. Many of our great mountain cones like Vesuvius and Etna in Europe and Mount Hood in this country are made up wholly of rock formed of matter thrown up from deep in the earth. Such rocks are called igneous, and when of great age are often very crystalline.

In places, notably in Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona, matter in a molten condition appears to have flowed out of fissures in vast quantities and covered great tracts of country with sheets of igneous rock of quite uniform thickness. Where this occurs, and in the case of the ordinary volcanic cone, these rocks are then often found overlying the sedimentary rocks.

The crystalline granites are of the oldest of the rocks. They were once thought to be part of the earth’s original crust. But later investigations lead to the belief that no part of such crust is now in existence in it original form, but that it has been so folded, crushed, and ground, and changed chemically and by metamorphism, eroded and redeposited, that it is now entirely different. These granites are only exposed in mountain chains or on very ancient plateaus,-the “first dry land” up thrust from the sea,-or where very shallow deposits of sedimentary rocks overlying them have been entirely worn away by erosion.

Most of the rocks of the crystalline class now exposed have once existed as rock in a very different form and had a different composition from their present one. In all probability, excepting those of igneous formation, they were at one time all sedimentary. The change has been produced by great heat, pressure, and crustal movement, and they are said to have been metamorphosed, and are called metamorphic rocks. Marble is a metamorphic limestone.

All the older rocks of the crystalline class bear evidence of great crushing, folding and fracturing. They were shattered again and again by the violent crustal movements of the young earth. The fissures filled with hot solution of rock material that hardened to be again shattered and again made a solid rock, the process often being repeated many times.

Geologists have given to these older rocks of this class in North America the name of the Archaean complex. No rocks of this complex are found in our county, or even in the state except in the extreme northwest corner, where there are a few outcrops of Sioux quartzite, a rock of this era.

Stratified rocks are those found in layers or strata. Most stratified rocks were formed as a sediment or deposit at the bottom of the sea or of other bodies of water. Some stratified clays and sands have been formed by the winds, and river flood plain deposits formed by running water have more or less stratification. The strata may be as thin as paper or may be many feet in thickness.

The stratified rocks of sea formation may be divided into three kinds, Sandstones, clays and shales, and limestones. The first two have been formed from the disintegrated, crushed and pulverized rocks of the land surfaces washed by the rain into the rivers and carried by the rivers to the sea..

The sand was precipitated, or settled, first near the shores of the ocean, or other bodies of water, where it was spread out evenly by wave action, forming beds.

The clay and other minerals dissolved out of the rocks by the rains and brought down by the rivers, were mostly carried farther out and deposited in deeper and quieter waters.

The same processes that formed our oldest sedimentary rocks formed our newest and are still at work.

In ages to come the sandy beaches of our present sea shores, and the mud lats, and the clays of the quieter waters, will be by heat, pressure and chemical changes, changed, the loose sand to sandstone or quartzite, and the mud and clay to indurated clays and shales.

When animals, fishes and plants, living in the sea, die, the fleshy and other soft parts decay and the skeletons, teeth, shells, and scales of animals and fishes, and parts of the plants, settle to the bottom, are covered by the sand, the mud, or the clay, and are preserved. Land animals, birds, and plants are washed down by the rivers and their least destructible remains scattered over the sea or lake bottom and preserved in the same way. This was just as true in the past as the present.

Such remains, when found in rocks, are called fossils. In the rocks of latest formation they are often but little changed. In the older formations they have usually undergone chemical and other changes. Often after the bone, the shell or other part is covered up it is dissolved away or decays leaving a cavity of the exact shape of the part imbedded. This cavity is later filled by lime or silica held in solution by water filtering through the rock. A perfect cast of the original is thus formed.

Sandstone rocks were poor preservers of animal remains, and except when they are of recent formation few fossils are found in them.

Clays and shales being formed of much finer material covered up and preserved some wonderfully perfect fossil animal and plant remains. Impressions and casts of leaves are found so perfect that even the parts so minute that they can be seen only with a microscope, are just as in the original leaf, only of stone.

A large part of the stratified rocks are of limestone. Lime was dissolved from the older rocks forming the existing dry land, or formed by chemical union of their component parts and was carried in solution by the rivers to the sea. There limestone deposits that ultimately became lime rock were formed in two ways. One was by precipitation, settling the same as mud in dirty water settles to the bottom of a pail. Limestones thus formed are called tufas. The lime incrustation on the inside of a tea kettle is a sample of what such rock is like. But little limestone was formed in this way.

The great body of lime rocks, often many hundreds of feet in thickness, was formed in a very different way. The sea is and has been inhabited by countless myriads of animals of a low order, such as clams, snails, corals and microscopic creatures called protozoans or animalcules that formed a covering or protection of lime for their soft body parts. This lime they had the power of extracting from the sea water and of it forming their shells.

And the great body of limestone rocks is formed largely of the pulverized and comminuted shells of these animals when dead.

As by far the greater bulk of such rock is formed by shells that are microscopic, some idea may be formed of the immense number of the minute organisms producing them that existed in the old oceans, and of the immense length of time required to produce such great deposits of their dead shells.

The great mass of sedimentary or stratified rocks of the interior of North America have been but little disturbed by movements of the earth’s crust, and so far as their order and position is concerned, are now much as they have always been.

As the ancient backbone of the American continent,-the “first dry land,”-lay to the north, there was the shore line of the sea when sedimentary rocks first began to be formed on its bottom. This sea bottom sloped very gradually to the south and west where the deeper waters lay, so that all stratified rocks of the interior area or Mississippi valley, have a uniform slope or dip to the southwest. For the area under consideration it approximates eight feet to the mile.

It appears that the deeper parts of the sea have through the ages been continually getting deeper, and the land had been gradually elevated, what was once sea bottom being lifted above the waters and added to the land area. This is why stratified rocks, once sea bottom, are now found far inland.

With these remarks on general geology we may now proceed to a study of the different formations exposed in our county.

The Mississippi river along the eastern border of the county has cut deeply into the limestone, shales and sandstones, forming a gorge from two to four miles wide, and the tributary streams, large and small, have eroded their valleys to the level of the flood plain of the great stream.

The high steeply rounded bluffs and hills, the castellated rocks at their tops, the escarpments and sheer precipices, the wooded crests and slopes, with the river, the islands, sloughs and lakes form scenery of great beauty. Professor Calvin has called it the Switzerland of Iowa. Except for its ruined castles, and the interest which attaches from its long occupancy by man, we doubt if the famous Rhine valley affords its equal.

For a general description of the topography we copy Norton’s description of Volume XXI of the Iowa Geological Reports.

“Allamakee, the northeasternmost county of Iowa, lies almost wholly in the driftless area. The region is a deeply and intricately dissected upland, attaining an elevation of 1,300 feet above the sea level, and rising about 700 feet above the Mississippi river, which forms the eastern boundary of the county. The valleys of the streams are flat-floored and wide. The Mississippi flood plain attains a width of four miles and embraces a maze of sandy islands and braided bayous. The floor of the valley of the meandering Upper Iowa river has a general width of three-quarters of a mile, widening in its lower course to a mile and more. The valley of Yellow river is narrower but conforms to the same general type. The tributary creeks have well-opened mature preglacial valleys, and the courses of even their wet-weather affluents are graded.

“The topographic age of the region is best read in the semi-circular coves carved by the ancient stream on both sides of the valley of Upper Iowa river. These deep amphitheaters are guarded at their entrances by lofty isolated buttes, remnants of the rock spurs cut by the stream as it entrenched its carving course. No such coves and buttes are seen along the bluffs of the Mississippi through the succession of strata is equally favorable to cliff recession and planation, the vast volume of water of the latter Pleistocene times having cut back any salients of the valley sides and left a wall of rock singularly continuous and even and sweeping in its curves.

“The interstream areas consist of parallel east-west ridges or uplands, whose summits, where broadest, are cut by shallow valleys into a gently rolling topography. Their dissected flanks consist of lobate ridges of sinuous crest whose steep sides are gashed by deep ravines.

The summits of the divides rise to a common level. If the valleys could be filled with the material that has been swept away by running water they would constitute a plain whose origin may be ascribed to long subaerial erosion near the level of the sea. An additional proof of the former existence of this ancient peneplain, of which the summits of the divides are the remnants, is found in the valuable limonite and hermatite deposits of Iron Hill on the crest of Waukon Ridge. Such deposits are common on peneplains where the rocks have long been wasted by slow decay.

“Some evidence of a second and lower erosion plane is seen in the accordant level of the long lateral spurs that separate the valleys of the creeks tributary to Upper Iowa river. The crests of these spurs, which are capped by the Saint Peter sandstone, fall into a common plane about 1,100 feet above sea level, and thus lie distinctly below the level of the upland. Measured by the distance between the escarpments of the Galena and Platteville limestones of the upland, the width of the valley floor of the Upper Iowa, developed 1,100 feet above sea level, was about ten miles. In age the planation of this valley floor would seem to correspond with that of the similar peneplain of the second generation developed at Dubuque on the weak Maquoketa shale. In each place, however, another explanation may be found in cliff recession under weathering. In Allamakee county the Galena-Platteville escarpment may be supposed to have retreated because of the weak Saint Peter sandstone on which it rests and which caps the ridges defining the 1,000-foot level; and in Dubuque county the Niagaran escarpment may be held to have receded in a similar manner because of the undermining of the immediately subjacent Maquoketa shale.”

The lowest and consequently the oldest rock exposed in the county is that along the foot of the bluffs from Lansing to New Albin.

A very fine outcrop can be seen just in the rear and to the north of the second business block from the river in Lansing. Here at the south end of a short, low and narrow ridge is a vertical section of sixty feet of sandy shales and clays of shades of dirty yellow, brown, red, gray and green. These shales are quite firmly bedded in the hill, but on exposure to the atmosphere disintegrate and fall to pieces.

They have no economic value except as a surface dressing for clay roads, for which purpose they are excellent, forming a firm smooth surface. No fossils are found in this formation, which extends down to and for 700 feet below the surface of the river as shown by the record of the strata encountered in drilling the city artesian well.

It rests unconformably on a hard crystalline quartzite. Above the formation described lies twenty-five feet of a harder bedded rock that has been quarried to some extent for building purposes.

The entire 825 feet from the quartzite to the harder quarry beds has been given the name of the Dresbach sandstone. This is the western equivalent of the old Potsdam of New York. It outcrops along the valley of the Mississippi from New Albin to near Heytmans where the dip carries it below the level of the river. It also can be seen as far up the valley of the Oneota as section 6, township 99, range 5, Union City township, where there is an outcrop beside the highway in a gorge a few rods west of Mr. Regan’s

This is the rock from which the water of the flowing wells at Lansing, New Albin, and in the valley of the Oneota, comes the interstices between the sand grains forming a vast reservoir having the hard impenetrable quartzite for its bottom. In the Oneota valley artesian water will rise but a few feet above the top of this formation.

Above the quarry beds over the Dresbach is twenty feet of a formation yellow in color, described by Calvin as “horizontally laminated, fine in texture, quite distinctly calcareous (formed of lime) and easily split into thin leaves along the planes of lamination.” This is the St. Lawrence limestone of the Minnesota geologists, and the quarry beds below should probably be included with it under the same name. In it are found the fossil impressions of a trilobite, an ancient animal having a little resemblance to a crawfish without the claws. Also what may have been a giant sponge, three or more feet across and a foot or more high.

A fine exposure containing the characteristic fossils of this formation is found on the top of the hill of Dresbach at Lansing.

Above the St. Lawrence limestone lies another bed of sand called the Jordan sandstone. At Lansing the top of this bed lies 100 feet above the top of the exposed St. Lawrence which would make the sandstone 100 feet thick, but as the rock forming the bluff side for forty feet above the St. Lawrence ledge is concealed by a covering of loose rock and soil it is more than likely that the sandstone is not so thick, but that the St. Lawrence is thicker than the part that can be seen. Except near the top, Jordan is a deposit of incoherent sand, in places having numerous harder, very irregular layers, that when the softer part is washed or blown away, for very curious designs and figures in relief, a common one in cliff faces being that of a giant hour glass. Occasionally these concretionary forms are very regular, taking the form of almost perfect spheres, from the size of a marble up to those having a diameter of a foot or more. Where such occur they are often found washed out a numbers and strewn along on the bottom of the drainage ravines cutting the formation.
Farther south towards the central part of the state, where the dip has carried this sand bed several hundred feet below the surface, it is one of the notable reservoirs for artesian water. But in Allamakee it is too high to afford flowing wells, through in the central, western and southern part of the county, deep wells find in it an abundance of water but not artesian.

Near the top the grains of sand are usually very coarse. The formation is barren of fossils, and had no economic value except for use in making mortar.

Above the Jordan lie beds of impure limestone alternating with sandy layers gradually changing to heavy beds of pure limestone. At places cherty or flinty strata are to be found with some quartzite. These beds, having a total thickness of around 200 feet, were given the name of Oneota limestone by Professor Calvin because they form the conspicuous vertical cliffs and escarpments along that stream from near its mouth westward to and beyond the boundary line of the county. This was the lower Magnesian limestone of the older geologists.

The upper heavy beds afford an abundant and convenient supply of excellent building stone. Quarries have been opened in them at New Albin, Lansing, near Dorchester and inn many other places.

Scattered abundantly through the rock at a horizon near the center, are very thin veins, layers and incrustations of iron ore, often beautifully crystallized, but so much diffused through the rock as to be of no commercial value. Associated with it is much crystallized calcite, a rock having the appearance of milky glass, but soft enough to scratch with the point of a knife.

Lead, too, is found in it in places. Many years ago prospectors found this ore in the hills along Mineral creek, in section 13, of Hanover township. It is said that about one hundred thousand pounds were taken out of crevices at this place. But the crevices “pinched out,” and no more being found, the miners went their ways, the cabins disappeared, and all that is now known about it is but little more than a tradition.

About the year 1891, Capt. J.M. Turner, discovered on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 10, township 99, range 4, about six miles northwest of Lansing, a lead bearing north and south vertical crevice which on development proved to have a length of 1,200 feet and a maximum depth of seventy-five feet, and from which about five hundred thousand pounds of ore was mined by a local company.

While float ore has been picked up in many different places in the northern part of the county where the Oneota outcrops, no other crevices containing it have been found in the Oneota except in the cherty layers which occur near the middle of the formation. In this in places, are found some very well preserved fragmental impressions of orthocerata (chambered shellfish), and gasteropods (snails).

The crevices and seams make this a dry rock. In sections of the county immediately underlaid by it, wells usually have to be drilled entirely through it into the Jordan sandstone before finding water.

The dip of the Oneota carries it out of sight near Clayton station midway between McGregor and Guttenberg. In going by train from Waukon Junction to McGregor this dip is very noticeable in the Wisconsin bluffs on the opposite side of the river. Beginning at the very tops opposite Harper’s Ferry, when the Wisconsin river is reached, they have dropped to near the bases of the bluffs and disappear a few miles below the mouth of that river.

This maker of bold headlands, high precipices, and altogether rugged and picturesque scenery, is succeeded by twenty to twenty-five feet of a thin bedded red sandstone known as the New Richmond Sandstone. The layers of this formation, mostly one to three inches in thickness, are formed of a fairly coherent red sand, differing from the sand making up the beds of the Dresbach, Jordan and later St. Peter, by having each separate grain surrounded by a coating or incrustation of silica or crystallized quartz, the facets of which make it sparkle in the sunlight. Near the bottom are thicker and much harder strata, in places being beautifully ripple marked, one such locality being in an exposure by the roadside near the southeast corner of Southwest, Northwest, Section 29, Town 98, Range 3, Lafayette township. At the top it is again a close-grained quartzite. The central portion of this sand rock breaks down very easily and is usually covered by gentle slopes of clay and soil and is only seen in ditches and gullies. A very good exposure of nearly the entire thickness can be seen in the ditch at the side of the road near the top of the Hartley hill in Southeast, Southeast, Section 3, Town 99, Range 5.

The change from the Oneota limestone to the New Richmond sand is very abrupt, enough so as to lead to a suspicion of slight unconformity.

So far in the rock formations we have been describing, there is no break in the continuity. One stratum laid down on the old sea bottom was succeeded by another perhaps a little different, deposited under perhaps slightly different conditions, but there was no sudden and complete change indication that deposition under certain conditions had ceased, and after a period, during which the sea bottom had probably been elevated and become dry land, and its surface worn and gullied by erosion and again sunk beneath the waves and deposition commenced anew under changed circumstances, the strata of the new sea bottom being spread continuously over the broken and worn layers of the old.

Where such a condition is shown by the rock exposures it is called an unconformity. There is a very decided such unconformity between the Dresbach and the quartzite on which it rests. But from there on, while the old sea over what is now Iowa was very shallow, and there must have been great areas of mud flats and low sandy islands over which the waves washed, no part was above the water for any great length of time and the formation is unbroken and continuous through the Dresbach, the St. Lawrence, the Jordan, and the Oneota. At the close of the Oneota there may have been an elevation above the sea for a long enough period to show some of the effects of erosion, after subsidence the New Richmond being laid down on this slightly changed bottom.

The thicker, harder slabs of this rock made good building stone, but are not readily accessible except where washed down into the gullies and ditches. Such rocks are easily recognizable, two to four inches of the center being uncolored, while about the same thickness on both the under and upper side of the slab is stained red by oxide of iron.

Superimposed on the New Richmond is the Shakopee limestone, a lime formation quite largely dolomitic, but not usually massive, having but little good quarry stone, and “not showing much tendency to form cliffs.” It has an approximate thickness of fifty feet and is chiefly of interest on account of numerous “peculiar structures,” at certain horizons that are supposed to be fossils of large animal formations of a very low order called cryptozoons. The very oldest animal or plant remains discovered fossil so far belong to this low order, which may be either plant or animal,-or neither.

Nest in the ascending scale is the St. Peter sandstone, so called because of its outcrops being very abundant near St. Peter, Minnesota. This is simply a vast bed of incoherent and nearly pure sand having a very uniform thickness of from sixty to one hundred feet, extending southward and westward under Iowa, Illinois, and Southern Wisconsin and Minnesota. There is no bedding or stratification except in a few places where, for local reason unknown, it has been hardened into a firm quartzite, excellent for building purposes. Usually it can be readily dug with a pick and shovel. Exposure to the atmosphere has a tendency to harden it so that continuous low cliffs or ledges are common where it outcrops. In places portions of the body harden into domes ten to twenty feet high, underneath which the sand seem even less coherent than usual. Where such domes are cut through by stream valleys, the softer part is often washed out, forming small caves. Such a cave is to be seen beside the public road on southeast, northeast, section 8, town 96, range 5, about one mile south of Forest Mills in Franklin township.

Contrary to the usual opinion this loose sand rock appears to be more resistant to weathering and erosion than the limestone formation beneath and the shales and limestones above. And in the northern and central parts of the county in Waterloo, Hanover, French Creek, Lansing, Center and Lafayette townships, its runs from the main divides between Paint Creek, Village Creek and the Oneota River out along the minor ridges between the numerous tributary stream valleys, in long, narrow tongues, forming a very decided step up from the peneplain or level of the top of the Oneota, of its full thickness. Usually these tongues are capped by a thin veneer of a few feet of Platteville limestone, but nowhere does the limestone approach near to the edge of the vertical scarps of the sandstone, much less over-hand it as it would do were the latter the less resistant.

The dendritic divides described above are marked features of the landscape all along the northern and eastern boundary of the St. Peter.

The dip carries it beneath the river at Guttenberg.

Except near its northeastern limit it is the source of an abundant pure water supply, furnishing artesian wells from Elkader, near its boundary, down to the south central part of the state.

At Clayton, in Clayton county, it has been mined for thirty years on a small scale, and shipped to Clinton and Milwaukee for glass and malleable iron manufacture. At this place there seems to be almost no impurity or coloring, what little there is being washed out in moving it by water in a trough several hundred feet, from the pit to the bins beside the railroad. At this place, in 1910, the point of contact with the Shakopee was exposed in the ravine alongside, and from what could be seen there seemed to be unconformity between the two formations.

All along the top of the St. Peter from a few inches to a foot or more, is highly impregnated with iron oxide which has cemented it into a very hard cap stratum very resistant to erosion. At places, like the pictured rocks below McGregor, the oxide seems to have been present in greater abundance and to
have penetrated deeply into the formation, coloring it beautiful shades of red, brown, yellow and pink. The side of a cut about one mile northeast of Waukon on the railroad to the Iron Mine shows some fine coloring

The St. Peter changes very abruptly at its top to a three-foot bed of blue slightly sandy shales containing imperfect fossil bryozoon corals. This is the Glenwood shale, so called because of a number of good exposures studied by Calvin in Glenwood township, Winneshiek county.

The Glenwood shales again change quite as abruptly as their top to the Platteville limestone. This, as the bottom, is often massive and dolomitic for the first four to six feet. Above that it changes to thin, hard beds that break up much in weathering and that contain an abundance of fossil fragments of brachipods (shellfish, whose shells somewhat resemble those of small clams), corals and gasteropods. These strata, in their turn, near the top of the formation, change to heavy bedded quarry stone, some of which are excellent for building purposes, while others that are solid and firm when freshly quarried crumble on exposure to the action of frost and rain. The rock wall around the courtyard at Decorah is built of this latter kind.

Some layers of these beds are in places composted entirely of comminuted fragments of fossil shells and corals, cemented together into a hard stone. At Decorah a number of years ago such layers were sawed up into slabs and polished, making beautiful “fossil marble,” used for mantels, table tops and others such purposes.

The Platteville, limestone has a thickness of about fifty feet. Good, partial exposures can be seen in the ravines just north of Waukon, to the west of the Ice Cave at Decorah, near Hesper, where the quarry stone beds have been worked for building purposes for years, and on Yellow river below Myron.

This is the first of the highly fossiliferous formations. Up to this horizon fossils are rare when the whole rock mass is considered, but from this point upward through the succeeding ages, animal life, judging from the fossil remains, was very abundant and of an endless variety.

Beginning with the very lowest forms of life there came into existence successively, higher and still higher forms culminating finally with man.

The platteville changes quite abruptly so far as physical appearance is concerned, but without great change of fossils, and comfortably, to the Decorah shales, a highly fossiliferous bed of clay, shales, and thin strata of limestone, having a thickness of twenty-five to thirty feet. There is an abundance of beautifully preserved, complete and unbroken fossils in this bed of shales, the great body of which is made up largely of powdered and broken fragments of corals and shells. The predominating kinds are bryozoon, corals, true corals, brachiopods, gasteropods, lamellibranchs (clams) and trilobites.

Wherever an exposure of several feet of greenish-blue clay and shales with layers of limestone, all containing fossil corals and brachipods, is seen anywhere in the south half of Allamakee county it may be safely set down as Decorah shale.

Probably it is nowhere better exposed than in its numerous outcrops in the vicinity of Waukon.

Overlying the Decorah shale, and resting on it conformably, is from 200 to 250 feet of bedded limestone known as the Galena Limestone. This is the lead bearing limestone of the Galena-Dubuque region but it contains no lead ore in Allamakee county. At Dubuque it consists of massive dolomite but in Allamakee, of thin bedded strata of carbonate of lime rock, separated in places by thin shale and clay partings. It is a hard rock weathering slowly into vertical cliffs with a tendency to recede at their bases, where cut through by streams. Fine exposures can be seen in the vicinity of Myron, on the southeast, southeast of section 17, in Post township, and along the north line of section 18 in Franklin township.

In all this great body of limestone there is little really good building stone, the strata being for the most part too thin, irregular or fragmentary. The whole formation is much broken up by two sets of fissures or crevices which intersect each other nearly at right angles.

These crevices are the cause of the “sinkholes” found in Ludlow, Post, and Jefferson townships, the overlying loess and soil having been washed down into the crevices leaving funnel shaped depressions in the surface.

The Galena is usually a dry rock, the numerous fissures giving the underground water a chance to run off to lower levels.

Fossils are not abundant except at certain horizons and are usually in the form of casts. Gasteropods and orthoceratites are the most common. At about twenty-five feet above the base, a fossil commonly spoken of as a “petrified sun flower” occurs quite plentifully. It was not a sunflower at all-not even a plant, but was an ancient sponge. At a higher level, not far below the top of the formation, it is again found, but not so plentifully.

The Galena merges so gradually into the overlying Elgin limestone of the Maquoketa formation that the division line may be said to be an arbitrary one. There is a change in the fossils,-gasteropods, the most abundant fossil of the Galena, giving way to trilobites in the Maquoketa. This member of the formation has a thickness of eighty feet and is succeeded by the Clermont shale, a bed of blue clay and limestone with a thickness of thirty feet. In these shales are found some finely preserved fossil brachipods, of different species and larger size than those in the Decorah shales. In the limestone below is found the first coiled chambered orthoceratite.

At the Clement shale is impervious to water it holds that which enters the ground above it from going lower. Underlying the southwest part of Post township at a depth of sixty to one hundred feet, good wells are had there with an abundant supply of pure water by drilling down to, but not through it. It is from this clay bed that the Clermont white brick is made. The highest and newest formation of indurated rock found in Allamakee county is the Fort Atkinson limestone, a yellow crumbly limestone containing much chert, a few small outcrops of which are found in the southwest part of Post township.

Altogether there is exposed in, and underlies the county, over 1,000 feet of beds of stratified limestones, sandstones, and shales and clays as shown in the ideal section in the plates at the end of this article. Seven hundred feet of Dresbach sandstone lies below the Mississippi river, so we may say that we have studied a stratified layer of the earth’s crust one-third of a mile in thickness.

Ages long was the time it took to lay down this thousand feet of sand and clay and lime at the bottom of the oceans of the hoary past. Ages long has been the time since the receding shores left the region we have been studying high and dry above the waters. And through these latter ages heat and cold, snow and rain and ice, frost and percolating water and wind, have been busy tearing down, dissolving and wearing away that which it had taken so long to build up, carrying it away to newer oceans and laying it down again in newer deposits of sand and clay and lime.

It is estimated that erosion lowers the entire valley of the Mississippi river one foot in five thousand years.

There is no doubt but that since the wearing away of the Mississippi valley began it has been lowered many hundreds of feet. At one period for thousands of years it was held in the grip of the great glacier that plowed off the ridges and filled in the valleys of the ancient watercourses. Part of Allamakee, Clayton and Dubuque counties alone of all Iowa escaped.

The oldest glacier, the Kansan, invaded the southwest part of the county, traces of it being found as far east of Waukon. Only a remnant of its ground moraine is left in places under the loess. A few inches or feet of red sandy clay filled with pebbles of granite, greenstone and quartz. The best exposure of this till in the county is probably the one to be seen beside the road from Waukon to Postville on the section line on the east side of the northeast, northeast, section 34, town 98, range 6.

A lobe of the later Iowan glacier covered a few sections in the extreme southwest of the county. Time enough intervened between the melting away of the Kansan ice and the oncoming of the Iowan, for an abundant forest growth to take possession of the land, continuing long enough to form a bed of humus and soil one to two feet thick,-a thicker bed than is found in the forests of this age in this locality. In digging wells at Postville this ancient soil or “forest bed” as it is called is struck at a depth of twenty to forty feet from the surface between the till left by the Iowan glacier and that of the older Kansan. Pieces of roots, trunks and twigs of trees are found in this old soil.

When the great Iowan glacier that lay to the west of us was receding, the rivers that reached it, like the Turkey, the Oneota and the Root, were enormously swollen by the flood of water from the melting ice. This water was heavily laden with silt, and sand and pebbles were carried down by the current.

It is this silt, and sand and pebbles, left by those floods, that formed the benches or terraces of the ONeota, and the other rivers named, and of the Mississippi at New Albin, Harper’s Ferry, Prairie du Chien, Guttenberg and other places.

A few pieces of native copper are said to have been found in the county. Such were undoubtedly brought from the Lake Superior region by the Indians to be used in making their copper implements and ornaments, many of which are found with other prehistoric relics in the Oneota and Mississippi valleys.

Gold dust has been found in the sand deposits washed out of the Iowan drift, just over the line on the Judge Williams farm in Clayton county. Near the farm buildings is a pit in one of these sand out-washes, and to it the barnyard fowls resorted for gravel, and from their crops at different times several dozen flakes of gold were taken. It is supposed that the chickens, attracted by the shiny gold, picked it out of the sand. There are no similar deposits in Allamakee. At one time considerable excitement was occasioned by the reported discovery of gold in the cherty strata of the Oneota limestone near Prairie du Chien, and some mining operations were commenced but were soon abandoned. Whether or not there really were traces of gold in the rock at the place is not known.

About two miles north and a half mile east of the corporate limits of Waukon, in the center of section 17, Makee township, is a deposit of iron ore having an area of about two hundred and forty acres.

This ore deposit known as the “Iron Hill” is the highest point in Allamakee county, having an elevation of 1,320 feet above sea level.

Another high point along the south line of the southeast quarter of section 27 in the same township is capped by a much smaller deposit, and about a mile east of this near the Fan school, at a lower elevation, some boulders can be seen by the roadside.

At both the first named places the ore with its associated impurities occurs as a lenticular deposit, having its greatest thickness at the center,-about seventy feet in the Iron Hill, and thinning out to nothing at the edges.

The Iron Hill deposits rests on limestone of lower Galena formation, that on section 27 probably on rock of the same formation, though possibly on Decorah shales or Platteville. Over both deposits there is a thin veneer of from one to three feet of yellow loess. The ore itself occurs in abundant small flakes, scales, and particles, called wash ore, disseminated through the associated clays, and in irregular concretionary masses of all sizes from those of a few inches in diameter up to many feet. These larger “boulders” are found at any level, sometimes singly and at others bunched together in large masses. All the “chunks” and “boulders” are filled with very irregular pockets and cavities, some of which are empty, some lined with crystallized ore, and some containing different colored clays or sad.

The impurities associated with the ore are residual clays, sand and chert, and these form quite a considerable part of the whole, the entire deposit forming a very heterogeneous mass.

Fossils of the lower Galena are found scattered through the deposit seemingly at all horizons, in places being quite common. Sometimes they are found imbedded solidly in fragments of ore broken from the boulders. Perhaps the most common is the coral, Streptelasma Corniculum.

Professor Calvin advanced the theory that this was a deposit of bog ore formed by precipitation from the waters of a marsh or bog that were highly charged with iron oxide. This accumulation of iron ore at the bottom of bogs and marshes in this way is quite common in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He supposed the existence of an ancient marsh surrounded by higher ground. As time passed the surrounding land or rock was eroded away until it became lower than the more resistant ore bed which resisted as a high point, afterward being covered by loess.

If this theory be true then the rocks of the land around this marsh could not have been of later age than the lower Galena, as none of the fossils washed out of that surrounding rock into the marsh and now found in the ore bed, are of later age than the lower Galena. Also as the existence of marshes implies a flat country with little drainage, and as all the ore deposits occurring near Waukon were evidently laid down at the same time, and most likely were formed in different parts of a chain of marshes of the same age, these ores may be of very ancient formation, since the entire valley of Village creek may have all been cut down since that time.

At certain places in the deposit are found very compact chunks and boulders of ore filled with smoothly rounded, waterworn pebbles of different varieties of quartz, greenstone and other rocks usually associated with the drift, of a size from one-eighth to one inch in diameter. Such pieces or ore are usually so hard that in breaking them up the line of fracture will run through ore and pebbles alike.

Identically the same kind of small pebbles are found in abundance under the loess and on top of both limestone and St. Peter sandstone in the vicinity of the ore deposit.

These pebbles may have found their way here from the north by some very ancient drainage system that disappeared years ago, or they may be outwash from or residue of the Kansan or Iowan glacier, in which case our ore bed is comparatively recent.

If the deposit is a bog formation of an old marsh in the ancient preglacial peneplain, then the presence of quartz pebbles and other foreign rocks transported from localities hundreds of miles to the north presents an interesting phenomenon, not easy to account for.

On the other had the absence of glacial till under or around the ore deposit; the character of the associated clays and sands which seem to be clearly residual rock products and not derived from drift; and the fact that all the evidence goes to show that the valley of Village creek separating the two principal deposits, and of all other streams in Allamakee, were cut down to their present levels in preglacial times, shows a preglacial origin. In fact it is pretty well settled that the topography of the county was almost wholly (except in the river valleys) formed before the coming of the ice.

Besides waters drained from any probable tributary area of till would not be likely to contain sufficient iron in chemical solution to form so large a deposit. It is true that the Buchanan Gravels, an outwash from the Kansan, are often much stained and cemented by iron, but nowhere is there more than enough to make more than a few inches of ore if the gravels were removed.

To Mr. Chas. Barnard, a pioneer resident of Waukon, belongs the credit of first calling attention to this ore deposit. About the year 1900 local capital was interested, a concentration plant built. And the development of a mine begun. The plant was located near the center of the area, on a re-entrant of the east edge, and consisted of a crusher and log washer driven by steam power. The ore was freed from flint by hand picking.

A pit having an area of about one-fourth acre was excavated to about one-half the depth of the ore bed, and the resultant cleaned product shipped to different markets. But a number of causes, chief among which was the cost of hauling by team from the mine three miles to the railroad, operated to make the venture unprofitable and work was abandoned.

About 1909 the interests of the local company, the Waukon Iron Company, were acquired by the Missouri Iron Company of St. Louis, Missouri. This company has erected a large concentration plant for the reduction of the ore, to which a spur railroad has been built from Waukon.

The work is in charge of Mr. R. W. Erwin, by whom a paper further describing this ore deposit and the processes used by his company in concentrating it is found elsewhere in this volume.

Iron Hill (page 99)
The deposit covers an area of one-half mile east and west by one mile north and south and is slightly in the shape of a crescent with its terminal points to the northeast and southeast, and is situated in township 98, range 5 west of the fifth principal meridian in section 17, and is some two and one-half miles north by east of Waukon, Iowa, and has an extreme elevation of 1,320 feet, although ore is found at an elevation of 1,250 feet. This is one of the highest points in the state and is the highest point in a direct north and south line between the Lakes and the Gulf.

Geological Character (page 99-105)
In general the conditions are similar to those encountered in the Brown ore deposits of the southern States, being different, however, in the fact that there is very little or no sand associated with the residual clay. It is a brown ore, a hydrated sesquioxide of iron and is made up of probably the following types:

Chemical Formula


Turgite ......................2Fe2o31H2o
Gothite .....................2Fe2o2 2H2o
Limonite ...................2Fe2o3 3H2o
Xanthrosiderite ........2Fe2o3 4H2o

Iron Ox.





In which the Limonite predominates, next in order coming Gothite with small quantities of Turgite and Xanthrosiderite. They resemble most of all the Oriskany ores of Virginia.

The body rests upon a limestone strata of the Lower Silurian age (Galena Trenton) which has a depth of some forty feet, while the ore varies in depth from one inch to seventy-three feet. Below the limestone is the St. Peter sandstone with a depth of some ninety feet. Below this is the Oneota limestone some two hundred and fifty feet thick, when the Jordan sandstone is encountered. This is the water-bearing stratum of the country. The ore is concretionary and varies in size from a fraction of an inch to aggregation weighing twenty tons. At times these concretions are solid; other times they contain cavities which may be filled with sand in various stages of impurity-clay and round pebbles of clay. These cavities vary in size from a fraction of an inch to a foot or more and possess the spherical shapes usual in nodular structures.

The ore body contains throughout its entirety, clay, gravel, sand, chert or flint nodules of various forms and shapes. In some instances the sand and gravel are cemented together by the iron, forming masses of considerable size. This also holds true of the gravel. The boulders of conglomerate are found in all parts of the deposit-in the richest as well as the leanest.

The ore as it occurs in situ has the following analysis:

Iron.....................................................................................31.82 per cent
Phos..................................................................................207 per cent
Manganese.......................................................................60 per cent
Silica..................................................................................41.80 per cent
Alum.................................................................................. 7.27 per cent
Water................................................................................. 6.40 per cent

This may be taken as an average. Samples may be taken which will run 60 per cent in iron.

It is generally assumed that all brown ore bodies are replacement bodies in limestone. Suffice it to say that this deposit is of recent origin, owing to it depth and the very large number of rounded quartz pebbles which may be found. Another fact is the round clay balls often found on the interior of large boulders of ore.

The ore is of two classes: Wash Ore and Boulder Ore. By wash ore is meant the smaller concretions embedded in clay. Boulder ore is solid and the masses are separated by joints of clay.

The body is estimated to contain 10,000,000 tons of ore.

In January, 1907, Iron Hill, as it was locally known, was brought to the attention of Mr. Edward F. Goltra, of St. Louis, Missouri, who turned the prospect over to Mr. R. W. Erwin. The prospect looked favorable, and as Mr. Goltra and associates were in the market for an iron mine at the time, after further investigation, R. W. Erwin came to Waukon and secured an option on the property from the Waukon Iron Company and at once made arrangements for the exploration of the property by drilling and test pitting. This property was sufficiently explored so that Mr. Goltra and his associated felt that there was sufficient ore for a commercial period.

The next thing to be done after finding out that there was sufficient ore, as the ore was of low grade, was that of finding a process of concentrating the ore in a commercial way. After going into the matter thoroughly it was decided to locate an experimental plant at Waukon Junction, Iowa, as it was intended to use water as a cleaning agent. This was done and a plant was thoroughly equipped with crusher, washer, jigs, rolls, tables and roaster for trying out a number of processes in a commercial way. A series of experiments covering some two years was undertaken to find out the best and most economical method of treating the ore. In trying out the various methods and when practically all the experiments had been completed, a process of dry treatment had been evolved. In this no water was used, heat and electricity being the agents employed. In view of this fact it was decided to vacate the plant entirely at the Waukon Junction and put the concentrating plant closer to the mine.

A plant site and right of way was purchased and in 1910 a railroad was built to the mine and work on a permanent plant started. This was completed in June, 1912 and increased in 1913. The method of treatment consists essentially in first drying the ore as it is mined by steam shovels, going from there to the crushers, screening out the finer particles of sand and clay in a large screen and cobbing out the larger size gangue, roasting and reducing the ore from Fe2O3 to Fe2O4 and magnetically separating the product below one-half inch in size. The method is entirely original and is in use in no other place in the world, and had been devised and worked out on a commercial basis at Waukon. The company has now completed a plant which will have a capacity of 350 to 400 tons of finished iron ore per day. It is expected to increase this capacity to 1,000 tons per day. The ore is especially desirable for making pig iron for open hearth use. The concentrated ore has an analysis of from 55 to 61 per cent metallic iron; 8 to 12 percent silica; .50 to 1.25 per cent manganese, with phosphorus slightly above the Bessemer limit. Owing to its physical character-viz.-large pieces from one-fourth to two and one-half inches in diameter, make it a specially desirable and easy working ore in the blast furnace. Owing also to its porous character which has been left by the expulsion of combined water, it “comes down” very easily in the blast furnace, and requires less fuel for smelting than the Mesaba ores. The ore as it occurs in the ground is known as a hydrated sesquioxide of iron, or, a brown hematite, containing from 10 to 14 per cent of combined water. It is to relieve the ore of this water and also of the free water and to free it of clay and sand and prepare it for reduction that the frying and roasting is given it.

The property was more thoroughly explored in 1910 for the Missouri Iron Company by the Wisconsin Steel Company. In all, some 300 test pits and drill holes have been put down to bed rock, and 10,000 analyses made.

The Missouri Iron Company now have a thoroughly equipped and up to date plant. The power plant contains two 220-hp. Westinghouse gas engines, direct connected to generators and a 440-hp. Automatic gas producer with the necessary scrubbers; one 250 hp. Motor generator set; a deep well, 400 feet deep, equipped with a eight and three-fourths inch Downie pump, which affords an abundant supply of pure water. Machine shop and blacksmith shop adjoin power plant. Crushers, screen, dryer, roasters, reducers, sizer, magnetic separators, bins, etc., are of steel construction of very best type. All the machinery is individually motor driven. Ore is brought from the mine in seven-yard electric cars which are under the control of central operators. The ore is blasted and then loaded into cars by a 70-ton, two and one-half yard, Vulcan steam shovel. Track is standard gauge and laid with 60-lb. Rails-double tracks, one for loaded cars, the other for empty cars. Coal is received in hopper-bottom cars and dumped directly into bins. All departments of the plant are connected with the office by a central telephone station. A complete chemical laboratory is maintained.

The officers of the company are as follows; Edward F. Goltra, president, St. Louis, Missouri; Thomas S. Maffitt, vice president, St. Louis, Missouri; J. D. Dana, treasurer, St. Louis, Missouri; R. W. Erwin, general manager, Waukon, Iowa.

The regular working staff at Waukon consists of R. W. Erwin, manager and superintendent; Harry Orr, chief engineer; R. F. Burkhart, electrical engineer; Ernest Wander, chemist; Will Riley, chief clerk.

The foregoing sketch of the iron mine at Waukon, and the plant there installed by the Missouri Iron Company, was prepared at our request by Mr. R. W. Erwin, the resident manager. A detailed history of the gradual development of this mine cannot be given here, but an outline of the steps taken to bring the deposit to the attention of capitalists who could and would demonstrate its value as an important addition to the resources of Allamakee county, may be briefly stated. The main body of this tract came into the possession of Mr. John M. Barthell in the year 1875; and it was about this time that Mr. Charles Barnard began to insist that it contained a remarkable deposit of iron ore. Mr. Barnard came from an iron region, the vicinity of Pittsburg, and had a sufficient practical acquaintance with iron mining to know what he was talking about, however skeptical others might be. He enlisted in the cause Mr. A. M. May, editor of the Waukon Standard, who gave much attention to the matter in his columns, and the articles were widely copied and soon began to bring correspondence from iron men. Mr. Barnard, though engaged in other business, devoted much time to correspondence with a view to interest practical men of means in the enterprise, working early and late to bring about an investigation that would prove, what he fully believed, the practicability of working this mine with profit, to the great advantage of his community. Various parties visited the place, and numerous analyses were made of the ore, all indicating a paying percentage of iron, but all attempts made to negotiate working leases proved futile, from one cause or another. Some of the difficulties were the distance from water and fuel, and the absence of railroad transportation facilities.

It was not until the year of Mr. Barnard’s death, in 1898, that mining leases were made with Geo. S. Finney that began to promise a development of the mine. Numerous test pits had been dug, and all looked promising. Several shipments of ore had been made for practical tryout in the furnace, and these were continued from time to time, with promising results. The lease to Mr. Finney was “for the purpose of boring and mining for iron and other minerals for the period of twenty years from May 1, 1899. Second party to pay ten cents per ton royalty for all iron mined, and pay for annually 10,000 tons as a minimum output, whether mined or not. Lessee shall have the sole and exclusive option to purchase said premises at any time before the first day of May, 1901, at or for the sum of $20,000, less the amount of royalty already paid at time of purchase.” In April, 1900, Mr. Finney assigned his lease and option to George A. Nehrhood, and the Waukon Iron Company was organized and incorporated, with D. J. Murphy, president; C. H. Earle, vice president; Geo. A. Nehrhood, secretary, and S. H. Eddy, treasurer, who with M. K. Norton comprised the board of directors. The capital stock of the company was $50,000, which was increased to $500,000 in June of the following year. Mr. Nehrhood transferred the lease and option to this corporation, and a plant was erected for the reduction of the ore as stated by Mr. Orr in his chapter on the geology of the region.

The transportation question was one of the greatest problems to be solved, but in 1902 a promoter of interurban railroads appeared and incorporated “The Iowa Hematite Railway Company,” with the plausible purpose of connecting Lansing and Waukon with other points, and furnishing transportation of ore to Waukon or down the Village Creek valley to the Mississippi river. The incorporators were William Ingram, president, and Lewis W. Beard, secretary-treasurer, with a capital first placed at $25,000 but later increased to $250,000 with an authorization for an increase to $1,500,000. Franchises were obtained of the towns and of the county, but the scheme did not materialize.

John M. Barthell died in March, 1902, and his two sons, M. J. And B. F., became the owners of the property by transfer from the other heirs, and they in October, 1906, executed a deed of the premises to the Waukon Iron Company for the consideration originally named, $20,000. In 1907 the Missouri Iron Company with unlimited capital and experience to utilize it obtained control of the property, with the gratifying result as told by Mr. Erwin in his paper.

In this connection it is appropriate to give a brief sketch of Mr. Charles Barnard, who was instrumental in bringing this mine to the attention of the public. Born on the Isle of Wight, and on the farm later occupied by Queen Victoria’s summer residence, when a year and a half hold be was brought to America by his parents, Thomas and Mary Barnard, who settled on Wheeling island, in the Ohio river. Here he learned the rudiments of fruit growing, his father starting a nursery, and when he was about fifteen they moved to Belmont county, Ohio, and ran a market garden for the city of Wheeling. In 1865 he came to Iowa and settled at Waukon, where he engaged in the nursery business while he carried on very successfully until the close of a bush life. He was a practical man and wanted to see all our natural resources utilized. I t was at his insistence that L. W. Hersey united with him in building, of stone from local quarries, the double store on the east side of Allamakee street, in 1867. Two years later the upper story was finished off for a public hall, and Barnard Hall was for years the fall of the town. Mr. Barnard had two great desires; one the building of a local railroad, which he helped very materially to accomplish; and the other the development of the iron mine, which he began to see hope for previous to his death.


-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913, pg. 75 -105
-note: pages 79, 85, 91, 97 & 103 have photos and pages 80, 86, 92, 98 & 104 are blank
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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