Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Ducktown, TN Desert - Part II

[2007] The photo to the right was taken from the grounds of the old Burra Burra mine in Ducktown, now the site of the museum.  The name Burra Burra is from a famous Australian copper mine.

To the lower left, you can see a circular pit, the result of a partial mine collapse, circa 1925.  Beyond and to the right of the pit are the areas that have been left "fallow", i.e., reclaimed by nature with no human assistance. This is to offer the viewer a perspective of the damage that was done in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Beyond the fallow area, there is a fenceline, beyond which are the human-reforested areas, the results of a project that began in the early 1900s.  Also useful in the process was the modifications made to the roasting process, by which sulfur dioxide (SO2) was captured and converted to sulfur trioxide (SO3), then sold for the production of industrial sulfuric acid (H2SO4).

The area definitely looks better than it did when I first visited in early 1976, while on a Geology field trip. It still may be a few decades before hardwood trees are ready to grow on this reclaimed ground. 

The last of the Ducktown Basin copper mines closed in 1987.  This was largely due to the importation of copper from other countries and the increased expenses of operating here.  If you happen to be in the area, check for the date of the yearly "miners homecoming" music festival.

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