Swain County, N.C.
Altitude: 1,900 feet
On January 7, 1890, B.B. Royall wrote from Hewitts, N.C., to Dr. William F. Tompkins, concerning his interest in the commercial potential in western North Carolina’s natural resources. Hewitts had been named for the owner of a talc mine at that location, Frank R. Hewitt. This letter is indicative of the interest in industrial development after the arrival of the railroad, such as the exploration for prospective mineral and timber resources. Tompkins, to whom the letter was addressed, was a physician and businessman in Jackson County, N.C. The text of the letter reads,
“I recd. the specimens of nickel &c. The yellow hard mineral is not large enough for the purpose I wished, & if you can in any way get me a piece 3” x 4” x 6” I would pay what it is worth. I send you today the 7th with several pieces of talc two nice plaques, which I trust our mutual friend C— will manage to get to you without breaking. Did you get the Exams monthly.”
The 1900 report by Joseph Hyde Pratt, Talc and Pyrophyllite Deposits in North Carolina, described the talc mining operations at Hewitt:
“North Carolina Talc and Mining Company. – The most important work done east of Red Marble gap is at Hewitt station, by the North Carolina Talc and Mining Company, of which Frank A. [sic] Hewitt is manager. The talc deposits here are on the south face of a hill rising almost directly from the Nantahala river . . . . The deposit has been worked for about 500 feet in length by the North Carolina Company, and they have cut into the bed of talc to a depth of nearly 40 feet . . . . During the past year (1899) over 900 tons of talc were mined and shipped, . . . .” (pp. 15 – 16)
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