One of the earliest mined natural
resources in this area was iron ore. The early settlers used the iron to make weapons,
tools, and utensils. The first iron works was built in 1793 by
Hezekiah Boon, John McEyea, and Joseph Sands. The business was not
successful and was sold to Godfrey Carriger, Jr. for the taxes that were owed on it.
Joseph Gentry and Lewis Wills established an Iron Works in 1797 on the Laurel. John Dugger an his brother William settled in the Dry Run community and founded a forge there. John Dugger's sons, William and Abel, operated the Cranberry Iron Works for many years.
By 1820 eight iron works existed in what is now Johnson County with 106 men employed. The profits were $20,700 with $44,750 worth of iron being produced. The mine owners were:
|John Ward and Company|
|Huse Warden and Company|
|G. Patterson and Company|
|Nathaniel Taylor and sons|
|Abel Dugger and Company|
By 1836 there were two iron works on Roan Creek, two on the Little Doe Creek, two on Laurel Fork, on on Beaverdam Creek, and one on Dry Run Creek.
Mining brought railroads to the county in the late 1800s. The first railroad tracks were built in 1899 by the Virginia and Southwestern Railroad. They would go from Elizabethton to Mountain City. By 1910 the track was completed not only to Mountain City, but on to Shouns. Tracks were later built into Shady Valley. Another track was laid along Laurel Creek to Goose Creek into Mountain City. All the trains carried timber, iron ore, and manganese as well as passengers. When the mining industry slowed the railroads were used by the lumber industry which began to grow in the early 1900s.
Today the two major natural
resources are sold in Johnson County. They are the mining of limestone and the milling of
lumber. The major trees that are sawed for lumber are oak, pine,
poplar, hickory, and maple. Mountain City Lumber, Shouns Lumber, and
Stalcup Lumber cut and mill thirteen different species of trees.
The Maymead Company, a limestone mine operation, began in 1930. Maymead mines 6,000 tons of limestone each year. It also mines 500,000 tons of granite annually.
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