Gleason Hosts Minerals Day
BY JASON MARTIN
GLEASON (October 6) — Gleason’s Snider Park and the Gleason Downtown Revitalization Committee (GDRC) hosted Minerals Day last Friday. The free event was open to the public with an estimated 1,000 individuals in attendance. Over 600 middle and high school students were in attendance from Weakley and Henry County schools.
The event was sponsored by local clay mining operations: Imerys Ceramics/K-T Clay, Gleason Clay Company, Old Hickory Clay and Lhoist North America/ HC Spinks. Booths, canopies and tents were set up providing members of the community the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what takes place in the mining of ball clay.
Vendors present were Meridian Brick, KR Trucking, Sims and Sons Trucking, Thompson Machinery CAT, Pepsi, Simply Southern Café and Catering Gleason Lumber Company, K and D Designs, Earthen Vessels Pottery and Bistro, Tri State Truck, Power Equipment, Scott Equipment Co., Union City Forklift, Komatsu Machinery, Volvo Machines and the Bank of Gleason.
Door prizes, free food and cold drinks were available throughout the day. Presentations of 3D dimensional renderings of a mine were provided. Busses transported students and guests to an actual clay mine for a close up view of what takes place at a ball clay mine.
As part of IMA-NA, Industrial Minerals Association- North America, the local clay companies asked the GDRC to host Minerals Day on a neutral site. Minerals Day originated in Europe and has grown since its inception in 2007.
Gleason’s ball clay industry began in 1926 on the farm of W.R. Crawford. Some of the richest veins of clay in the area were discovered within the 20-acre plot. The Bell Clay Company started the arduous task of removing dirt and debris. The 25-man crew worked with pond scoops and horses each day to dig the mines. Holes were dug with hand augers and dynamite placed within to expose the Gleason Ball Clay.
Now, over 90 years later, multiple clay companies call Gleason home. The expansion of the usage of ball clay drives the ever growing industry. The sign on the edge of Gleason’s city limits reads “Welcome to Gleason: Ball Clay Mining Center of the Nation.” Weakley County’s deposit of the finest quality ball clay is used for china, porcelain, pottery and many other purposes.