Sunday, October 6, 2013

NS Industrial Project: Slag

Liz explores the slag heap near Ferrona, NS

In our "Week Two" update, we mentioned visiting a slag heap near the former town of Ferrona, NS, but gave no further information. After discovering another slag heap in the once iron ore mining community of Londonderry, NS, we felt we should elaborate. 

Slag heap near Londonderry, NS
In the late 1800's Londonderry was known as Acadia Mines, and was one of the largest and most successful iron ore mining locations in Nova Scotia. Once home to nearly 5,000 residents, it is now just shy of 200. Historically, when the iron ore was smelted, the impurities (slag) would separate from the iron and would be scraped off into ladle cars while still in a molten state. From there, the slag would be carted by rail or horse to a nearby site and dumped, thus cooling and forming large mineral deposits commonly called slag heaps.

Layers of slag formed over the years.
It was shocking to see how different the slag was in colour and texture between Londonderry and Ferrona. 
In both locations, you could clearly see how the layers formed from the repeated pouring of slag over many years. It became clear to us—through some minor research—that the slag varied depending on mineral make up of the iron ore being smelted and the ground conditions of the surrounding rock and soil. Exploring these landscapes, it was hard to imagine what it might have looked like some hundred years ago. To us, these piles of slag serve as a defiant reminder of the industrial history these communities share.

Detail from Ferrona, NS

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