By Mary Martin
While most now realize the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has failed to study several, critical environmental and historic resource issues, one of the more interesting items in the ongoing debate about the U.S. 411 Connector is the historical significance of the Dobbins Mine site. As it stands, the mine site will be destroyed by GDOT’s proposed route (Route D-VE) and its planned interchange at Interstate 75.
Now if you remember, GDOT’s consultants never studied the full extent of Georgia’s oldest, most productive manganese mine and were informed last year by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that “further study to determine the eligibility of Dobbins Mine [for National Register of Historic Places status] is warranted.” DNR also suggested that GDOT use “archaeological methods better suited to identify and evaluate the eligibility of extant mining features.”
According to a recent report issued by Dr. Donald L. Hardesty, professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada-Reno, and Robert S. Webb, president and senior principal archeologist of R.S. Webb & Associates, Dobbins Mine is worthy of inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
In the report, Hardesty and Webb stated that Dobbins Mine is a “rare site that illustrates the advent, rise and fall of the manganese mining industry.” While Dobbins Mine is considered the oldest (1866) manganese mine in the state, it is also one of the oldest in the United States. Further, R.S. Webb & Associates recently plotted, mapped and photographed 92 mining features or groups of features on Dobbins Mine and the adjacent Milner-Harris Mine, which is east of Dobbins Mountain.
The authors of the study also determined Dobbins Mine was utilized during World War I for the production of helmets and other items (e.g. munitions) that relied upon manganese steel. Reports indicate, “A great deal of mining occurred at Dobbins Mine between 1916 and 1919, while under lease to Republic Iron and Steel.”
Additionally, Hardesty and Webb found that, “Dobbins Mine is closely associated with Arthur O. Granger, a prominent figure in the Civil War who subsequently played a pivotal role in the economy of Bartow County and became one of Georgia’s leading businessmen and industrialists.” In 2009, Granger, who was a principal of the Etowah Iron Company and operated Dobbins Mine, was inducted into the Bartow County Business Hall of Fame.
The authors of the report, which was commissioned by Cartersville Ranch LLC, are renowned mining experts with more than 60 years of combined experience. Hardesty, an internationally recognized expert in the history of mining and evaluating mining sites, has more than 30 years of experience working with cultural resources management issues associated with historic mining properties. Webb has 30 years of experience in private-sector cultural resources management and has supervised the survey and delineation of numerous mines in north Georgia.
In closing, the coalition firmly believes the Federal Highway Administration and DNR should ensure the historic preservation of the Dobbins Mine site by determining that it is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
Look for next week’s follow-up story that details Arthur Granger’s affiliation with Dobbins Mine and Bartow County.
About the Coalition for the Right Road
The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) is an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers. CORR is opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s current plans for the 411 Connector – Route D-VE – because of its high cost, inefficient interchange and environmental destruction. The coalition is committed to raising awareness of shorter, cheaper and less destructive routes, and is open to anyone who shares these concerns. For more information, visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, or sign our petition against Route D-VE at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/411corr/.