For those who have not followed the Soldiers Delight story, links to the previous stories are listed below. In Part V, details of discovering chromite and its importance to the area was discussed. Here’s the rest of the Tyson – Chromite story.
While Isaac Tyson, Jr. was a geologist interested in the soil content of this area, his sons, Jesse and James, left a legacy to be remembered as well. They mined the area for fifty years, developed the use of chromite in the steel industry, which made a major impact on the building industry, Part of their legacy is the initial building of skyscrapers in New York City which relied on harder, stronger, heat, wear and corrosion resistant steel.
In 1890 Jesse and James Tyson left the mining business, having spent their entire life following their father’s dream of discovering, mining, and developing the use of minerals and chemicals. The chromite processing plant was sold in 1902. Jesse Tyson built “Cylburn” (more on that in another article). At the age of 66, Jesse married a girl of 20. James built a home next to the Cylburn Mansion. James passed away in 1900. His brother, Jesse, died in 1906.
It is well documented that Irish and German immigrants worked the mines. One of the last chromite mines that still exist is the Choate Mine located within the Soldiers Delight Park. It is restricted due to its rotting timbers that are nearly two hundred years old. The Choate Mine is named after Herod Choate. It is the most accessible and best preserved underground mine in Maryland. More than 3,000 tons of chromite was mined there. Unfortunately over the past century, the mine often fills with water which advances the dangerous deterioration of the rotting timbers and loose rocks.
Development claimed most of the serpentine barrens in Maryland. Less than five present of the original barrens still remain and are now part of the “Maryland Wildlands Preservation Act,” which was mentioned in Part I of this series.
The Soldiers Delight Series will continue as we look at the Economics and Ecology of the area. If you want to read the first five articles of the series, click the link above that takes you to all my columns. Enjoy!
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