42nd Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Bryson City to the Nantahala Talc and Limestone Quarry
Swain County, North Carolina
May 7, 2006
By Mike Streeter

The 42nd Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals was held in Asheville, North Carolina and was hosted by the North Carolina Geological Survey. It was my honor to help out with a pre-meeting field trip to the Nantahala Talc & Limestone Quarry. The advertised description of the trip was as follows:

"Climb aboard for a unique geological experience! This charter railroad train excursion will take you through a beautiful section of western North Carolina with scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fontana Lake and Nantahala Gorge. The trip's destination is the Nantahala Talc and Limestone Company's quarry at Hewitt, an active crushed stone quarry in the Murphy Marble that was once mined for talc. This two and a half hour stop in the quarry will provide an opportunity to examine the geology, do a little sample collecting, and observe the mining and processing of crushed stone. In addition, lunch will be served during this stop. On the return trip the train will stop at two additional points of geological interest." (from www.geology.enr.state.nc.us/)

The excursion was attended by geologist, engineers and spouses from all over the country and world. But rather than prattle on about the very successful day, I'll let the following pictures and captions tell the rest of the story.

Getting ready to board the Great Smoky
Mountains Railroad's train in Bryson City

Co-leader & NC Geological Survey's
Carl Merschat (upper left) talking geology

Crossing over Lake Fontana
at Almond RR bridge

Lake Fontana

Carl and Holly Merschat
(many spouses attended the trip)

NC Engineering Geologist
and co-leader Don Hathaway

Nantahala River

Group gathers at Nantahala
Talc and Limestone Quarry

President Jack Herbert
welcomes the group to his quarry

Co-leader & NC Geological Survey's
Bart Cattanach talks geology

Carl Merschat talks geology in quarry

A crowd gathered before Carl
turned them loose to collect

Stop the train, there's
geology in them thar hills!