Scattered throughout Tennessee’s
Valley are a few
well-constructed rock configurations that resemble smaller versions of the
familiar limestone furnace stacks utilized by the charcoal iron industry to
smelt the raw ore during the nineteenth century. These structures are the remains of lime
kilns, once used to produce the fine powdered form of limestone that remains a
key ingredient of many essential commodities including mortar, plaster,
whitewash, soap, and fertilizer.
the early 1870s, a superior grade of limestone was discovered in the hilly
areas surrounding Erin, Arlington, and Stewart
in Houston County.
The preparation of lime provided work for a large number of local
laborers and it quickly became the main industry of the county. The high quality product found numerous
buyers within the region and was also shipped by rail to customers in many of
the surrounding states. By 1885 seven facilities
employing an estimated three hundred hands produced approximately 750 barrels
of the substance per day. Two companies
headquartered in Erin -- Harris
& Buquo and the Arlington
Lime Company -- controlled most of the lime production in the county. In addition, each firm operated a large stave
and heading factory in conjunction with their works in order to handle and ship
their product safely at a distance.
In January 1898 H.H. Buquo bought the Palmyra
Lime Company property in Montgomery
County for $3,000. Until then the company had been owned and
operated by M.M. Hussey. By July 1905
the plant was running at full capacity.
It shipped 500 to 600 barrels per week all over the South from its
location directly adjacent to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad line.
larger producers such as the Southland Lime Company began to dominate the
industry, they began to acquire smaller facilities. Eventually, the company bought the lime works
in Erin and Palmyra as well as other kilns in
By 1925, the Southland Lime Company had
closed. Although several firms tried to
market other products such as insecticides and water purification chemicals,
their efforts were unsuccessful and the lime kilns ceased to operate by the
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