The 1001th meeting of 

The Mineralogical Society


Southern California



The Silver Hill Mine:  America’s First Silver Mine and Supplier of Lead to the Confederacy

Presented by L. Michael Kaas

Friday, May 13, 2022 at  7:30.

See program notes below

Visitors are always welcome

About us…

The MSSC is a member of the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies and is dedicated to the dissemination of general knowledge of the mineralogical and related earth sciences through the study of mineral specimens.  We are a scientific non-profit organization that actively supports those endeavors through public outreach, field study and related programs.

For more information

Program Notes: Join us: Friday, May 13, 2022 at 7:30.

L. Michael Kaas: The Silver Hill Mine:  America’s First Silver Mine and Supplier of Lead to the Confederacy:

The Silver Hill Mine in Davidson County, North Carolina was the first important underground silver mine in America.  Discovered in 1838, it produced significant quantities of native silver and lead (cerussite) into the mid-1840’s.  As the mine deepened, the oxidized ores were depleted but abundant, rich, lead-zinc sulfide ores (galena and sphalerite) were encountered.  These complex ores presented the mine operators with difficult metallurgical problems.  Mine development and production slowed.  Nearly a decade passed as the owners experimented with new processing and smelting technologies.  These efforts were largely unsuccessful and the mine closed in the early 1850’s.  In 1858, the mine was purchased and reopened by Franklin Osgood of New York.

The Civil War created an urgent need for lead to supply Southern troops.  The Confederate government took over operation of the Silver Hill Mine to provide an alternate source of lead in case the mines at Austinville, Virginia should fall into Northern hands.  Lead concentrates with high silver values were shipped from Silver Hill to the newly constructed Confederate smelter in Petersburg, Virginia.

After the war, Osgood regained possession of the mine and continued to operate it for several years to supply his Bergin Point Zinc Company in New Jersey. When reserves were depleted, the mine closed.  For more than a century after production stopped, the Silver Hill Mine was the repeated target of both mining and exploration companies and stock promoters.   

Mineral specimens from Silver Hill are difficult to find.  Most are in museums and old collections.  Anyone with specimens from the Silver Hill Mine (AKA the Washington Mine) is encouraged to share them during the meeting.

Michael Kaas is a retired mining engineer, whose career included employment with the U. S. Bureau of Mines, Office of the Secretary of Interior, IBM Corporation, and several mining companies. He received a BS degree in mining engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and a MS degree in mineral engineering from the University of Minnesota.  He was an early innovator in the development of computer applications for the mining industry.  During his 20 years at the Bureau of Mines, he was responsible for programs in minerals information and analysis, resource evaluation, mineral land assessment, and environmental research.  He is the author of several technical and mining history papers. 


Effective April, 21, 2021

Paid MSSC members will be automatically on the invite list each month.

For Non Members:

You must request to attend the MSSC zoom meeting every month. See below for details.

Participants who want to do this must respond to our Programs chair, Rudy Lopez at  no later than Tuesday, May 10, 2022.  Please include “May  ZOOM Meeting” in the subject line of your response. This response date will allow time for us to send you the information needed to participate in the ZOOM meeting.

Upcoming Events (all events, except field trips are via ZOOM until further notice)

  • June 11, 2022: John Rakovan -Mosaic and Split Crystals
  • July 8, 2022: Howard Heitner – Minerals in 19th century America.
  • August 12, 2022: TBA

The MSSC is pleased to offer the new 2021 edition of Bob Pedersen’s X- Dana 

X-Dana Mineral Spreadsheet