Bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is made of, and the official state rock of Arkansas became one of the most famous parts of Saline County in its early years. The area was fueled by the two plants, Alcoa and Reynolds. Both of which mined bauxite in large quantities, to make aluminum. It was the bauxite found in the area of central Arkansas that basically funded the economy of the entire area in the twentieth century. Because aluminum is a very abundant metal it has not been commercially produced for very long. The efforts to do as such did not begin in Arkansas until 1891 when state geologist John Barnner identified a sample that had been found in central Arkansas in 1887.
The bauxite found here turned out to be the largest commercially used deposit of the mineral in the entire nation. This lead to Arkansas being the leading producer of bauxite throughout a good portion of the twentieth century. This was only spurred on by advancements in technology which made aluminum more available. This lead to a price drop for aluminum which thrust the metal into our everyday lives. Its uses suddenly became abundant, from dinner plates to construction materials. Aluminum was everywhere in our nation and the mining done in central Arkansas just made this easier.
Due to heavy deposits of bauxite found in the Caribbean the mining of the bauxite in Arkansas went at a slower pace then the norm before the second world war. However, as ships suffered great losses in supplies due to submarine attacks during World War II the nation turned to domestic production. This lead to an increase in mining for the mineral here in Arkansas due to an increase in war time demands for aluminum. By 1943 over six million long tons of bauxite had been mined from the state.
However, as the domestic demands of the nation have shifted the demand for Arkansas bauxite has fallen within the last decades. The mining of Arkansas bauxite stopped in 1990 because of this, but the impact of the ore found in Central Arkansas had on both the nation and the world will never change.
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