Techniques > Systems
> Finishes > Historic
Literature and Graphics >
Paint in Vermont, 1861
D. Report on the Geology of Vermont, 1861, "Paints,"
pp.806-810; "Brandon Ore Beds," pp. 823-827.
|Calcining Brandon yellow ochre (on palette knife) to red
iron oxide (in pan).
Pigments of various kinds are found in different parts of the
State, and, in many cases, in such quantity as to be profitably
worked. They, are mostly confined to the tertiary deposits,
and consist mainly of alumina and variable proportions of the
oxyds of iron and manganese. Several establishments for the
manufacture of yellow and red paints were in successful operation,
near the abandoned iron mines in East Bennington, at the time
of our visit. It is estimated that six hundred tons of paints
were prepared and sent to market from this State during the
The material for these paints from Bennington is obtained from
“knobs” or swells of land near the base of the Green Mountains,
and in the valley of Roaring Branch, in Woodford. The beds of
ochre are opened, and the material suitable for paint is taken
from thence and conveyed in wheelbarrows to sluices somewhat
resembling those used for washing gold from auriferous gravel.
But there is this difference in the two operations: in the latter
the worthless material washes off down the sluice and the precious
metal lodges upon the bottom; but in this ease the worthless
material, in the form of pebbles, iron ore, sand, &c., settles
at the bottom, and the substance valuable for paint is taken
up by the water and carried along down the sluice. Spouts conduct
this water, holding the paint in suspension, for considerable
distance into large vats, where it is suffered to remain and
the paint to settle at the bottom. The water is then decanted,
and the sediment at the bottom of the vats allowed to dry till
it assumes the consistency of thick mud or clay, when it is
cut into pieces about the size of bricks, and laid upon shelves
to dry in buildings prepared for the purpose. When perfectly
dry it is run through a mill and packed in barrels for market.
This is yellow paint, and very similar to the paints called
French, or spruce-yellow, so much used for painting floors in
Red paint is also manufactured in large quantities
at these establishments. This is done by taking the dried lumps
of yellow paint and putting them into large ovens and calcining
them. By this process more oxygen is acquired by the ochre through
the agency of heat; and the result is that red paint is produced
closely resembling the variety called Venetian-red.
Paints are extensively manufactured in Brandon by the “Brandon
Iron and Car Wheel Company;” and in this town there is found
a greater variety of material suitable for pigments than in
any other in the State, and probably greater than at any other
place in New England.
By the following list and description, taken from a Circular
of the Company, it will be seen that several colored paints
are produced; and we will here remark that the testimony of
those who have used them fully sustains the assertions made
respecting their value and durability:
Much of the material now used for the manufacture
of the red and yellow paints, is obtained by washing the iron
ore preparatory to its being smelted. It is necessary to wash
the hematite that is found imbedded in a matrix of ochre, before
it is smelted; but we think the company at Brandon is the first
and only one in the State that saves the material washed off,
for paint. From the washing machine the liquor is conducted
to vats, and subjected to processes similar to those already
described at the Bennington paint works.
In addition to the oxyds of iron, there are other
pigments found in Brandon, among which is umber, a rare
mineral paint, composed principally of' the oxyds of iron and
manganese, and very valuable as a drier. Most of the
umber in market has heretofore berg obtained at the Island of
Cyprus. The annual sales of Brandon paints amount to about twelve
hundred barrels. A short time before our visit to the words,
they filled an order for two hundred and forty barrels, which
was sent to England — forty of which was umber.
Numerous other “ paint beds ” are found in the State,
but the foregoing embraces a notice of the places where paint
is prepared for market. There is probably not a bed of hematite
in Vermont that would not furnish material for red and yellow
paints, and probably there may be other beds of umber in the
vicinity of those iron beds where manganese enters largely into
the composition of the ore — or where, like the locality
at Brandon, the manganese is found in isolated beds, independent
of the iron ore. Ochre beds often exist where workable ore is
“Brandon Yellow. This paint has
more body than any other yellow, and makes a hard and durable
paint for floors, outside work, &c.
“ Brandon Brown – has the best body
of any mineral paint known, takes less oil than other paints,
and is, therefore, the cheapest paint in use.
“Brandon Red. This paint, when mixed
with oil, forms one of the most adhesive coverings that has
yet been discovered for painting on wood, iron, or tin, and
is a better protection to them than red lead, as it adheres
“Brandon Roofing Paint. This paint
can be mixed with raw oil, without grinding, and forms a very
hard and excellent fireproof covering, particularly adapted
for roofs of houses and cars, decks of steamboats, &c.
“Brandon Umber (raw and burnt.) This pigment,
used alone as a drier in boiling oil, in the usual tray, one-fourth
pound to the gallon, is one of the best drying substances
known; and, after being used in boiling oil, can also be used
as a paint, without loss, as the heating does not harden it.
It is slightly darker in shade than Turkey umber, but is much
purer than the common article of commerce; and in light tints,
in white lead or zinc, it makes a much handsomer color than
the best Turkey umber. It is ground fine, and put up in packages
of various sizes, from twenty-five to three hundred pounds.
“ The Brandon paints having been thoroughly tested and approved,
the company have entered largely into their manufacture, and
present them to the public with great Confidence as the best
paints in the market.
“These paints are composed of alumina,
protoxyd and peroxyd of iron, and deutoxyd of manganese, in
variable proportions, constituting the varieties offered for
sale. They form with oil not a simple mixture, but a chemical
union not easily decomposed, and hence their durability then
exposed to the action of the atmosphere, or of water. They
differ from the ochres by being in part constituted of deutoxyd
of manganese, which forms with oil one of the strongest and
most adhesive compounds of oil and the metallic oxyds.
“ All the constituent parts of these paints
unite and form a chemical union and definite compound with
oil, and differ widely, in this respect, from paints of which
silica is a basis, which ingredient has no amenity for, and
forms no combination with, oil.
“ The Brandon paints possess, in an eminent degree,
all the qualities requisite for the protection of wood and
iron, and experience proves their superiority on iron, tin,
brick wood, cloths, &c., and they are excellent substitutes
for red lead or brown zinc, to which they are far superior,
either above or under water. They are ground fine, have good
body, cover well, and are more durable and much cheaper than
white lead or any paint having white lead or zinc for a basis.
“The colors are permanent and unfading,
and are particularly adapted for outside work, railroad and
other bridges, ships, decks of steamers, cars, carriages,
fences, roofs, &c. Muslin, when painted with two coats
of Brandon paint, makes a light and water-proof covering,
much superior to the heavy tarpaulin so much used.
“The paint has been extensively users in
and about gas holders, to the entire satisfaction of gas companies;
and machinists, carriage, omnibus, and car-builders, give
it a preference on account of its heavy body, which, being
well adapted for rubbing down, gives a beautiful and enduring
enameled surface. It adheres firmly to iron, arid is the best
paint in use for the protection of that metal.
“The red and yellow, mixed together,
make the best stain known, and are highly prized for that
purpose by cabinet and sash makers. The colors are well adapted
for station houses, cottages, cars, bridges, and. are particularly
deserving the attention of railroad companies, as also of
builders, and both house and ship painters, painted carpet
manufacturers, and dealers in paints, &c.
“The dry paints require only to be mixed
with oil, without grinding, for use. The roofing paint is
used with raw oil, and is the best article known for painting
tin, roofs of cars, sheds, houses, &c., and is also a
great protection against fire.
“They contain none of the poisonous
qualities of white lead, and their use is not attended with
any of the fatal consequences attendant upon the use of that
article. A given quantity will cover a very much larger surface
than either lead or zinc.
"Owing to the superior facilities
possessed by the company, in the manufacture of these paints,
they are enabled to furnish them at as low rates as
other and inferior paints are sold.
"These paints have been extensively used
on the lighthouse buildings on the New England coast, by order
of the U. S. Government, and. by the principal railroad and
machine shops, &c. &c., and have in all cases given
“Persons desirous of making trial of these
paints, will be furnished with samples for that purpose, upon
application at the Company’s offices.”
On a hill, a few rods east of North Dorset village, there is
a substance which has been called “a remarkable vein of iron
ore, that has become mostly disintegrated and converted into
ochre.” this vein has been penetrated horizontally one hundred
and fifty feet, and perpendicularly one hundred feet, without
any perceptible difference in its character for that distance.
This vein, which has a uniform thickness of about three feet,
and stands perpendicular between walls of a calcareous quartz
rock, has the appearance of a porphyritic dike; hence we were
disposed to call it a dike of “plastic porphyry,” or lithomarge.
It has various shades of red, yellow, gray, and white, that
are irregularly blended together — in some places producing
a reddish-chocolate color, and in others distinct crystalline
grains of white occur in a reddish or yellowish ground, having
the exact appearance of porphyry. It has a fine texture, soft
and rather unctuous to the touch, and can be cut and polished
with a knife, without injuring its edge. In this dike there
are found concretionary masses that cannot be easily cut, but
are very solid, and closely resemble cinnabar in texture and
The substance forming this dike is dug out and sold. In its
crude state by the proprietor, Daniel Curtis, Esq., to parties
in New York who grind and sell it for paint. We cannot, from
personal observation, attest to its durability, but were told
that it proved durable upon long exposure. We think it might
be valuable to manufacturers of vulcanized India rubber, or
in the manufacture of earthen and stoneware, if used in the
place of kaolin
In several places in the State, we have found a
reddish substance, which we were inclined to call red kaolin,
but which we suspect may have been identical with the substance
forming the Curtis “paint dike.”
In Dorset, not far from the residence of Hon. L. B. Armstrong,
we found a reddish substance, that in places entered into the
composition of the limestone, and in others was quite pure, having
no grit, and being quite friable. We suspect this may have had
an origin and character like that found at North Dorset.
In the marble quarry of Messrs. Holley, Fields,
Kent, on Mount Eolus, we found in the cavities existing there
a substance very similar to that under consideration, which
we now think was the remnant of a small dike composed of this
soft substance, but which is now mostly washed away. Contiguous
to this red substance in the quarry, and along the joints in
which it is found, the marble is considerably stained with a
reddish coloring matter — in some eases to the thickness
of five or six inches. Had this substance been deposited during
the tertiary period, why would it have communicated the red
stain to the hard marble? Is it not more plausible to suppose
that a dike filled the fissure in the semi-plastic marble, and
communicated the stain at that time? And since that time, owing
to the unresisting nature of this soft dike, has it not been
weathered out, with only fragments left to attest its former
In Waitsfeld, about one mile north-east of the village,
on land of Joseph Hesselton, we were shown an “ochre bed” by
Daniel Richardson, Esq., which we think may have been an outcrop
or remnant of a mass of lithomarge, similar to that of North
|Palmer House, East Dorset, Vermont (2004)
Since the foregoing was written, we learn from Mr. Curtis,
of North Dorset, that he has found another paint dike a few
rods east of the one before described. It is of about the same
size and character as the first one which he opened, and the
two run through the rock nearly parallel to each other. They
are both nearly perpendicular, and run N. 25º E. The limestone
that incases these dikes has in it numerous joints that seem
parallel to the dikes, which circumstance renders plausible
the supposition that they are intrusive masses, and not sedimentary
This metal in its pure state is fine-grained, hard
and brittle, and of a grayish-white color like cast iron. It has
great amenity for oxygen, and is never found in beds except when
combined with it. Of the ores of manganese there are many varieties,
of which the following are the most common:
The Deutoxyd or Pyrolusite; the Sesqui-oxyd,
in combination with a base, or Psilomelane; the Sesqui-oxyd
or Braunite; the hydroxyd or Manganite;
the Sulphuret or Manpanblend; the Carbonate or
Diallogite; and the Earthy Oxyd or Wad.
Pyrolusite, one of the most valuable varieties
of manganese ore, is of a bluish-gray color with a metallic
luster, and a granular or subcrystalline structure, with occasional
incrustations of minute steel-gray crystals lining cavities
or traversing open fissures. It is usually associated with
beds of brown hematite, or with other ores of manganese.
Psilomelane, which is found associated
with the above, occurs in smooth, black, botryoidal or mammillary
masses, which, upon a fresh fracture, present a compact structure
resembling that of hard iron or steel. A specimen from Brandon,
analyzed by Prof. Olmsted, gave the following results. . .
Ore Beds [pp.823-827]
About one-fourth of a mile from the Mitchell bed, in
a northerly direction, there is an impure hematite, into which
silex enters in large proportions. It occurs in mammillary masses,
imbedded in arenaceous quartz. Too much silex enters into its
composition to make it valuable for smelting, unless it be used
as a flux. Prof. Olmsted analyzed specimens of this, and also
some of the hematite from the solid mass alluded to by Prof. Adams,
with the following results:
Ore. Silicious Ore.
Peroxide of Iron 84.90
Silica .75 55.81
Metalic Iron 58.66 26.84
In Brandon there is an excellent development of hematite, and
associated with it, in beds contiguous, are vast quantities
of kaolin, ochre, manganese, and brown coal. These have been
more extensively and successfully worked than any other similar
beds in the State. “ The Brandon Iron and Car Wheel Company”
own and work the principal beds in the town. To John Howe, Esq.,
the efficient and gentlemanly agent for the company in Brandon,
we are indebted for the following description of the ore beds,
their history, &c.
“ Iron ore was first discovered in Brandon in 1810, and soon
after a forge was built, and. bar-iron of a superior quality
was manufactured for several years. In 1820 a furnace was built
by John Conant, Esq., for reducing the ore, an undertaking which
at that time was deemed one of great hazard; but he persevered
with characteristic energy and judgment, and with complete success;
and it is to this furnace, long well known as “ Conant’s Furnace,”
that Brandon is indebted for an impetus then given to its business,
and for its continuous growth and prosperity.
“In 1850 the furnace property, iron, and manganese
mines, deposits of kaolin, &c., were purchased from the
old proprietors, Messrs. John Conant & Sons, by the
Brandon Iron and Car Wheel Company, who are now the only manufacturers
in the United States of cold blast charcoal iron from brown
hematite ores, on account of the growing scarcity of charcoal
in the neighborhood of all ores of this class — a scarcity
from which this company is exempt, by early and judicious purchases
of over twenty-one hundred acres of heavily timbered woodlands,
the timber upon which, with its natural increase, will supply
charcoal for the furnace as long as wanted.
“ The charter under which the company is organized
was obtained from the Legislature of Vermont in 1851. Acts in
addition thereto were obtained in 1852 and 1853, by which the
company are empowered to hold real estate to the amount in value
of two hundred thousand dollars, and the stockholders are exempted
from al] individual liability. The amount of capital paid in
is one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, represented
by seventeen hundred and fifty shares of the par value of one
hundred Dollars each. Of this amount, $140,840 has been paid
for real estate, appropriate but not expensive buildings, well
contrived machinery, fixtures, &c.
“ In real estate the company own two thousand five
hundred and ten acres woodlands, situated in the towns of Brandon,
Chittenden, Hancock, Ripton, and Goshen, and prig hundred and
two and one-half acres of mineral land, two and a half miles
from the village, including the mining rights in a lot
of sixteen acres, one rood, twenty-four rods, forty-seven feet,
situated in Brandon, and forming one lot called the Caught lot.
This land embraces an inexhaustible supply of the valuable variety
of iron ore known by the name of brown hematite; also, distinct
there from, an extensive deposit of black oxyd of manganese.
There is, also, an inexhaustible deposit of pure white kaolin,
or porcelain clay, and fire clay and fire sand, and many thousand
tons of pigments, including umber and ochre, that require only
washing and drying to prepare them for paints.
“In connection with the clay and iron ores, there is an extensive
bed of lignite, or brown coal, which has been followed from
near the surface to a depth of over eighty feet. Several years
past it has furnished the fuel at the mines for raising the
ore and driving all the machinery. In connection, also, with
the mines, and for the purpose of economically working them,
the company have constructed an engine and boiler house —
the latter of brick — and buildings adjoining, covering
the machinery and two shafts.
“ The company own furnace property in the center of the village
of Brandon, about ninety rods from the station of the Rutland
and Burlington Railroad, and an establishment for the manufacture
of fire brick near the railroad station.”
They also own buildings and fixtures for elutriating
and preparing for market paints and paper clay (elutriated kaolin),
which they are manufacturing in large quantities, and for which
there is found a ready sale.
From C. Brownson, Esq., the intelligent superintendent
of the mining operations, we obtained many facts of interest
pertaining to the mine, and also a plan of the beds, of which
The rock (1) upon which the beds repose, is the
same ferruginous limestone everywhere found in the State beneath
hematite. It has a strike N. 30º E., and dips 40º S.E. Immediately
upon the limestone — which in this mine is occasionally
very silicious — there is found a bed of ochre from six
to twenty feet thick.
In some places, portions of the ochre (2) are nearly
black, having in its composition considerable manganese; in
other places it is yellow (3), being nearly a pure oxyd of iron.
Next above the ochre, and nearly conformable with
the limestone beneath, is found the hematite or iron ore (4),
which has a variable thickness, and, as will be seen by referring
to the cut, it also has an irregular outline.
In some places the bed of hematite has been penetrated
to the depth of one hundred. and four feet. The main bed is
known to be six hundred feet in length, and over one hundred
feet in width in some places. Ore of a superior quality is found
in this bed, and the iron made from it is remarkably tough,
and. well suited for the manufacture of ear wheels, cannon,
machinery and weighing scales, for which it has lately been
Next above the hematite is found the bed of kaolin
or white clay (5), which is quite extensive, and has an average
dip of about 40º S.E. In this bed of kaolin a which comes to
the surface in several places, is a mass of lignite or brown
coal (L) about twenty-five feet square, standing
in a perpendicular column, and extending down obliquely through
A bed of quartz sand (8) of considerable size is found resting
upon the kaolin, and several small deposits are fount' in beds
adjacent. It is also sometimes found mixed with kaolin. It is
valuable for moulding sand, and has been considerably used in
the manufacture of fire-brick, for which it is admirably suited.
In the be6s of sand are found small masses of arenaceous quartz,
that still retain their rocky form, but so friable as to be
readily separated with the fingers.
When sand is found mixed with kaolin, the latter is usually
stained more or less with ochre, and in some instances it is
found of a dark-red color.
A bed of reddish kaolin (6) is found resting upon
the southern side of the main bed. of hematite, and. overlying
a bed. of “dead ore” (7). This dead ore — which is found
more or less in all hematite beds — is worthless for smelting,
and intelligent miners assert that it always occurs “where the
water is cut off from the bed.” It is claimed by many miners,
that all hematite beds are injured by taking the water from
them, and that when mines are temporarily abandoned, water should
be suffered to accumulate in them for the preservation of the
In a southerly direction from the bed just described,
and not more than sixty rods distant, is located the Forestdale
or Blake ore bed. In this there is the same sequence of ochre,
ore, kaolin, &c., that exists in the former bed, and the
dip and appearance of the bed-rock beneath both are similar.
In the midst of the kaolin is a mass of brown coal, closely
resembling that found in the northern bed, but not so extensive
a deposit. To de-scribe these beds, and the order of their recurrence,
would in substance be a repetition of what has already been
said respecting the northern bed.
The Blake bed is not worked at present, neither for ore nor
for any of the associated minerals, but doubtless contains large
deposits of both.
Aside from these two principal beds of ore, there are numerous
smaller beds of hematite, ochre, manganese, &c., found in
this vicinity, some of which are quite valuable.
Small deposits of iron ore exist in Leicester, Salisbury, Middlebury
and Bristol, but none that are extensive. Manganese and yellow
ochre are very abundantly disseminated with the iron ore found
at these places, and would doubtless prove valuable in the manufacture
In the south part of Monkton, near Bristol line, is a bed
of iron ore owned by “The Boston Iron Company,” but not worked
at present. Professor Thompson gave the following description
of the ore: “Ochery varieties occur, but it is mostly the hematitic
brown oxyd. The color of the surface of the ore is a velvet-black,
and that of the interior a brownish-black. Its structure is
fibrous and commonly radiated. This ore makes excellent iron,
and is manufactured at Bristol and. other places. Connected
with this ore is found the black oxyd of manganese.” From the
description given of the ore, we should infer that iron made
from the “velvet”-colored variety weald be too hard and brittle
to be successfully used for stove plates and soft castings.
We strongly suspect manganese entered largely into the composition
of the ore, and produced the beautiful black color. The bed
is not favorably situated for drainage, but is supposed to contain
considerable quantity of ore.
Like the deposits of carbonate of lime which form
the heels of marble in Vermont, the ferruginous limestone beds
also thin out as they approach the north part of the State;
and, as might be expected — if our conjectures are well
founded as to their origin — the beds of hematite are
less numerous and extensive in the north, than in the middle
and southern portions.
Hematite beds probably exist in Hinesburgh, Huntington
and Williston, but we know of no good developments of them in
A deposit of ore of good quality, but not extensive,
is found in Colchester, about one mile north of the depot, on
land of Mr. J. Barnes. It occurs in a recess between
two considerable spurs of silicious limestone. It is probable
that the bed was originally much more extensive than at present,
but was removed by drift agency, as there are found numerous
fragments of the ore in drift south of the bed.
In Milton, Georgia, Swanton, St. Albans, Franklin and Highgate,
small deposits of ore are found, but the beds are all small,
and probably not valuable for working.
In the southern part of Plymouth, east of the Green Mountains,
is a deposit of hematite of considerable extent. It was worked
for several years by Isaac Tyson, Esq., but the beds are now
abandoned, and the furnace buildings are fast going to decay.
As before suggested, we regard this as an outlier and counterpart
of the extensive tertiary deposit found upon the west side of
the mountains. Quartz sand, 1-aolin and manganese are found
associated with the iron, and occur in beds nearly conformable
with the beds of rock beneath. J. W. Stickney, Esq., of Plymouth,
informs us that in driving an acquit from the east, the workmen,
after passing through the drift, encountered a bed of kaolin
and quartz sand, having a thickness of about five rods. Through
this bed the adit was driven, and after passing through an ochre
bed the hematite was reached. Repeats the ore there divas a
bed of ochre resting upon, and conformable with the bed-rock
which dips about 40º E. So much manganese enters into the composition
of the ore that it is not always valuable for the manufacture
of soft iron, and it was necessary to assort, thy ore, and separate
the manganese from the hematite, before the latter could be
advantageously smelted. There were portions of the bed in which
a good hematite was found, as chill be seen from the following
analysis of a specimen of the brown hematite, by T. S.
of the Geological Survey of Canada:
Peroxyd of iron,
Other beds of hematite may exist, and indeed
we know that some small ones do exist, that are not particularly
described; but we have given those that are the most valuable
To describe minutely the numerous beds
of bog ore found in the State, would be a difficult task, for
in every count scores of them are found. But with the full conviction
that not one of these numerous beds is valuable for smelting,
or would produce iron enough to defray the expense, even if the
furnace were built and ready to receive the ore, we deem it useless
to minutely describe even one of them.
Unlike the beds of hematite, bog ore beds are confined
to no particular rock formation, and are found upon the mountains
and. in the valleys. In every marshy spot, where rocks containing
pyrites or carbonate of iron are contiguous, there may be found
more or less of the earthy oxyd of iron. It even enters largely
into the composition of the soil in some localities, and gives
to it the yellow color. But while it is so
generally distributed through the State, it is a little remarkable
that no beds have ever been found that were of a magnitude that
would warrant an outlay of much capital to work them.