Category Archives: –WILKINSON COUNTY GA–

Kaolin Mining, Wilkinson County

With around 8 million metric tons mined and $1 billion in annual economic impact, kaolin is one of Georgia’s largest natural resources and industries. In fact, Georgia is the leading clay-producing state in the nation. Primary applications of kaolin include paper-coating (glossy magazine pages, for instance), paint pigments, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals, especially antacids such as Kaopectate and Mylanta.

The Kaolin Belt in Georgia runs roughly parallel to the Fall Line and is a vital economic force in at least 13 counties.

Historically, the industry had a bad reputation for its land rights and reclamation practices, but improvements in recent decades have (hopefully) lead to better stewardship. For an overview of the industry’s controversial earlier days, read Charles Seabrooke’s Red Clay, Pink Cadillacs and White Gold: The Kaolin Chalk Wars. The book was not well-received by the industry, though locals agree that much of it is solidly documented and reported. I’m not endorsing nor attacking the industry as it’s very important to the economy, but let’s hope it has improved. It’s not a liberal or conservative view to treat people right, to not steal their land, and to leave the land better than you found it.

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Union Church, 1856, Irwinton

After both the Methodist and Baptist churches in Irwinton burned in 1854, congregants came together to form a common house of worship. The result is the wonderful structure you see here, first known as the Irwinton Free Church. Though Sherman’s forces burned the courthouse, the church was somehow spared. Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians shared Union well into the 20th century but by 1960, the Presbyterians were gone and the Methodists and Baptists were settled into their own churches. During that decade, Joseph T. Maddox came forward to restore the building and prevent its deterioration. Perched on a hill on the edge of Irwinton, it stands today as an enduring symbol of cooperation and common faith.

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Wilkinson County Courthouse, 1924, Irwinton

This unusual courthouse has been expanded over the years; it’s very difficult to photograph. This is a side view.

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Masonic Lodge, 1946, Irwinton

The Masonic Lodge is also home to the Wilkinson County Post. Maebob’s Diner is located to the left of the building.

 

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Quality Food Mart, Irwinton

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Central of Georgia Railway, Depot, 1885, Gordon

This typical depot of the Central of Georgia was discontinued in 1985 and restored in 2003.  It is now home to a railroad museum.

 

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Penn Chevrolet Murals, Gordon

Penn Chevrolet was Gordon’s dealership and located adjacent to this building (if I understand correctly), which has murals honoring the business on both sides.

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