Looking Back.....


From Earth's history to Central Florida Phosphate mining history, you can find interesting information on what you might want to know when you come visit us!  Learn about phosphate AND our Bone Valley fossil collection!

        Mining History                Geological History

Florida Phosphate Mining

Phosphate Through The Years



1881  Capt. J. Francis LeBaron discovers phosphate pebbles in the Peace River.

1889  Arcadia Phosphate Co. in DeSoto County mines the first commercial phosphate in Florida, beating Polk County producers by a year.

1889  John Jones and W.R. McKee create the Peace River Phosphate Co.  Many other companies soon follow.

1890  Polk County's phosphate boom begins in earnest, resulting in a proliferation of mines and company-owned towns.

1891  Phosphate prices fall.  Small companies begin failing.

1892  Land pebble production becomes concentrated in Polk County; river pebble production falters further south.

1893  River pebble production peaks; Great Panic strikes, sending nation into depression.

1895  Great Freeze strikes Florida, further depressing phosphate sales

1900  Mulberry forms; railroad-type steam shovels arrive

1902  Mechanized excavation begins using steam shovels and dredges

1908  Production of pebble phosphate from the Peace River ends.  In the almost 20 years river pebble was mined, total production equaled 1.2 million tons.

1919  Violent phosphate strike takes place over wages and union recognition.  Several residents and workers are killed during the six-month strike.

1920  First full-sized dragline employed by Swift and Co. for strip mining.

1926  Phosphate mines switch to draglines exclusively.

1927  Flotation - in which oil is used to separate phosphate from other materials - is developed, allowing companies to extract more phosphate.

1940s  Phosphoric acid is introduced.

1950s  Phosphate company-owned towns slowly phase out.

1960s  Phosphate experiences its biggest boom, prompting many oil companies to invest in the industry.

1975  Land reclamation becomes mandatory in Florida.

1978  Florida Institute for Phosphate Research established in Bartow.

1980s  Consolidation of phosphate companies begins.

1990s Mining operations start moving south.

2000s As mining in Polk County begins to gradually sunset, the industry expands its outlook southward to unmined reserves in Hardee, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties.

Check out some historic photos of the City of Mulberry from 1949...