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Today in Levy County History: The Albion Phosphate District

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By TONI COLLINS
Levy historian

At the March 1896 meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, a report was given on the Albion phosphate district located in the northeast corner of Levy County. The area embraced a territory about four miles wide and six miles long. The Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad, which ran from Fernandina, a shipping port on the Atlantic, to the Cedar Keys, on the Gulf of Mexico, passed through the center of the district.
By 1895, seven major phosphate mining companies were in full operation; however at one time there were 52 phosphate companies in the Albion area. The Camp Phosphate Company was established first, followed by the Albion Phosphate Mining Company, Portland Chemical and Phosphate Company, Development Phosphate Company, Peninsular Company, Osceola Phosphate Company, and the Bailey Mines.
Several companies used pick and shovel to mine the phosphate and several companies used a steam-dredge to solve the problem of mining the phosphate beneath the water. Two-thirds of the mineral lies below the level of the water. The high grade and excellence of the phosphate of this district had given it a high standing in the market.
The most productive company was the Camp Phosphate Company which was owned by the Camp Brothers. The company extracted as much as 20,000 tons of phosphate out of a space about equal to one acre. Their excavation operation was carried to a depth of 50 feet below the surface without going to the bottom of the phosphate.
The settlement which grew up at Albion boasted a railroad station, a post office, and stores run by the Smith Brothers, the Studstills, and the Gomms. The Gomms also ran a hotel. Hal Mitchell ran a restaurant and one of the Camp Brothers, Clarence constructed a golf course in front of his home.