Chestatee River Diving Bell (c.1875)
In 1875, inventor and entrepreneur Philologus Hawkins (P.H.) Loud attempted a radically new idea. Loud’s plan was to use a specially constructed boat capable of transporting a diving bell for mining the riverbed. Borrowing descriptions from previously issued patents, P.H. Loud incorporated the best ideas from several designs and adapted them for use in his river mining operation.
The iron plates for constructing the diving bell were cast at the Pottstown Iron Company in Pennsylvania. The bell was partially assembled and transported by rail to Gainesville, GA. It was moved by wagon to the Chestatee River for final assembly.
After several weeks of trials, the boat and diving bell were ready to begin retrieving buckets of gold bearing gravel from the river bottom.
Dropping anchor over an area in which gold was thought to be located, the
Once it was securely seated on the river bed, excess water was forced out by pressurized air. Miners would descend into the diving bell through the air lock. Two hatches and an air valve inside the air lock allowed the men to regulate the atmospheric pressure inside. Four round glass windows mounted on the roof allowed ambient light to illuminate the inside of the diving bell. The air lock tube also had a glass window.
Once inside the diving bell, miners would shovel the auriferous gravel into a large vacuum tube that pumped it to the boat deck. Then it was washed in a sluice box that separated the gold from the gravel.
Rocks which were too big for the tube were probably placed into buckets or the ballast storage bins to be transported to the deck.
When finished, the miners would exit through the air lock, and the diving bell was hoisted to the surface.
Although the procedure seemed promising, all evidence indicates that the machinery was never used to its full potential. Mechanical breakdowns, legal problems and bad weather all contributed to the eventual demise of the operation.
On October 18, 1876, the boat with the diving bell attached sank under mysterious circumstances.
This submersible is the only air lock-type diving bell known to exist in the United
P.H. Loud’s visionary concept in 1875 was the first river mining operation attempted by various companies in Lumpkin County.
River mining continued for over forty-five years until mining boats became too expensive and unreliable to operate.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 34° 32.03′ N, 83° 59.085′ W. Marker is in Dahlonega, Georgia, in Lumpkin County. Marker is at the intersection of Warwick Street and North Meaders Street, on the left when traveling north on Warwick Street. Located within Hancock Park just off the square in downtown Dahlonega. The markers are located on the northeast corner. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dahlonega GA 30533, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Discovery to Restoration (here, next to this marker); Restoration & Preservation by Cotrell, Inc. (a few steps from this marker); Maibaum History Tree (within shouting distance of this marker); Dahlonega Stories (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Dahlonega Stories (about 300 feet away); The Public Square (about 400 feet away);
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . . The 1875 Chestatee River Diving Bell. Link to the Lumpkin County Historical Society with a video about the diving bell. (Submitted on September 23, 2018, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 23, 2018, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. This page has been viewed 97 times since then and 3 times this year. Last updated on June 5, 2019, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 23, 2018, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. 7. submitted on October 1, 2018, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.