Chestatee River Diving Bell (c.1875)
In 1875, inventor and entrepreneur Philologus Hawkins (P.H.) Loud attempted a radically new idea. Loudís 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 diving bell, was lowered through an open chamber in the center of the boat.
Once it was securely seated on the river bed, excess water was forced out by pressurized air. Miners would descend
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 States because it remained hidden in the river for so many decades.
P.H. Loudís visionary concept in 1875 was the first river mining operation attempted by various companies in Lumpkin County.
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. Touch for map. Located within Hancock Park just off the square in downtown Dahlonega. The markers are located on the northeast corner. Marker is in this post office area: Dahlonega GA 30533, United States of America.
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); Hall's Block (about 400 feet away); Dahlonega Mustering Grounds (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dahlonega.
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.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 4, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 23, 2018, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. This page has been viewed 35 times since then and 5 times this year. 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.