Self-trained paleeontologist, Francis S. Holmes had been collecting fossils in the rivers around Charleston. During the 1850s and 1860's two enterprising physicians Dr. St. Julien Ravenel and Dr. N.A. Pratt extracted phosphates from Holmes's collection. They found northern investors and started to mine the phosphate pebbles, abundant in the region.
plantation mine owners attempted to reinstate the old "slave-like" labor practices. But the black residents enjoyed owning their time. Phosphate mining was very labor-intensives. Hundreds of miners with picks, shovels and wheel barrows were needed by each mining company to remove the tons of overburden to get to the phosphate deposits. African-Americans could negotiate good working conditions and good wages.
Early on, the state government regulated the phosphate mining around Charleston. They sold the river mining rights to a single individual, destroying competition. Capitalists invested heavily in the new mines lost their assets after the Financial Panic of 1893. Finally a major earthquake destroyed the infastructure and the phosphate mining boom ended by 1900. It however laid the groundwork and rocesses for the epoch in Florida.Panic