Photograph: Flooded Kaolin clay open pit mine, Mountain Glen, Union County, Illinois

Kaolin clay, once especially prized for its glaze on pottery, was mined near Mountain Glen in Union County, Illinois. A small railroad depot, Kaolin Station, served the mine and vicinity. During World War I, several hundred men worked the pit. Later, when the demand for Kaolin clay dried up and the work stopped, the pit gradually filled with water. Today, it’s a small county park.

Alice Logan, daughter of James W. Logan and Eveline Wilson Logan, married (second) John William Evans. John Evans was one of the hundreds drawn to the mine for work. The 1910 Union County, Illinois, census lists him as “Miner, Kaolin Mine.”

Mining is, of course, a “boom and bust” economy. When the Kaolin mine closed, Mountain Glen, Alto Pass, and other communities drastically shrank in population. Most of the miners and their families moved on to other, fresh diggings. Today, Alto Pass remains an especially scenic site.

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