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6

T

he history of Mulberry begins with

phosphate. Phosphorus was long recognized

as a vital ingredient in fertilizers, and early sources

of phosphorus included bone black and bird guano.

However, phosphate rock, also called phosphorite,

was found to be a far richer source of phosphorus.

Phosphate rock was first found in South Carolina,

but, in 1880, Dr. C. A. Simmons discovered

phosphate in Alachua County, Florida. The

following year, J. Francis LeBaron, a civilian

engineer with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers,

found river pebble phosphate while surveying the

Peace River in south central Florida.

Mulberry YESTERDAY

A Brief History of Mulberry, Florida

By Richard A. Fifer

Mulberry Historical Society

Florida phosphate mining began on the Peace

River in 1888. At the same time, prospectors

began searching westward for other sources

of phosphate. In the region now called Bone

Valley (because of the many fossils found in

the area), prospectors discovered thick beds

of phosphate rocks, covered only by twenty

to fifty feet of sand and clay. Removing this

“overburden,” and mining the phosphate layer

proved far less expensive than mining river

pebble phosphate or the “hard rock” phosphate

in north Florida.