East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Employee No. 645

Some very interesting information regarding Standard Soapstone Corporation was provided to me by Jesse Bryant of Big Island, Virginia.
Research into his genealogy turned up the fact that his grandfather had worked for Standard Soapstone.

Standard Soapstone checktag number 645 was carried by Jesse’s grandfather, Paulus E. Bryant, Sr.

Paul and his wife Myrtle are listed in the 1920 National Census. Paul's occupation is recorded as "quary laborer."

Family history indicates that Paul worked for the Southern Railroad prior to going to work for Standard Soapstone. Therefore, he may have been hired to work on the dual gauge quarry railroad operated by Standard.

Tools owned by Paul Bryant, Sr. that are from the timeframe when he worked for Standard Soapstone

When Standard Soapstone shut down, Paul and Myrtle moved from Nelson County to her family homeplace at Big Island. Paul went to work for the paper mill there, and eventually became the powerhouse supervisor. A photo of his retirement party is posted at the Lynchburg History website.

Thanks to Jesse for providing these unique insights into the history of the soapstone industry in Virginia.