Pioneer Blue Swirl

Pioneer Blue Swirl

           Untamed wilderness spread across a vast landscape. An explorers dream to find untapped discoveries of riches. With limited gear and a strong mans will, the men in the early 1800's had to be rough. The history of the Upper Peninsula began with such vigilantes who were trying to find a better life outside the law of their home countries across the big mud puddle. Families who were seeking a better life on the whims of the dreamers. The prospectors of the Upper Peninsula did find a mineral that would supply a civil war, build cities, towns, railroads, and create jobs for millions. That mineral was Hematite, which refines into Iron Ore.

         Iron Ore has been a way of life here in the Upper Peninsula since 1845 starting with the Jackson Mine. The Pioneer Furnace was opened in 1857 along with a post office in 1858. The new industry brought all walks of life from Finland, Italy, Sweden, England, and Irish. With all these cultures coming together in one area, language barriers and traditions kept them segmented into there own little areas amongst the towns of Negaunee and Ishpeming. To this day, the traditions of the past hold strong in these two towns.

The iron ore process of extracting iron from host rock back in the early 1800's was crude and required immense heat. To cut costs, they used the most abundant and cheap form of energy of burning wood called pyrolysis. The heat had to reach 1538 C.  To help solidify and separate the ore from the host basalt. They added charcoal to create carbon dioxide to react with the oxygen to generate Iron. The left over waste was called Slag. 

Slag is not the prettiest name for something so beautiful. Pioneer Swirl is the result of the ancient ore practices used as far back as the Egyptians and probably farther back. 

Pioneer Swirl Slag is some of the most beautiful antique glass you can find. The area it comes from is no bigger then a small backyard. What's left is sifted through piles of dirt. We here at WildSuperiorGems were lucky enough to obtain a mass collection of the material. We dug and sorted out only the best specimens to cut and polish exquisite cabochons to be put into jewelry.

I am proud to be apart of this rich culture. The mining industry has employed half my family for generations. To dig in the dirt in in our blood.