At the height of his fame and success, America's greatest inventor
embarked on a disastrous project that cost him ten years and all of his
In 1889, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Company purchased
a group of magnetite iron ore mines know as "The Ogden Group."
Thomas Alva Edison,
the famous American inventor, was the principal partner in this enterprise.
He envisioned great potential in converting the low-grade magnetite iron
ore deposits into profitable commercial use. The location of this enterprise
was Sparta, New Jersey. Only stone foundation remnants at various places
off Edison Road (from Ogdensburg to Sparta) exist today.
about $3.5 million in the project, Edison stripped the topsoil and vegetation
and erected a large-scale system of tracks and equipment for mining the
whole mineralized belt. Steam shovels and cableways were employed to load
and transport the ore from the mine to the mill. The mill separated the
ore from the rock by use of huge magnetic
Here, briquettes were formed so that the finished
crushed magnetite could be easily smelted in a blast furnace. Edison had
designed the entire system. It is a little known fact that one aspect
of his inventive genius was mining and milling-technology application.
The entire Edison project was ultimately unsuccessful, primarily as a
result of the discovery of the rich Mesabi range iron ore deposits in
Minnesota. While a financial disaster for Edison personally, the many
inventions, improvements and experiences gained at the Ogden Plant of
the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Company have benefited the
industrial world to a great extent, especially in the area of cement manufacturing.
Drawings of milling machinery
used by the New Jersey Zinc Company still exist, bearing Edison's
signature as designer or evaluator.