Tag Archives: Georgia Industries

Ludowici Club House, Circa 1904

The Ludowici Roof Tile Company opened a factory in Johnston Station, Georgia in 1904. This large structure was its de facto community center and also provided lodging for traveling executives, salesmen and contractors.

The tiny settlement of Johnston Station was renamed in honor of William Ludowici, who donated most of the money required to build a schoolhouse in the overnight boomtown . The economic impact of the factory was massive and during its ten years in operation, it provided over 2 million square feet of roofing materials for government buildings in the Panama Canal Zone. After Ludowici Roof Tile left town in 1914, the Club House was generally used as residential housing.

John A. Brown, who made this photograph circa 1965 and graciously shared it with me, recalls that his Brown grandparents lived here during World War I, when it was owned by a Lang (Laing?) family. He also remembers a spring-fed pool on the property. His grandfather and a partner were in a cross-tie business known as Kendricks & Brown who had a government contract during World War I. I believe it was used as a boarding house but it may have also been rented to single families. I’m not sure when it was torn down, either, but it was likely not too long after this photograph was made.

Kaolin Mining, Wilkinson County

With around 8 million metric tons mined and $1 billion in annual economic impact, kaolin is one of Georgia’s largest natural resources and industries. In fact, Georgia is the leading clay-producing state in the nation. Primary applications of kaolin include paper-coating (glossy magazine pages, for instance), paint pigments, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals, especially antacids such as Kaopectate and Mylanta.

The Kaolin Belt in Georgia runs roughly parallel to the Fall Line and is a vital economic force in at least 13 counties.

Historically, the industry had a bad reputation for its land rights and reclamation practices, but improvements in recent decades have (hopefully) lead to better stewardship. For an overview of the industry’s controversial earlier days, read Charles Seabrooke’s Red Clay, Pink Cadillacs and White Gold: The Kaolin Chalk Wars. The book was not well-received by the industry, though locals agree that much of it is solidly documented and reported. I’m not endorsing nor attacking the industry as it’s very important to the economy, but let’s hope it has improved. It’s not a liberal or conservative view to treat people right, to not steal their land, and to leave the land better than you found it.