RUMFORD – Noted mineralogist Vandall T. King was in Rumford this week touting his newest book, “Maine Feldspar, Families and Feuds: A History of Mining and the Feldspar Industry, Oxford County, Maine.”

As King described his edited work on Tuesday morning in Rumford, the 300-page tome tells the story of one of Oxford County’s most famous mineral localities – the Bumpus Quarry in Albany Township.

He focuses on the people who lived near it, the natural history of the rocks of interest and why they were important, the efforts of various people to harvest minerals for manufacturing, and how the actions of people actively involved in mining related to other residents in the county.

In 1950, the Bumpus Quarry held the world’s largest record for a beryl crystal at 4 feet wide by 18 feet long.

Beryl is the mineral ore of beryllium, which King says in the book, was used first as a component in specialty non-sparking and lightweight alloys.

Later, it was used in lightweight alloys and the atomic bomb, about which, King devotes an appendix section to concerning the search for beryl by The Manhattan Project and during the Cold War.

The Bumpus Quarry was also an early leader in the local feldspar mining industry and was active for most of the time that feldspar mining was important in Oxford County, he said. That period was from 1902 through 1970.

Feldspar was used to make ceramics or nonabrasive cleaners, King said.

King also visited western Maine area mines such as the Dunton Quarry in Newry, and one of Maine’s newest pegmatite quarries, the two-year-old Lookout Mine on South Twin Mountain in Rumford.

A native of Skowhegan, King is the author, co-author or editor of 18 books concerning minerals, including the “Mineralogy of Maine” in two volumes.

Additionally, King has written more than 225 articles on minerals and history.

Currently, a consulting mineralogist, King is also a management editor of the international mineralogy database, Mindat.

He has also discovered eight minerals that are new to the world, four of which were found in Maine: Kosnerite, which was found at the Mount Mica Quarry in Paris and the Black Mountain Quarry in Rumford; McCrillisite, which is named after a Rumford man, also in Mount Mica; Perhamite from the Bell Pitt and Dunton Quarry in Newry; and Mangangordonite, also from Newry.

So, it was no surprise when King, a history buff since the age of 9, aspired to write an in-depth history, both about mining in Oxford County and the people connected to it.

“The idea that I had was to write a more comprehensive history than was present in my ‘Mineralogy of Western Maine,'” King said.

“I knew that when I was researching the description of the minerals, I was reading history.”

Thirty years of historical research in Oxford County and across the world, found its way into this book, one of eight in a series.

“This really is the book that I had to do so I could do the next seven,” King said.

There will be three more history books written in the vein of his newest book, one of which is expected to be available as early as July. It will be titled, “Maine Feldspar, Families and Feuds: The Minerals They Fought Over,” King said.

Next year’s book will be the history of mining in Newry and Rumford, and the fourth will be about mining in eastern or southern Oxford County.

“Nobody else was going to go through (history) the way I would go through it,” King said. “I like to wring the last detail out of any page.”

The remaining four books will describe minerals.


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