The Spring River Valley, which comprises the western line of the Black River valley is bordered by a 50-foot-high bluff that extends from the northern boundary of Lawrence County near the Spring and Black Rivers through Powhatan to the west. An outcropping of rock formations parallels the bluff line, from which many tons of iron, zinc, and lead were mined, mainly between the years 1855-1891.
"lead mine consisting of 20 pits was dug six miles from Powhatan by E.W. Houghton during the same time the Calamine smelter was in operation. According to public records, 1,000-3,000 tons of lead, some containing silver (galena), were removed, but operations were suspended because of shipping difficulties to processing furnaces. Deposits of zinc carbonate were also discovered at Powhatan in 1857 or 1858. Although Powhatan was a better location for a zinc smelter than Calamine because of its abundant charcoal resources and more accessible river transportation, this new industry developed slowly and flourished only briefly. The Civil War ended both production and shipping activities in this industry. This was a profitable industry because zinc, as a component of brass, was used in galvanized metal roofing, pipes, and paint. The present landscape of Powhatan and old photographs housed in the Powhatan Courthouse Museum bears evidence that large zinc-mining ventures operated there. Large zinc smelters were located in both Ft. Smith and Van Buren."
In 1887, it was said that miners made discoveries of silver near Powhatan, assayed at 27 ounces per ton of dirt and rock.1
1.Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) · Tue, Nov 29, 1887 · Page 3 business news.pdf