French E. Sheets, Adam Rule, and his wife, Mary, sold one acre of land in what became the town of Eagle Rock at the base of Rathole Mountain along the James River for the sum of $40 to Robert S. Bucks, Wilbur F. Goodwin, and Joseph B. Buhrman on June 1, 1878. 1 The trio formed a partnership known as the Eagle Rock Co-Operational Association No. 325 of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry to produce lime.
Initially, limestone was quarried nearby and transported to the kilns by a system of cables over the James River until 1880, when a bridge was built. 2
Most of the line produced was sold to the many iron furnaces in the area as it was used as a catalyst in the production of pig iron, while others were sold to farmers for agricultural needs or for whitewash. 1 2 Lime was shipped by wagon or packet boats along the James River & Kanawha Canal.
On January 22, 1881, the Eagle Rock Co-Op sold its holdings to French Sheets, William B. Carper, Wilbur F. Goodwin, Francis W. Hunter, Samuel Noffsinger, and Robert S. Whitten, which formed F.E. Sheets & Company. 1 Goodwin was the only one of the original owners to join the new company.
On September 21, the Richmond & Alleghany Railroad was completed between Richmond and Clifton Forge along the James River and the James River & Kanawha Canal, which made the transport of lime to many more prospective customers easier and cheaper. 1
Carper sold his holdings to F.E. Sheets & Company on October 1, 1884, with Hunter selling his holdings at an undetermined time. 1 The Moore Lime Company of Richmond made an offer to acquire the F.E. Sheets & Company in 1885, with the deal completed later in the year. It included all holdings except for the company store, which was retained by Sheets, Goodwin, Noffsinger, and Whitten.
Moore Lime Company continued to operate the business until 1933, when it was taken over by the Virginia Lime Products Company. 1 The Eagle Rock Lime Company, which operated on the south side of the James River, purchased the holdings of Virginia Lime Products in 1942 and continued to operate the facility until 1954, when all lime production operations at Eagle Rock ceased.
- Benson, Cathy. “250th Anniversary Celebration: Lime Kilns in Eagle Rock.” The Botetourt Bee, 10 Mar. 2020.
- “The lime kilns at Eagle Rock.” Photography In Place, 2 Jul. 2014.