|By Dennis Brown
though Carey Highfield had farmed the land for years, he had no idea that lying beneath
the top soil were millions of tons of sand and gravel just waiting to be discovered.
Two years ago, Highfield, 33, was doing some backhoe work near his home on
Ky.Rt. 8 near the old Lock & Dam 32, when he discovered the sand and various grades of
Following further investigation and some core drilling for samples, Highfield
applied for a surface mining permit. Two years later the permit, Lewis County #1, was
approved and last Monday Lewis County Sand & Gravel Inc. sold its first official load
of concrete sand removed from the site.
Highfield said it seemed like forever from the beginning of the application
process to the approval.
Numerous engineering reports had to be filed, mandatory inspections, safety
training, more reports, more training and a lot of waiting.
Highfield says the operation is pretty much mom and pop.
He does the digging, separating and loading. His wife, Vickie, a licensed level
II aggregate technician, does the paperwork and is also in charge of the on-site lab.
Highfield removes the material from the ground and places it in a separator.
There it is scrubbed, washed and separated into sand, pea gravel, larger gravel (#57),
larger rock utilized as base and oversize rocks.
The sand and gravel are then placed where the water can drain away into a
holding pond and is then ready to be sold.
Dennis Brown/Lewis County Herald
Carey Highfield stands near the separator located at Lewis County Sand & Gravel Inc.
The quarry opened for business last week on Ky. Rt. 8 west of Vanceburg.
Highfield said the permit covers a 30-acre area and engineers estimate a
reserve of 3,233,000 tons of material at the site.
At full volume, Highfield said, he can process about 1,200 tons per day.
The sand and gravel at the site, he said, is actually glacial deposits, likely
left there when the Wisconsinian Ice Sheet receded some 18,000 years ago. According to
geological maps, the ice sheet extended south to the area of the Ohio River here.
The gravel is a mixture of smoothly rounded rocks of various compositions. Some
show evident fossil formation, others are various colors including white, green, red and
various mixtures of those colors.
Highfield said he is loading every day and, since their home is only steps away
from the company's office, he can usually be found easily.
For information on Lewis County Sand & Gravel Inc., call 606-796-6473 or