Shoals – Discovery of Gypsum
In the early 1950s, National Gypsum geologists had a hunch there might be gypsum under the farmland along Indiana's White River. The company sent a representative to ask farmers if it could do core drilling.
Shrouded in secrecy, the core drillers did not know why they were drilling. The deposit they found was a good one, approximately 400 feet underground and about 14 feet thick
In addition to gypsum, the company also had to find a reliable source of water to make wallboard. It drilled a series of dry holes until the 10th attempt tapped into an underground lake about two miles away. The company also built a rail spur and brought in gas, telephone, and electricity to its new mine and plant.
The plant opened in 1954 and the first shipment went to a building material dealer in nearby Bedford, IN. Robert Scifres, who later became chairman of National Gypsum, was Shoals' first plant manager. John P. (Jack) Hayes was the Indianapolis sales manager assigned to sell production from the new plant. Hayes also became chairman of National Gypsum.
" 'Many folks weren't too interested in getting improvements that the town needed badly,' said Harold (Red) McCameron, owner of the Shoals Café. 'Now, because of the gypsum, they've changed their tune.'
With Halbert Township's tax income rising from $950,000 in 1954 to $2,500,000 this year, the town and the township have been able to do a lot. The courthouse, built in 1876, was remodeled completely at a cost of $67,000. Ten old stoves were replaced by a modern heating system. A new $9000 fire truck was delivered Fire Chief Walstine Griffin." – Indianapolis Star, 1954.
Shoals deposit owned by NGC and USG
If you were to look at a fried egg in a skillet, you would see a near image of the gypsum deposit at Shoals. Discount the yolk, that rock is not good, but the surrounding "white" of the egg is good quality rock. The edges of the deposit are jagged, just as a hastily cracked egg might appear in a frying pan.
National Gypsum owns half of the deposit. USG owns the remainder.
The deposit is a 14-foot seam that in 2005 had been worked for 50 years. Management believes there is another 10 years of 14-foot rock. The remaining deposit is 6-8 feet tall.