- PORTNACROISH, a village, in the parish of Lismore and Appin, district of Lorn, county of Argyll. This village, situated on the estate of Laroch, at the foot of Glencoe, has gradually sprung up in consequence of the extensive operations in the adjacent slate-quarries, and is in a thriving and progressive state, and occupied principally by miners and others connected with the works. Previously to the year 1760 the then proprietor opened a vein, which was wrought with great profit for many years; but another being discovered, that offered superior facilities for quarrying, the works were transferred to it from the former, and have been there carried on for more than fifty years. These veins, which are so extensive as to be considered inexhaustible, are on the opposite sides of a valley; and the quarries now wrought are situated in the bed of a high mountain rising out of Loch Leven, a branch of Loch Linnhe. The rock is annually let to parties who manufacture the slates by contract, and are paid at a price before agreed upon. The colour of the material is a deep blue, spotted with pyrites, which are called by the workmen "diamonds," and are incorporated into the texture of the slate. The quantity annually produced varies from 8000 to 11,000 tons; and from five to seven millions of slates are formed, which are shipped to sea-ports both in Scotland and Northumberland, to be transmitted thence to most parts of the kingdom. Cargoes of them are sometimes even sent to America and the West India colonies. The number of persons employed, comprehending those engaged in the preservation and repair of the machinery, &c., amounts to about 300. The blocks, when separated from the rubbish within the quarries, are conveyed by waggon-trains on tram-roads to a bank raised in the sea by refuse thrown over. Here the slates are split and dressed; and they are afterwards conveyed by other tram-roads, along inclined planes, to the harbour, which is formed by banks of rubbish projecting into the sea on each side, and is safe and commodious. The distance from the most remote part of the quarries to the wharf does not exceed 650 yards. The larger part of the persons engaged in the works have houses built with stone and lime, slated, and consisting of three apartments; and to each of the houses are generally attached a cow-house, a small vegetable garden, and some potato-ground. The fuel in use is mostly coal, brought in the vessels which come for slates.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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