I had the misfortune the other day of having to take an unmarked detour. A detour when you're on a schedule can be very annoying. Unmarked detours are worse. But there are interesting things to notice even on a detour. We were detoured right by the talc mine in Robbins, NC. When I see a road sign with the word "Mine" in it or "Mill" in it, I figure it is often a holdover from a bygone era, but we could see truck tracks on the highway made through a coating of white powder, and that let me know the mine on Talc Mine Road is still in operation.
"What is talc used for?" my son asked.
Of course the first thing I thought of was baby powder or talcum powder. If I recall correctly April Showers was a popular powder in my grandmother's day. I don't remember if it was discontinued or if the company changed the fragrance formula, but I remember the lament of not being able to have that same powder.
I'm sure that in the days before air conditioning, talcum powder was a highly valued toiletry. Talc is still used in body, foot, and first aid powders as well as cosmetics, but that accounts for only 7% of the talc used in the USA. I found it interesting that 75% of the talc used in the USA is for plastics, ceramics, paint and paper.
In looking at Google maps (to see where on earth we had gone while we blindly followed the Sedberry Construction truck in front of us on the detour!), I noticed how highly visible the satellite image of the talc mine is. It shows up as a large creamy white area in a sea of green. I thought that was cool.
Talc--the world's softest mineral.