Wisconsin’s Sandbox: Northern White Brings Arrival of Mines, Money and Tourism | Superior Silica Sands

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Wisconsin’s Sandbox: Northern White Brings Arrival of Mines, Money and Tourism

It has become the most popular tourist destination in Barron County, Wis., according to one official. It’s not the Barron Blue Hills left behind by giant glaciers eons ago in the north­east­ern part of the county, about 50 miles north of Eau Claire. It’s not the Vik­ing Brewery in Dal­las. It’s not even the new Stardust Drive-In Theater in Chetek.

No, the most popular tourist destinations in Barron County these days are the sand mines scattered among the area’s rolling fields and farmlands, according to Dave Armstrong, executive director of Barron County Economic Development Corporation. In August, a group of attendees at the region’s largest tractor show lined up to take bus tours of Superior Silica Sands’ (SSS) sand mine and washing and drying plants in Arland.

The visitors might not know it, but Wisconsin is the “Saudi Arabia of sand,” as the Wall Street Journal called it – which makes the state a key supporting actor in America’s energy revolution. It’s the leading producer of sand used in hydraulic fracturing, which is integral to the domestic surge in oil and natural gas output that has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer.

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