Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Quarries were a large part of the industry during the 19th Century, as cities were being made, quarried rock was needed. Paul and I lived in Tuckahoe, NY for several years. Most of Tuckahoe had been a quarry that supplied many of the NYC buildings with their marble. Can you image your characters working in or using a quarry?

Below you'll find a brief description about a quarry then some tidbits about quarries.

QUARRY, an excavation in the ground from whence are extracted marble, stone, or chalk, for the purposes chiefly of sculpture and architecture. The name appears to have been applied to such excavations from the circumstance that the materials obtained from them are there quadrated or formed into rectangular blocks.

This information gives one a brief look into the variety of quarries as well as some info on the various stones.
Explanatory Notes
The map which accompanies this report on building stone is on a scale of fifteen miles to an inch. In the absence of colors, exhibiting the geological formations and their limits, it is impossible to show the quarries of the various geological horizons, as the Potsdam sandstones, Trenton limestones, Lower Helderberg limestones, etc. The number of quarries in some of the quarry districts is so great, and they are so close,, that they cannot be indicated by appropriate signs on a map of this scale. Hence, in some cases, the localities alone are given. Thus West Hurley and Phoenicia, in Ulster county, stand for groups of openings in the blue-stone territory of the Hudson river; Reservation, near Syracuse, for the Onondaga gray limestone quarries; Medina, for the quarries in that vicinity, etc. The quarry localities are distinguished by red lines drawn under their names.
Many small and comparatively unimportant quarries, which are worked occasionally for private use or at long intervals only, are not given on the map — nor referred to in the report. Stone for building can be quarried at so many points that a geological map, with the rock outcrops shown by appropriate colors and signs, is necessary to exhibit the natural resources of the State in stone for constructive work.
The map shows the geographical distribution of the important groups of quarries, and their location with reference to the cities and markets of the State, and the lines of canals and railroads and natural waterways, whereby they are reached.
It may be noted here that the development of openings has been along these lines of communication, and near the cities, as for example, along the Hudson-Champlain and Mohawk valleys, and the Erie canal.
Source: Bulletin of the New York State Museum, Issues 7-10 ©1889

Another tidbit gives some information on what the purpose of the stones were for.
Red and Grey Conglomerate.
This rock is found in almost every part of the sandstone region, and many quarries of it have been opened for the purpose of supplying fire-stone for the hearths of iron furnaces. This stone is shipped to various parts of the country for this purpose, and no stone is known superior to it for durability.
Isaac Van Houten’s quarry is one and one-fourth of a mile north of the New city. This quarry is the first that was worked for obtaining furnace hearths, and was opened about fifty years ago. It has not been worked during the last thirty years, until 1838. Mr. Joseph Bird has reopened it, and pays Mr. Van Houten ten dollars rent for every set of furnace hearths he quarries.‘ The quarry is two and a half miles from the landing; and a set of stones for afurnace hearth delivered there, is worth one hundred dollars. One stratum only is quarried for this purpose, and that is three feet thick. Another stratum above might be used, but it is stated to be too tender. This, and most of the quarries of sandstone, were examined by Prof. Cassels. The stone is very porous, and filled with rounded quartz pebbles. It is tender when first quarried, but becomes harder by exposure to the weather. The furnace men prefer that the stones should “season ” one year before they are put into the furnace.
Another quarry, owned by Mr. Cornelius Depew, is about half a mile north of Van Houten’s. Here the stone is grey at the surface, but red two feet below, so that the blocks contain both colors. The stone is stronger, finer grained, and not so tender as Van Houten’s, but in other respects similar. One stratum only is worked at this quarry. The grandson of Mr. Depew works this quarry, and pays fifteen dollars rent per set of blocks for a hearth. The hearths in the Greenwood, Woodbury, and Coldspring furnaces, in 1838, were from this quarry.
Blauvelt’s quarry, three miles northwest of the New city, was worked in 1838 by Isaac Springstein. It is opened near the summit of the hill. The face exposed is about twenty feet high. The uppermost layer is five feet thick. The stone is soft and friable, and is used for furnace hearths, glass works, and for jambs. The proprietor receives thirteen dollars and twenty cents per set.
Another quarry has been opened three miles north of the New city, by Richard Coe. It is the coarse grey sandstone, and near the junction of the trap and sandstone.
Another quarry, one-fourth of a mile west of Coe's quarry, has been opened by Levi Smith. This stone is also the grey sandstone, from near its junction with the trap rock. A locality was observed on the shore two or two and a half miles below Haverstraw, where the conglomerate looks like a good fire-stone. The stratum is four or five feet thick.
Source: Geology of New-York: Comprising the geology of the first geological district ©1843

Tidbit about Quarry Workers
Most quarries in the United States operate 10 hours a day, as may be seen from the figures presented in Table 40. More than onethird of the plants and more than one-third of the pit workers are included in the 10-hour group. Next in numerical importance are the 8-hour plants and men, although the numbers fall considerably short of the 10-hour class. Only slightly less than the 8-hour group are the number of 9-hour quarries and the number of men employed at those quarries.
Among the States having the largest number of quarry employees the records show that the 8-hour men were the predominant group in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; the 9-hour day prevailed in Connecticut, Missouri, and Vermont; while the 10hour men were the largest class in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Source: Bulletin, Issues 335-343 ©1831

1 comment:

  1. I once published a short story about a factory worker in Cleveland who headed west. I should have put him in a quarry when he made it west and he would have remained frustrated with his life. We still have two quarries near here (we live in east central Wyoming). But the quarries that are no longer in existence near here are really fun, the Spanish Diggings, quarried thousands of years ago and worn out mica and onyx sites from the 1800s. Fun post, good idea!