I kicked off 2020 in auspicious style with a bracing winter morning guided hike in a nature preserve. Because there is no rest unto the history nerd, the area turns out to have been quarried for granite in the 19th century. There were several quarry pits, once blasted to blocks, now picturesque views for random passersby.
Even in the steam age, those quarry pits were worked only with immense effort, and at this site for granite that was of mediocre quality at best, good for curbing and trimming. The clifftops had to be cleared of copious vegetation, a seam in the granite identified, holes drilled in it and black power packed into them to blast open the seam. Blocks weighing tens of tons were raised with wooden derricks and shifted to cutting sheds to be sized, shaped and polished to order.
When the industry died in the 1920s, its lifeblood choked off by the sudden spike in demand for black powder and soldiers during World War I, the quarry operators didn’t bother clearing out all that heavy iron and wood equipment. The result is things like this in the middle of a rare pine pitch barren preserve.
One of the hikers called it a “boom,” but I have no idea what that is in a 19th century quarrying context.
May your New Year be full of happy accidental history!
9 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”
The boom, think of a big long fishing pole that has a pulley rigged with heavy rope or steel cable stuck on the end. It would have counter weights and a lot more pulleys, stay wires to keep it from going sideways and a small steam engine to do the lifting. In Roman times, it would have had ten or more men doing the pulling or a few horses.
That first photo reminds me of Isle La Motte in Vermont. There is an old granite quarry there as well as the goodsell ridge preserve that has fossils of some of the earliest life on earth.
First, please let me say that while I’m not an expert in quarrying methods, I made a substantial study of the history of the soapstone industry in Virginia, which resulted in a self-published book on that subject. The techniques for taking soapstone were not all that different from what I observed when I visited the Rock of Ages granite quarries in Vermont, and were also used in the slate industry.
Norm is probably right about the log being a crane boom, and his observations about how a “stiff-legged derrick” was built in the 19th century are correct. I have numerous pictures of these cranes. At the later soapstone quarries being worked into the 1960s, the booms had evolved into much longer steel affairs. Some of them were still in the weeds at quarries around Schuyler and Alberene, Virginia when I did my research in the late 1980s
I believe that you might find that black powder or dynamite were little used in the “dimension stone” industry (as opposed to gravel quarries), except for clearing overburden (layers of trash rock over the more valuable quarry stone). Use of explosives would have fractured the soapstone, and I suppose granite as well. The holes you may see in discarded blocks were part of the removal process. A series of holes were drilled in lines under and around the targeted block using steam or air drills. Next two half circles of substantial pipe were driven down into each hole. Then metal rods were forced between the pipes. Eventually the gradual pressure would break the block free along the line of holes. These tools were called “plugs and feathers”, though I’m no longer sure which was which.
Often quarries shut down when removable stone became too expensive, or too dangerous, to recover due to instability of the quarry walls, and the holes filled with water. Sometimes the machinery was simply left in place, rather than being scrapped, as the quarry might later be pumped out and quarrying continued with more efficient methods. The quarries around Schuyler were still littered with useless machinery until new owners using more modern techniques reopened the works and did a massive clean up around 1990. I was told by locals that there were two steam locomotives at the bottom of a flooded slate quarry not far from the soapstone works.
(aka Garth Groff)
Happy New Year 2020. Out there at India’s Anandwan, in the subdivision of Warora in the district of Chandrapur in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, age-old open abandoned quarries are disappearing. Leprosy combatants and leprosy victors of the Maharogi Seva Samiti (MSS Warora) have found a novel way of converting the abandoned open quarries into luxuriant forests and wildlife sanctuaries. They go about collecting all sorts of plastic waste and dump it in those deep quarries. They cover that plastic waste with heaps of mud on it. In due course of time local plants, creepers, trees, grass and vegetation begins to grow and invite all sorts of reptiles, and animals like leopards, tigers, deer, foxes, wolves, wild boars, monkeys, etc. The creators of those man-made forests say that it is their way of saying ‘thank you’ to the piece of the Planet they are privileged to serve.
Happy New Year, and thanks for all the history! I live in New England where there are lots of abandoned quarries, many of which I’ve been led to via geocaching. (Lots of old cellar-holes and stone walls, too, all marking places that used to be inhabited/settled/farmed but most of which have now gone back to forest…)
Happy New Year Everyone!
Earlier today, I was trying to put on here unsuccessfully a link to a ‘Pentaspastos’, one each on ‘Kriemhildenstuhl’ and ‘Heidenmauer_(Bad_Dürkheim)’ -plus- a spectacular drone flight YT video over the entire area:
The Heidenmauer (‘heathen wall’) near Bad Dürkheim is a circular Celtic rampart or ringwork. In the 4th century A. D. a small part of the circular rampart as well as the Kriemhildenstuhl below was used by the Romans as a quarry.
Happy New Year. Thanks for all these great posts.
TESTIMONY ON HOW I GOT MY LOAN FROM A GENUINE LOAN COMPANY LAST WEEK.
I am Vera Lopez by name, I live in California, United State Of America, who have been a scam victim to so many fake lenders online between February last year(2019) till December(2019) but i thank my creator so much that he has finally smiled on me by directing me to this new lender who put a smile on my face in the year 2019 and he did not scam me and also by not deceiving or lying to me but however this lender whose name is Mr Wayne Scarlet gave me 3% loan which amount is $ 150,000 united states dollars after my agreement to their company terms and conditions and one significant thing i love about this loan company is that they are fast
You can contact the loan lender via
HELLO I AM MR WAYNE SCARLET A PRIVATE LOAN LENDER WHO OFFERS A SECURED LOAN SERVICES OF ANY AMOUNT WITH A 3% INTEREST RATE.
CONTACT ME TO GET A LOAN FAST, SECURE AND WITHOUT A DOWN PAYMENT
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED SEND YOUR RESPONSE FOR MORE INFORMATION
EMAIL : (WAYNESCARLETLOANFIRMS@GMAIL.COM)
WHATSAPP : (+1 805-457-5988)