Friday, May 18, 2007

New England Granite

A piece of the New England coast.

New England industrialized granite sometime around the late 1860s. With an influx of labor returning to New England from the Civil War, soldiers were looking for work. As the war ended the troops were looking for direction, and their next assignment. Because they had worked together in life and death situations, many of them had developed a close bond with each other. They wanted to stay with the company of men that had worked together to maintain their existence.

The officers of the company felt a responsibility to their men. They were the leaders, not only of their troops, but also of the communities that they came from. They had recruited these men and felt an obligation to provide work for them now that the war was over. The question was where could they find work for all these men. They needed an industry that was labor intensive, and was available in their community.

The rocky crags along the New England coast provided the answer. These granite outcroppings led to the discovery of large deposits of granite hundreds of feet deep in the ground. This stone was an excellent choice for building the infrastructure that was needed throughout the United States. Buildings, bridges, seawalls and even monuments decorating our cemeteries were needed throughout the country. Granite was the homegrown stone and with all the quarries being developed the supply was endless.

The problem of getting the stone out of the ground was solved with all the available labor from the soldiers.

Quarrying granite is a very labor-intensive business. Even with heavy machinery and equipment, it takes a lot of manpower to move stone that weighs 170-180 pounds per cubic foot. Think of it this way; a block that measures 12 x 12 x 12 inches will weigh on average 175 pounds.

Some of the New England towns and communities where granite originates from are as follows:

Barre, Montpelier, Williamstown, Hardwick, Morrisville, Plainfield, Northfield, West Berlin, Waterbury, Groton, Ryegate, Chelmsford, Milford, Mason, Cape Ann, Gloucester, Quincy, Concord, Deer Isle, Rockport and Penobscot Bay District.

With all of these sources available it is easy to see how granite became such a large industry in New England. Over the 100 year period from 1860 to 1960 granite was the primary source of income for many communities in New England. Fathers taught sons, and the skill of cutting stone was passed down from generation to generation.

Granite was extracted from the ground in huge quantities. This stone was cut, shaped, split and fabricated in many ways creating the finished products that adorn our country. Fabricating all of these products created large caches of stone that was cast aside as unusable for the stonecutters’ work. This stone is piled up in quarries throughout New England. As the quarries shut down for various reasons, piles of stone were left behind that over time developed into aged granite that is now in demand for landscaping and building veneer projects. There is literally millions of ton of material piled up in quarries scattered throughout New England.

It is my job to get the word out that this stone exists. We have some beautiful New England granite in our yard that originates from these majestic quarries.

The stone is excellent for stonewalls, veneer and flagging. It comes in square and rectangular and mosaic “broken ice” pieces. The square and rectangular is ideal for stonewalls and veneers that require a lot of corner work or straight lines. The mosaic is fantastic for flagging, steppers or natural steps to accent the beauty in both residential and commercial landscaping.

This granite has rich dark earthy colors. Because it has been exposed to the elements for the last 50+ years, some of the stone has a weathered patina to it. The freshly split pieces look aged because of the color of the stone. The beige brown and gray colors blend well to give the stone a weathered look without having to wait.

This stone also blends in well with the New England fieldstone. The blocky pieces of granite do a nice job of complimenting the rounded natural look of the fieldstone. Since it all comes from New England, the stone is related. The difference is how it was brought into use.

The granite was transformed into small workable pieces by the hands of talented craftsman.

Mother nature and the evolution of the earth helped us process the fieldstone. As the earth’s plates shifted and moved the stone trapped between these plates was broken up and pushed to the surface. A curse for the farmers, but a treasure for those who enjoy the beauty of fieldstone.

Whatever your application, use New England granite for its elegant beauty and lasting strength.

Remember it for its rich history and timeless resource to the tradition of New England.


Anonymous said...

Great story and terrific looking stone.

Shirona said...

Very informative....Did I recognize some Granite from Maine? Say Hi to Don for me....