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The Connecticut Stone and Building Industry in 1885


Excerpts from

Mineral Resources of the United States, Calendar Year 1885
David T. Day, Geologist, Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey
Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1887.


Excerpts from the chapter on "Structural Materials," by H. S. Sproull:

"From a few sections of the country reports indicate some falling off in the production of structural materials, but generally there has been a gain for standard descriptions, and occasionally of very decided character. The losses appear to be due to local influences alone, having no further bearing, while the increase may be accepted as a fair reflection from the entire country. The prime factor, leading to a fuller production, was the low ruling cost of material, which presented an attraction for consumption, and led to larger investments in real estate improvements, especially in the larger cities and their suburbs. Some increase in public works and improvements has opened the outlet still wider, and promises additional expansion. Notwithstanding the considerable increase in quantity of material produced in 1885, the value only exceeded that of 1884 in a few instances, and in some cases ran rather behind, as the result of the lower values brought about by various influences, as will be explained farther on. The profits of the manufacturing interest have naturally become somewhat curtailed, yet rarely to a serious extent, and there is very universal testimony to warrant the assertion that no attempt has been made to balance the shrinkage in price by lowering the grade of the product; but, on the contrary, every reasonable effort was put forth to enhance the quality and attractions as an additional stimulant to consumption."

New sources of supply:

"Information concerning new sources of supply is not abundant, but the condition of trade in building stone was hardly calculated to stimulate unusual effort toward development. In Virginia the quarrymen have opened up a few new beds of granite contiguous to old working ground and showing no really new qualities. Between Richmond and Lynchburg the available supplies are becoming greater, and during 1885 a very fine quarry of brownstone was opened at Midway Mills. New Hampshire and Connecticut have added somewhat to the productive capacity. The production in Pennsylvania is increasing slightly, and just at the close of the year another granite quarry was opened near French Creek Falls, Chester county. At Rockfield, Kentucky, an oölitic limestone has been further developed, showing stone of exceptionally good quality, comparing favorably with the Portland oölitic stone of England. An extensive plant has been erected and the necessary rail connections made in order to place the stone upon the market. Considerable prospecting has taken place in the western and southern states, and some valuable quarries of building stone located. In Utah attention is turning toward the fine deposits of white and black marble and brownstone, but no active measures have as yet been taken to utilize the supply, partly owing to absence of proper transportation facilities. An excellent building stone is reported in the southeastern part of Minnesota, of bright-red color, and is called "Minnesota redstone," but no detailed description has been forwarded."


"While the sources from which supplies of lime are drawn, continue practically immeasurable, there is a significant tendency towards the concentration of the production to certain localities. Increased facilities for transportation, with a natural sequence in lower cost of handling and delivery, permits the location of extensive work upon beds of excellent limestone which were previously neglected for want of an accessible market; this concentration and cheapening of production must gradually overshadow the old and somewhat crude systems, except in the most isolated localities."

"The increase of 3,000,000 barrels would have been exceeded but for certain local influences which have led to a curtailment of production in two or three districts of considerable manufacturing importance. All authorities agree that at 50 cents per barrel a fair average value is shown, there being little if any difference in that respect from the preceding year, while in quality some improvement may be credited. The most decided increase during the year was in the same direction noted in 1884. Following largely the Missouri and Mississippi valleys and making some growth on the Pacific coast, it spread somewhat more freely over Texas and made a slight showing in other Gulf States. Virginia and West Virginia are assuming greater importance as contributors to the general supply, and in the Housatonic valley, near Canaan, Connecticut, another considerable supply has become available. Of the latter a local consumption has been common for years, but a new and improved plant and ample means of moving the product will greatly extend the area of distribution."

The following analysis of the Canaan, Connecticut, limestone has been furnished:

Table showing an analysis of Canaan, Connecticut limestone

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