“Serpentines of the Various States and Territories,” pp. 363-364:
Connecticut - Serpentine. - “…The serpentine deposits of Connecticut are thus described by Professor Shepard.* ‘Connecticut prospers, however, in the green marbles of Milford, a material for decoration much more beautiful and highly prized than white marble. These were first detected in 1811. Two quarries were soon after opened, one near the village of Milford, and called the Milford Quarry; the other 2 ½ miles west of New Haven, and called the New Haven quarry. They were wrought with considerable activity for several years, and furnished an abundance of very rich marble; but as the working of them was attended with heavy expense from the difficulty of obtaining blocks of large dimensions that were perfectly sound, and from the labor required in sawing and polishing, they were in a few years abandoned, and have for a long time been in a neglected condition. The experiment proved an unfortunate one, therefore, not from any deficiency of marble or its lack of beauty - for these were both fully admitted - but from a want of wealth and taste in the country to sustain the price.
(* Page 363 footnote: Report on the geological survey of Connecticut, by C. U. Shepard, 1837, pp. 101-103.)
. “The quarry at Milford is capable of furnishing abundant supplies of this highly valued marble (i.e., the verde antique variety), although, from the circumstances that it occupies narrow and irregular seams among the veined marble blocks or slabs of any size, it must always be dear compared with pieces sawn as formerly, without any regard to its separation from the more common kind. * * * Whenever the attempt to work it is made, it is to be hoped that the experience of the past will prevent its use for monuments exposed to the weather, for besides the incongruity of its colors compared with the marbles usually employed for this purpose, it soon loses its luster and emits color from the action of the weather on the grains of magnetic iron ore it contains.
“The New Haven marble, though destitute of accidental and in some measure classical value which pertains to the Milford variety, is nevertheless a beautiful thing for decoration. In vivacity of colors and the delicacy of their arrangement it is hardly capable of being surpassed. It may be described as a bluish gray or dove-colored limestone clouded with greenish yellow serpentine, the latter containing black grains and sheet veins of magnetic iron ore. The disposition of the colors is cloud-like, flamed, and veined. It polishes with difficulty consequence of the magnetic iron it contains, which, though it heightens its beauty, unfits it for exposure to the weather.’ So far as the present writer is aware these quarries have not been worked since the time mentioned by Professor Shepherd; i.e., since a few years subsequent to 1811.”
“Limestones and Dolomites. Marbles,” in Connecticut, pp. 376.
“Connecticut. - In the northern part of Litchfield County, near the Massachusetts line, in the town of Canaan, East Canaan, and Falls Village, there occur massive beds of a coarsely crystalline white dolomite, which have in years past furnished valuable building marbles, though recently they have been but little worked. The stone is said to weather well and to be obtainable in large blocks eminently suited for building, but like the Lee dolomite, it frequently contains crystals of white tremolite, which weather out on exposure. It is therefore not so well suited for finely finished or monumental work. The State-House at Hartford is the most important structure yet made from this material.
“As already noted (ante, p. 288), it was at Marble Dale, in the town of Milford, in this State that marble quarrying was first systematically undertaken in this country, and at one time (1830) not less than fifteen quarries were in active operation in the vicinity. So far as can be learned not a single one of these is now being worked.”
Granites in Connecticut, pp. 412-413.
“Connecticut. - ‘Extensive quarries of granite and gneiss are located at various points in this State, especially near Thomaston and Roxbury, in Litchfield County, on Long Island Sound, Fairfield County, near Ansonia, Bradford, and Stony Creek, New Haven County, Haddam, Middlesex County, and near Lyme, Mantie, Groton, and Mason’s Island, New London County. The Connecticut granites and gneisses are usually fine-grained and light gray in color, and the appearance is usually so characteristic as to distinguished them (sic) from other granites in the Atlantic states.’*
(* Page 412 footnote: Report Tenth Census, Vol. X, p. 127.)
“The most of these stones are, however, quarried only for local use, and but few find their way into markets outside the State. A beautiful light gray muscovite-biotite granite is quarried at Thomaston and Reynolds Bridge, which for evenness of grain and clearness of color can not be excelled. The stone from Roxbury is a trifle darker, but though of fine and even grain and acquiring a good polish, is used only for curbings, foundations, and pavings. The Ansonia rock is a very fine-grained muscovite-biotite gneiss, and has been used for general building purposes in New Haven and Bridgeport. The Leetes Island and Stoney Creek rocks are of pink color, the first mentioned being sometimes very coarsely porphyritic. A turned column of the Leetes Island rock in the Museum shows large pink orthoclase crystals 2 inches or more in length embedded in the finer gray groundmass of the rock. A beautiful and very coarsely crystalline red granite occurs near Lyme, but for some unexplained reason the stone is not in the market. It has been used to some extent in Newport, R. I., and some of the material may be seen in the Chaney Memorial Church at this place. Contrary to the general rule in red granites, the feldspars of this rock are not opaque, but quite clear and transparent, and in point of beauty the rock far excels the celebrated Scotch granites from Peterhead. The Haddam, Greenwich, and Bridgeport gneisses are all hornblendic, very dark gray, and split readily in the direction of their lamination; their uses are strictly local.”
Diabase in Connecticut, pp. 434.
“In the eastern United States the dikes of diabase are frequently associated with deposits of red or brown Triassic sandstone, which are also extensively quarried, as will be noted further on. Concerning these dikes Professor Dana writes:*…”
(* Page 433, footnote 3: Manual of Geology, third edition, p. 417.)
“‘In Connecticut the ridges and dikes are extremely numerous, showing a vast amount of igneous action. * * * They commence near Long Island Sound, at New Haven, where they form some bold eminences, and extend through the State and nearly to the northern boundary of Massachusetts. Mounts Holyoke and Tom are in the system. The general course is parallel to that of the Green Mountains ….’
“Connecticut. - The extensive diabase outcrops noted above as occurring at East and West Rocks, north of New Haven in this State, are quarried for foundation walls and for paving purposes in the near vicinity. The rock is too dull in color for ornamental work.”
Sandstones in Connecticut, pp. 446-448.
“Connecticut. - As already noted (ante, p. 289) the first quarries of sandstone to be systematically worked in this country were those located in the now well-known Triassic beds at Portland and Middletown in this State. The area of the Triassic deposit in New England as given by Dana* extends from New Haven on Long Island Sound to northern Massachusetts, having a length of 110 miles and an average width of 20 miles. The stone is at present quarried only at Portland, Middlesex County, East Haven, New Haven County, and Manchester, Hartford County; though small quarries have been worked from time to time to furnish stone for local consumption at East Windsor, Hayden’s Station, Suffield, Newington, Farmington, and Forrestville in this same county. The Manchester stone is a beautiful fine-grained reddish variety, and that from East Haven is represented as excellent for rock-faced work. The Portland quarries are, however, by far the most important of any of these, and it is estimated that from their combined areas not less than 4,300,000 cubic feet of material have been taken.
(* Page 446 footnote: Manual of Geology, p. 404. The entire area of the Triassic sandstones in the United States as given by this authority is divided into three parts: (1) the Connecticut area as given above; (2) the Palisade area, commencing along the west side of the Hudson River in the southeast corner of New York, near Piermont, and stretching south westward, through Pennsylvania, as far as Orange County, Va., about 350 miles long; and (3) the North Carolina area, commencing near the Virginia line and extending through North Carolina over the Deep River region, 120 miles long.”)
“As of now (circa 1886) worked at this place the quarries descend with absolutely perpendicular walls on three sides for a depth in some cases of upwards of 150 feet, the fourth side being sloping to allow passage for teams or workmen. The stone is of medium fineness of texture, of a uniform reddish-brown color, and lies in nearly horizontal beds varying from a few inches to 20 feet in thickness. Natural blocks 100 by 50 by 20 feet occur, and hence blocks of any desired size can be obtained. In quarrying, channeling machines are used to some extent, though in many cases large blocks are first loosened by means of deep drill holes and heavy charges of powder, and these then split up by wedges. The blocks are roughly trimmed down with picks at the quarry and shipped thus to New York and other large cities to be worked up as occasion demands. Scarcely any of the material is dressed at the quarries. The stone has been used in all our leading cities, particularly in New York , and has even been shipped to San Francisco via Cape Horn. But little quarrying is done in cold weather, as care must be taken against freezing while the stone is full of quarry water, a temperature of 22° F. being sufficient to freeze and burst fine blocks of freshly-quarried material. About a week or ten days of good drying weather is considered sufficient to so season a stone as to place it beyond danger from frost.
“Great outcry has from time to time been raised against the Portland stone on account of its disposition to scale or flake off when laid in exposed places. While it is undoubtedly true that it is unfit for carved work in exposed situations, still the author can but feel that the architect and builder are largely responsible for the many ruined fronts caused by this scaling, to be seen in New York and elsewhere. It is the almost invariable custom in building to split the stone with the grain into slabs but a few inches thick and to veneer the walls of buildings with these slabs placed on edge. Let thicker blocks be used and the stone laid on its bed, as nature laid it down in the quarry, and this defect will prove less serious, if it be not entirely remedied. But no stone that is capable of absorbing so large a percentage of water as is much of the Connecticut and other of our Triassic stones, can be more than very moderately durable in the very trying climate of our Northern States.
“There is, however, a vast difference in material from the same quarry. I have seen tombstones perfectly sound and legible after an exposure of nearly two hundred years, while others begin to scale in less than ten. The remarks made in the chapter in selection of stone are especially applicable here.”
(Photo caption on page 442)
Plate IX. Quarries of Triassic Sandstone, Portland, Connecticut. Drawn from a photograph.