(Please note: Gypsum quarries will not be included in this list.)
Basalt (above), Eagle County, Colorado – Sandstone Quarry at Peach Blow, a station of the Midland Railroad (Sandstone) (From: A descriptive History of Eagle County, Colorado: relating to mining, agriculture, stock and scenery, by William McCabe, 1899, pp. 15. (This book is available on Google Books.)
“Besides mining, agriculture and stock, Eagle county has other industries which lead to manufacturers and increase the revenue of the Industrious….The county also has two quarries, whose products are used in the construction of business blocks in the larger cities of the state. One of these, situated at Sherwood, on the D. & R. G., has shipped stone as far east as Chicago. It is a red sandstone, noted for its good qualities. The other quarry is at Peach Blow, a station in the Midland Railroad above the town of Basalt. Its rock is a grand quality of sandstone. These quarries have never been worked to their fullest point of production, but they have a state reputation for the excellence of their material….”
|“Harding sandstone on gneiss and schists 1.5 miles northwest of Canyon [City], looking north from below spring west of Harding’s quarry. The man’s feet are on the contact. Fremont County, Colorado. 1890. Plate 19-B in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 52. 1906. USGS Photographic Library ID. Walcott, C.D. 151 wcd00151”|
|“Contact of Silurian Sandstone on pre-Paleozoic Gneiss and Schists. Looking north from below the spring west of the Harding Sandstone Quarry, one mile north of the Arkansas River and one and 1/2 mile northwest of Canyon City. Canyon City. Freemont County. Colorado. 1890. USGS Photographic Library ID. Walcott, C.D. 152 wcd00152”|
|“Quarry in Harding sandstone on east slope of mountains 2.5 miles northwest of Canyon [City], looking north, Granite to left, Harding sandstone in quarry, Fremont limestone and ‘Red Beds’ in slopes to right. Fremont County, Colorado. 1890. Plate 8-A in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 52. 1906. USGS Photographic Library ID. Walcott, C.D. 153 wcd00153”|
|“Harding Sandstone Quarry, two and 1/2 miles northwest of Canyon City. Fremont County, Colorado. 1890. USGS Photographic Library ID. Walcott, C.D. 167 wcd00167”|
(from the web site) “Rhyolite stone from one of the only sources in Colorado is dug from the ground and then broken with hammers for use in decorative building applications.” (There are links on the web site showed structures on which the rhyolite stone was used as a façade.)
“Incorporated – The American Marble Company, Denver, Colo. The directors of the company are William B. Willard, John W. Starkweather and John H. Routt. The capital stock is $200,000. The company will operate in Colorado.”
“A short time ago Granite Marble & Bronze sent out a questionnaire to thousands of retail monument dealers throughout the country for information regarding the part the motor truck plays in the retail monument business….”
“Of course, the real interest in connection with this digest is in quoting what the dealers have to say about the subject, for the sayings are many and various….”
The McFarlane-Eggers Machinery Co.
2763 Blake St., Denver, Colo.
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For a good summary of John Duff McGilvray’s occupation as a stone contractor, his stone companies, and his family, visit Barbara Lewellen’s detailed and informative web site, “Our Scottish Ancestors.” The web site presents the history of her McGilvray family and the many men in her family who worked as stone masons and stone contractors in Scotland; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and California, et al. A lot of history and many wonderful photographs are presented on her web site.
According to Lewellen’s web site, the McGilvray men first worked as “…stone masons, working in the quarries in the Tayside area near Dundee, Scotland.” According to the “John Duff McGilvray & Marion Beaton” section of the web site, McGilvray family’s immigration from Scotland to Chicago, Illinois, circa 1870 is described. In 1876 they moved on to Denver, Colorado, in 1876. About 1892, John D. McGilvray moved his family to Palo Alto near San Francisco, California.
Sections of the Lewellen’s web site that relate to John D. McGilvray’s stone businesses include:
- The “John Duff McGilvray & Marion Beaton” section which provides many photographs that follow John D. McGilvray’s stone companies in Chicago, Denver, and then in California, including his work on the outer quad at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and some of the many buildings in which his company provided stone in California.
- “Buildings contracted for Stone Masonry supplied by McGilvray, Hayes, Seerie, and Findlay along with partners William F. Geddes, Varnum, and Cain, Denver, Colorado”
- The McGilvray Stone Company, Madera County, California.
Another web site that provides some photos of the McGilvray Quarry is “McGilvray Quarry at Knowles,” presented by Ken Doig on the Madera County CAGenWeb Project web site:
The following 1921 article published in San Francisco briefly describes John D. McGilvray’s early life and provides a full description of the history of his stone company and his goal to increase the use of California stone in building construction.
“California’s Granites are Unsurpassed. John D. McGilvray, Pioneer Stone Man, Develops Great Industry Here” “Company Builds Mausoleums for our Cemeteries: Many of Finest Structures on Pacific Coast Erected by His Firm” (pdf), in the “Little Journeys to the Homes of Big Industries,” section of the San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 1921, pp. 7.
“In 1897 he incorporated the McGilvray Stone Company for the purpose of popularizing the California product in building construction. Later in 1907, he reincorporated under the name of McGilvray-Raymond Granite Company, of which corporation he remained the head until his death in 1916.”
This article also states that John D. McGilvray was one of the main forces responsible for the increasing use of California stone in the state’s buildings:
“This was the now promising stone industry. Although a few experts and master stone men, like John D. McGilvray, founder of the great McGilvray-Raymond Granite Co., with a half dozen of the largest quarries in the country now in operation, knew of the wonderful possibilities of California stone on account of its superior qualities, yet it was not extensively used owing to ancient methods.
“A few stone buildings had been created before this time, but the cost was almost prohibitive. McGilvray introduced modern methods of handling stone in building construction, which made it possible to use it in competition with other materials. By this means he constructed a market for California stone. He lived to see the day when his judgment was sustained by the almost universal acceptance of his opinion that California granite for qualities of durability and capacity to take a fine finish, whether hammered or polished, was unequaled anywhere in the world.”
“After the great fire and earthquake of 1906 he had a clear demonstration of his contentions that California stone was the best building material for large buildings in the West….” Some of the many stone buildings that John D. McGilvray’s company was involved in are listed in this article. He’s famous for building the first “sky-scraper” in San Francisco for Claus Spreckels in 1898.
After John D. McGilvray’s death in 1916, his sons continued operating the McGilvray-Raymond Granite Company: John D. McGilvray, the eldest son, was president and general manager. H. S. McGilvray was vice-president, and he was in charge of construction work in San Francisco. A. B. McGilvray was treasurer, and he managed the “great granite quarry at Raymond” in Madera County. W. S. McGilvray was in charge of the company’s operation in Los Angeles at 678 South Utah Street. Malcolm McGilvray, the fifth son, was the assistant secretary for the company.
The article goes on to describe the quarries that the McGilvray-Raymond Granite Company operated:
The McGilvray sandstone quarry near Sites in Colusa County.
(If you’d like learn more about the history of this quarry and to view photographs of this quarry, you can visit the “Colusa County Quarry” section of our web site, and scroll down to the McGilvray quarry entries and photographs.)
The Stanford / Goodrich (aka the Greystone) sandstone quarry at Greystone in Santa Clara County, California. Sandstone from this quarry was used to build the outer quad of the Stanford University in Palo Alto.
According to The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, published in 1906, the McGilvray Stone Company was located at Second and King Streets in San Francisco. About 1916, McGilvray’s home office was located at 634 Townsend street in San Francisco, according to a 1916 California State Mining Bureau report. McGilvray leased the quarry from from the heirs of Levi Goodrich.
(If you’d like to view photographs of the Greystone quarry (aka the Stanford or Goodrich quarry), you can visit the “Santa Clara County Quarry” section of our web site, and scroll down to the Stanford/Greystone/Goodrich quarry entries and photographs.)
The McGilvray granite quarry at Raymond/Knowles in Madera County, California.
(If you’d like to view photographs of the McGilvray granite quarry located at Raymond/Knowles area, you can visit the “Photo Tour of the Inactive McGilvray Quarry” section of our web site to view a photographic tour of the quarry and area. If you wish to find historical information and photographs of the quarry, visit the “Madera County Quarries” section and scroll down to the McGilvray quarry entries.)
The granite quarry at Lakeside in San Diego County, California. (Granite from the Lakeside quarry in San Diego was sold as “Silver Gray” granite.)
(You can visit the Lakeside-Foster area of the “San Diego County Quarry” section of our web site for information on the McGilvray granite quarry there. We do not have much information yet or photographs of this quarry, but we hope to visit the area sometime this year. Peggy B. Perazzo)
The names of McGilvray’s of companies include:
In Denver: the “John D. McGilvray and Company” & “John D. McGilvray and Company.”
In California: “McGilvray Stone Company,” McGilvray Stone Company; in 1907 he incorporated under the name of the McGilvray-Raymond Granite Co.; Raymond Granite Co.
The Mine & Smelter Supply Co., Denver, Colo.
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“The Sullivan Machinery Company now has offices in Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Knoxville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Duluth, Dallas, Joplin, Denver, Spokane, El Paso, Salt Lake, Toronto, Vancouver, Mexico City, Santiago in Chile, and Lima in Peru. In the old world it maintains headquarters at London and Paris and before the war had a flourishing branch in Petrograd. A branch has been maintained for many years in Sydney, Australia, and the company's representatives are selling Sullivan mining machinery in Japan, India, the Federated Malay States, and South Africa.
”Sullivan machinery for excavating rock in mines, tunnels and quarries, for compressing air, for prospecting for minerals, and for mining coal is found in every part of the world where these industries are carried on. This article tells of the small, yet interesting beginnings of this New Hampshire Industry.”
(The names used for this company include: “D. A. Clay & Co.,” “Claremont Machine Works,” “J. P. Upham & Co.,” and lastly, the “Sullivan Machinery Company.”)
“Workers stand near a mule-drawn rail car loaded with cut stone at Wilson's Spur on the Colorado Midland Railway in Eagle County, Colorado. Shows an ax, a chisel, sledgehammers, and other tools. Workmen are in the distance. The Fryingpan River and a wooden bridge are nearby.
“Colorado Midland Railway Company – 1880-1900.; Eagle County (Colo.) – 1880-1900.; Fryingpan River (Colo.) – 1880-1900.; Bridges – Colorado – Eagle County – 1880-1900.; Mules – Colorado – Eagle County – 1880-1900; Quarrying--Colorado--Eagle...”
“[between 1880 and 1900?]”
“Established in 1947, Colorado Rose Red granite quarry has been owned & operated by the Liesvelds for 62 years. Having origins in Sweden as stone carvers, the Liesveld family migrated to the United States to continue the three-century tradition.
“Situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Rose Red is located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. We produce fine red granite with beautiful streams of red feldspar, black mica & white quartz. Colorado Rose Red granite is a world-class stone that will withstand the test of time & provide your project with the class & beauty only granite can provide.
“Through hard work & God’s will, we are one of the only independently owned granite quarries left in the U.S. All of our granite is produced here, not overseas….”
The “Products and Services” section includes photographs of the Colorado Rose Red Granite finishes.
Work has begun on the construction of the new Portland cement plant at Florence, Colo.
Work is progressing rapidly on the 1,000-barrel Portland cement plant being erected near Florence, Colorado. The company has just purchased two large tracts of land containing lime rock.
Colorado Alabaster Supply Quarry (Choose the “Gallery & Links” link in the menu to view photographs of finished sculptures and the quarrying of the stone.)
“Lower, John P., merchant, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 2, 1833.* After receiving an ordinary education in the public schools, Aug. 4, 1851, he engaged as salesman in the gun house of James C. Grubb & Co., in Philadelphia, and remained until Aug. 18, 1872, much of the time traveling for the firm to the principal cities of the United States. His first visit to Denver occurred in the spring of 1868, when he made the acquaintance of Carlos Gove, the leading gun dealer of Colorado. A strong friendship ensued, which was strengthened by correspondence, and Aug. 23, 1872, Mr. Lower came to Denver with his family and formed a partnership with Mr. Gove, under the firm name of Gove & Co. This continued until April, 1875, when, on the expiration of the partnership, Mr. Lower opened a store on his own account on Blake street, which became noted as a trading place of the Ute Indians, who procured there their guns, ammunition, beads and various ornaments, in exchange for buckskins, robes, etc. Later on his two boys were admitted to partnership, when the firm became John P. Lower & Sons. It was well known throughout the state. In June, 1884, after more than thirty years of close attention to business, Mr. Lower, Sr., took a trip to Europe, being absent five months. Returning to Colorado in Feb., 1885, for the benefit of his wife’s health, he took her to Florida, Cuba and the Bermudas. Subsequently he became interested in developing the redstone deposits, near Fort Collins, and, in connection with George F. Wilson, organized the Fort Collins Redstone Company, of which he was president, and Mr. Wilson, secretary and general manager. They furnished the stone for the Essex building, the Mining Exchange and the county jail, in Denver, and were the first to send a trainload to New Orleans and thence to New York by steamer. It reached New York May 1, 1888, where it was used in connection with an additional trainload of the same sent overland, via Chicago, in a building at 9 East Seventy-first street. While attending his wife at Asbury Park, N.J., his partner bankrupted the company and left the state, leaving Mr. Lower to meet its obligations alone. The gun business descending to his sons is still carried on successfully. Mrs. Lower died of cancer, May 1, 1888, at Asbury Park.”
(* A researcher of the Fort Collins Redstone Company wrote that the date of birth for John P. Lower given in this biography is not correct.)
Dave Lanara’s article provides a an extensive, detailed account of John P. Lower’s life and businesses, including his partnership in the Fort Collins Redstone Company (which operated a sandstone quarry near Fort Collins) with George F. Wilson at the link above. According to Dave Lanara’s article: “Most of the oldest buildings in Denver that still survive were built using stone from his Fort Collins Redstone Company.”
According to this article, “The Fort Collins Redstone Company donated a red sandstone cornerstone from their local quarries for the (county courthouse) building.”
|“Cross-bedding in sandstone at quarry of Henry Frey. Larimer County, Fort Collins, Colorado, No. date; USGS Photographic Library ID. Burchard, E. F. 0665bef00665”|
|"Just west of Garfield, Colorado this limestone quarry still produces 500,000 tons of limestone a year. Colorado Fuel and Iron Corp. purchased this small quarry in 1931 and uses the limestone as a fluxing agent. Elevation is 10 to 11 thousand feet. Tours usually given during summer. Presented by Salida Museum Assoc." (postcard photograph, 12919-D; published and photograph by Collegiate Photography Ltd., Salida, Colorado 81201; made by Dexter Press, West Nyack, New York; unmailed)|
“A Gilroy, Colo., paper states that a Mr. Martin is to open a marble yard there ‘as a further inducement to old residents to remain with their remains.’ This is enterprise!”
Historical Note (from the web site)
“The Aberdeen Quarry is located six miles west of Gunnison on South Beaver Creek. It was in full operation from August 1, 1889 until April of 1892. A special type of granite was quarried from Aberdeen, know for its unique hardness and smooth features. F. G. Zugelder took the first sample of granite in the spring of 1888 and, along with L. F. Zugelder, W. R. Walter, and T. U. Walter, set the location for the quarry in April 16, 1889. In early February of 1889 William Geddes, future contractor in operation of the quarry, visited the potential site….”
“The operations of the quarry were underway by the beginning of August and the quarry was named Aberdeen after another quarry in Scotland. The first load of granite was shipped to Denver on August 14….”
“Although demands were met, Aberdeen did not last much longer and really only survived to finish supplying granite for the capitol building. The number of employees was up to about sixty by December 1891 but began to fall from there. April 1, 1892 was the last meeting of Branch no. 46 of the Q.N.U. Only seventeen employees remained by this time and even fewer would endure through the end of the capitol project in June. 10 The quarry was open on a limited basis for some time after this….”
|“Timpas limestone in quarry southeast of La Junta shows thickness of beds and intercalations of shale. Otero County, Colorado. 1904. Plate 12-B in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 52. 1906. USGS Photographic Library ID. Darton, N.H. 1065 dnh01065”|
Blue Mountain Stone, Inc, has been in the business of quarrying and shipping Colorado sandstone since 1977; and the company owns and operates their own quarries. The company also operates quarries in New Mexico.
(The following is taken from Prairie, Peak and Plateau: A Guide to the Geology of Colorado, Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin 32, by John and Halka Chronic, 1972, pg. 99. If you wish a copy, write to the Colorado Geological Survey, 1845 Sherman Street, Denver, Colorado 80203. Used with the permission of the Colorado Geological Survey.)
"The Lyons area, north of Boulder, provides pink, hard, even-grained sandstone which splits readily into slabs or flagstones. These are used in the Denver-Boulder area for sidewalks and patios as well as for facing buildings. Quarries owned by the University of Colorado provide a constant supply of handsome facing material and flagstone for new university buildings, although in recent years the high cost of stone construction has limited its use on the campus."
"The Lyons Sandstone was deposited as beach and bar sand along the edge of a sea which lay east of the Front Range in Permian time. After deposition, the sand was deeply buried and compacted. Now tilted up along the Front Range uplift, it comes to the surface along the east side of the range. Only between Fort Collins and Boulder does the stone have the desirable combination of hardness, thin-bededness, and color which makes it desirable for ornamental use. The pink color of the Lyons Sandstone is derived from iron oxides, mostly hematite, disseminated between the sand grains. Dendrites (often erroneously called fossil ferns or plants) ornament some slabs; they were formed by crystallization of manganese dioxide from groundwater as it slowly percolated through the rock."
|This photograph is taken from Prairie, Peak and Plateau: A Guide to the Geology of Colorado, Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin 32, by John and Halka Chronic, 1972, pg. 100. Used with the permission of the Colorado Geological Survey.)|
The caption reads as follows:
"Lyons Sandstone is quarried near Lyons, Colorado. The salmon-colored sandstone splits along surfaces defined by slight differences in size and arrangement of the sand grains."
(The link from which the following information was obtained is no longer available.
Lyons has fifteen sandstone structures which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These were all constructed of native stone by master craftsmen between the early 1870s and 1917. They include commercial, residential and public buildings. There are still quarries operating today that provide beautiful sandstone and other products to the surrounding cities and around the country. This site includes a list of present-day quarry-related businesses.
"Editor's note: Kenneth Jessen provides some background on stone quarries in Larimer County to add to readers' perspective on events surrounding recent and controversial quarries
"At one time, a vast stone industry existed along the foothills between Lyons and Fort Collins. One of the most active quarries was located seven miles west of Loveland on the ridge that parallels the Masonville Road. These were known as the Buckhorn or Arkins quarries and were developed in 1886 by the Union Pacific Railroad in an effort to increase its freight business. At the time, only a few ranches occupied this valley.
"The railroad needed a large order to get the quarries off to a good start. One potential customer was Kansas City, and samples of stone were shown to town officials. A contract was signed to supply all of the paving stone and curbing for the entire city. This single order amounted to 2,500 carloads of stone.
"The Union Pacific, however, had put the cart before the horse. At the time the contract was signed, there wasn't any rail service from Loveland out to the quarries. Work began on the railroad in early 1887, and at the same time, the UP sent men to the quarries to begin extracting stone and filling the Kansas City order.
"The number of men working at the quarry soon exceeded 100, and a post office was established that year at the base of the ridge at a place named Arkins. The Union Pacific also constructed a large frame boarding house, complete with a kitchen and dining hall. The kitchen had a spacious brick oven able to bake 70 loaves at a time. The dining hall could seat 280 men and as the number of quarry workers reached that number, six cooks were kept busy full time.
"There were bunkhouses for the workers, but supervisors lived in a separate bunkhouse connected to the boardinghouse by a covered passageway. A company store was added to one end of the kitchen. It carried overalls, hats, shoes, groceries and a few patent medicines. A second store, known as the Charles & Smith, soon opened at Arkins.
"Building the rail line west of Loveland to serve the quarries was relatively easy. The railroad ran west out of Loveland, past the south end of the Devil's Backbone, then angled northwest crossing the present-day Masonville Road. The railroad climbed up the ridge and after a mile, reached the halfway point. A switchback was used to reverse direction and gain the remainder of the distance to the quarries near the top of the ridge. By using this zigzag technique, the railroad maintained a reasonable grade. The old railroad grade can still be seen stretching across the hillside, and the stone abutments for both the upper and lower trestles across a small ravine are quite evident.
"The railroad made its first shipment of 11 cars of stone to Kansas City on April 7, 1887. Business picked up to 15 cars of stone per day. The Loveland depot agent soon reported that overall business had doubled both in passengers and freight service over the previous year.
"There were a number of different types of stone shipped from the Buckhorn quarries. Paving stone, flagging and curbing for streets and sidewalks were the primary products, while large foundation stones, weighing many tons, were also shipped.
"Each aspect of removing stone and shaping it was specialized. Some men worked at drilling and used wedges to break large slabs of stone free from the quarry face. At the bottom of the face, other quarry workers used wheelbarrows to carry the smaller pieces of stone across the tracks to the block cutters. Other quarry workers operated the numerous pole derricks used to lift large foundation stones onto the railroad cars.
"Some 45 skilled block cutters were brought in from Missouri. Most were Swedes and were highly skilled at their trade. A block cutter used a set of three hammers, all stored within easy reach with the heads down. The first step was to score the stone with one of the hammers then flip it over and tap it with a sledgehammer. If done correctly, the slab would break along the score. The third hammer was used to even up the edges. The finished stone was stacked neatly along the railroad track for shipment.
"Back in the 1880s, the brake systems on the railroad cars were crude and the quarries were plagued with a constant series of accidents. One of the worst accidents occurred in June 1887 at the upper quarry. Three fully loaded cars began to slip down the hill towards the switch. A worker jumped on one of the cars and began cranking on the brakes. They were defective and when the worker tried the brakes on the next car, they too were defective. The worker jumped as the cars began to pick up speed. At the bottom of the upper grade near the switch, the speeding cars struck another loaded car and wrecked it where it stood. The cars went through the switch, off the end of the track, and were totally demolished.
"The contract for Kansas City was filled in March 1888. The four quarry openings used to fill this order were abandoned and the men laid off. By May 1889, a stone crusher was installed, and the quarries were back to capacity shipping a dozen cars a day. Employment returned to 100 men.
"In 1904, stone from the Buckhorn quarries was selected for the new Denver Mint along with Tennessee and Vermont marble. Many other important structures in Denver, including the entrance to City Park, the Tabor Grand Opera House and even the State Capitol, were built from Buckhorn stone.
"The use of concrete as a structural material replaced stone foundations during the 1920s. Asphalt began to erode the paving stone business, and the industry dwindled to the supply of ornamental stone and flagging.
"The Arkins post office closed in 1906, and in 1926, a flood damaged the trestle of the Buckhorn Creek. At this time, 2.3 miles of track was removed and in 1937, another section of track was taken up. In 1965, a heavy rainstorm damaged beyond economical repair the plaster mill at the south end of the Devil's Backbone. The Buckhorn Branch was further reduced in length to Loveland.
"Today (Sept. 2001), the Arkins quarry remains in operation, but not on such a grand scale.
"For more information about Arkins, refer to Kenneth Jessen's 'Railroads of Northern Colorado'and Ansel Watrous' 'History of Larimer County, Colorado.'"
|“Lyons sandstone at Lyons; the eastward sloping upper surface appears at the sky line and the westward sloping faces of the laminae exposed in the quarry appear in the foreground. Boulder County, Colorado. 1922. Plate 17-B in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 149. 1927. USGS Photographic Library ID. Lee, W.T. 1771 lwt01771”|