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The Vermont 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 SurveyGovernment PrintingOffice, Washington, D. C., 1886.

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."

Production of Slate:

"Slate deposits are known to exist from Maine to Michigan and from the Saint Lawrence to the Gulf States, but actual development is confined to comparatively few localities. Maine, Vermont, and New York produce moderate quantities, and small beds of very good slate are worked in Michigan and Virginia, but the great bulk of the total product of the United States comes from the immense quarries situated in Lehigh and Northampton counties, Pennsylvania. In the latter section over three thousand men were employed in 1885, mostly of Welsh and English nativity, and the result of their labor was a liberal increase in the product. The bulk of the manufacture is in the form of roofing slate, which is distributed over the entire country, and a fair proportion finds a foreign outlet. Various sizes are made, to meet architectural designs and other requirements of the trade. They are sold in 'squares.' A 'square' is 100 square feet, weighs 600 pounds, and covers the same area as 1,000 shingles. The cost, delivered from the quarry, ready for shipment, in 1885, was $2.50 to $3.75 per square, against $3.50 to $4 per square in 1884. The scale of wages paid at quarries, in 1885, was as follows: Splitters, 18 to 20 cents per hour; blockmakers, 15 to 18 cents per hour; laborers, 10 to 13 cents per hour."

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