The Vermont Stone and Building Industry in 1886
Mineral Resources of the United States, Calendar Year
David T. Day, Chief of Division of Mining Statistics and Technology
Department of the Interior, United States
Geological Survey Government Printing Office,
Washington, D. C., 1887.
Excerpts from the chapters on 1) "Structural Materials," by William C. Day; and 2) "Novaculite," by George M. Turner:
"The year 1886 opened with encouraging prospects for the building industry generally throughout the country, but scarcely were active operations fairly under way when the widely-spread labor disturbances which have made the year memorable began, making themselves felt in a number of the largest cities, both in the east and west. As soon as the labor troubles were inaugurated, many building enterprises were abandoned, and many more were postponed until the differences between labor and capital should be smoothed over. The building operations which were carried on during the period of disturbance were in most cases attended by small margins of profit to all concerned, and in some instances by disaster to contractors and to those who supplied material. Business was dull for all branches of trade connected with the building industry; demand for material was low and irregular, and values fell off quite considerably.
"This period of general depression was, however, followed by one of the greatest activity, and while it is true that many building enterprises contemplated at the beginning of the year were abandoned and not taken up again in 1886, still the fact remains that at the close of the year the showing made by the principal cities of the country was a large increase in the amount of building done, as compared with 1885.
"The kind of buildings most extensively erected during this period of activity consisted of residences, the demand for which, in view of our rapidly increasing population, is naturally at all times imperative.
"Only a few cities show positive evidence to the effect that building operations for the entire year were curtailed owing to the influence of labor troubles, although, of course, the frequently-propounded question, "What would have been the amount and value of building done in 1886 had there been no serious interruption?" is one which no one can satisfactorily answer."
"Stone for foundations is quarried within the city limits (of Burlington, Vermont). Buildings of the better class of brick, trimmed with brown stone. During the past year dwellings of an average cost of $3,000 formed the class most largely constructed.
"Slate, on account of its cheapness, is the roofing material commonly used even on unpretentious structures; demand for it is increasing (in Burlington, Vermont). For flat roofs tin is employed; roofing tiles are not known. The use of ornamental brick is not increasing, stone trimmings being preferred in the best buildings."
"Dwelling houses (in Bridgeport, Connecticut) were in greatest demand during 1886, although some factories were erected. Slate is the favorite roofing material for large buildings, and the demand for it is always good, although it cannot be said to increase rapidly; that from Bangor, Pennsylvania, seems to be preferred, although some from Vermont is also used."
(In New York City) "The study for strong and effective contrasts indulged in for some ten years past has resulted in the introduction of a considerable variety of stones, chiefly quarried in the South and West. Among these may be mentioned the oolitic limestone from Bedford, Indiana, as well as from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. Marble from Vermont and Georgia is used to a liberal extent."
"Production of marble: As has already been indicated the marble industry as a whole is in a thrifty condition. Although the labor troubles of the year have had their depressing effect upon this as well as upon other quarrying industries, still the effect has been far less marked and, as will be shown later in detail, a number of new and important discoveries and developments have been made.
"The value of the marble produced in Vermont during 1886 is estimated at $1,500,000. Accurate returns from Tennessee give 269,486 as the number of cubic feet of all kinds of marble shipped from the State during 1886. This is valued at $1.50 per cubic foot, giving $404,229 as the total value of the year's production."
"Some of the Colorado marbles are said to be fully equal in quality to those of Vermont and Tennessee. Inasmuch as investigations thus far have been of a preliminary character, definite statements in regard to both quality and quantity must be left for a future report."
"Novaculite: According to its present use, the term novaculite is applied to a class of siliceous rocks valuable as whetstones because of their grit or sharpening abilities. This peculiar sharpening quality is due in some cases to crystalline silica; in others, according to a German writer, to minute crystals of garnet or rutile. In order that a whetstone may be efficient, it should combine with the hardness of its particles the property of not glazing. Stones having these two properties in the highest degree serve best the purpose of a whetstone."
"Occurrence: Quarries of Novaculite are at present worked in Hot Springs and Garland counties, Arkansas; in Orleans and Orange counties, Vermont; in Grafton county, New Hampshire; in Onandaga county, New York, and in Orange county, Indiana."
"Vermont: Just over the State line from Grafton county, New Hampshire, into Orleans county, Vermont, is found the so-called Lamoille stone. This schist is quite similar to the forms found in New Hampshire. It has about the same relation to the chocolate that the White Mountain bears to the Indian Pond. This stone is not as finely grained as the chocolate, but it is more massive and resembles it in color.
"All the principal quarries from which these four varieties come are controlled by the A. F. Pike Manufacturing Company, of Pike Station, New Hampshire. Their estimates and prices are given below.
"The chocolate and White Mountain stones find their market principally in this country. In 1886 about 80,000 pounds of the chocolate and 40,000 pounds of the White Mountain rock were taken from the quarries.
"During the year 1886 between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 pounds of rough Indian Pond stone were taken from the quarries. Nearly all this stone was made up into scythe stones according to the following prices:
"The Lamoille is also cut chiefly into scythe stones which sell for about $5.50 per gross."