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The Alabama Stone Industry

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  • Alabama Marble - (Geobop's GeoSymbols) Since 1840 marble has been quarried in Alabama. One quarry, famous for its high quality, has a depth at least 200 feet thick and is located near Sylacauga. Alabama marble has been used in the construction and decoration of buildings throughout the United States. (The section from which this information was obtained at the url below is no longer available.)
  • Alabama Marble as A Statuary Marble (circa 1916) (excerpt from Preliminary Report on The Crystalline and Other Marbles of Alabama, Bulletin 18, by William F. Prouty, Geological Survey of Alabama, 1916, pp. 110)

    “Mr. G. Moretti, the well-known sculptor, who has used the Alabama marble extensively in his art, has the following to say concerning it:

    “‘The color of the white marble of Alabama is brilliant and full of life with a creamy tone that gives a lustrous transparency, making our marble far more beautiful than the Italian. The Alabama marble has a uniformity of texture most satisfactory and pleasing for sculpture.

    “‘The location of the marble region and the ease with which the marble can be quarried, together with the vast amount of the deposit will make it possible to sell the second and third grades for building and architecture at a price easily and successfully competing with foreign marbles and we will be able to sell our finest white marble for prices reasonable enough to make it possible for artists to execute their work in the material that gives to them their greatest beauty.

    “‘I read in the International Studio remarks about a very beautiful Greek head recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum. I have examined the head and many Greek works and I feel sure the beauty of the antique marble is not so greatly due to the aging of the marble as is usually supposed. I think the Greek marble was originally a cream color and that the artists of the time were greatly inspired by the beauty of their material. I have so often met with the objection from many people loving art who say, ‘Oh, but the marble is so cold, now if it only was warm and rich looking like the antique.’ But the Alabama marble is just that, it was warm and lustrous and its creamy transparency makes it marvelously life-like.

    “‘Architects who have been fortunate enough to know the Alabama marble are already demanding it and the marble is destined to be preferred on its own merits.’”

  • Alabama Marble - General Notes on the Manufacture of Alabama Marble, Cost Keeping, Etc. (circa 1916), by Major Jno. S. Sewell (excerpt from Preliminary Report on The Crystalline and Other Marbles of Alabama, Bulletin 18,” by William F. Prouty, Geological Survey of Alabama, 1916, pp. 113-117.) (The following sections will not be included at this time: Unsoundness, Stratification, Quarry Methods, and Economic Considerations. If you need the excluded material, feel free to contact me. Peggy B. Perazzo.)


    “Because of the peculiar structure of Alabama marble, and the fact that many of the layers are not of very great thickness, by far the greater portion of it has to be sawed practically parallel with the beds. There are white marbles which can be sawed in any direction with equally good results, but this is not true of Alabama marble. Where it is used in heavy pieces, showing ‘returns,’ this involves especial consideration and selection of stock, which must always be carefully attended to.

    “The marble saws with about the same faculty as Italian marbles, and experience so far indicates that the best abrasive is sand. While it can be sawed more rapidly with crushed steel or shot, as the marble finds its principal use in interior work, the presence of shot and crushed steel in it is objectionable for reasons well known to every marble manufacturer. For the benefit of the layman, it may be explained that a slab with a little bit of shot or steel adhering to it, going through subsequent processes, is almost sure to be badly scratched at a later stage when it is otherwise almost finished. This necessitates re-finishing and a reduction in thickness, which often disqualifies the slab and causes its rejection.


    “Nothing very unusual is required in handling Alabama marble except a perfect familiarity with the stone and an instinctive knowledge of how to use it so as to produce a satisfactorily uniform effect, notwithstanding the somewhat erratic distribution of the clouding and veining. In the various finishing processes, cutting and turning are the only ones that present special difficulties, and these difficulties are practically eliminated by the use of carborundum, instead of steel tools. Owing to the greater hardness of the marble, it probably costs somewhat more to cut it, even with carborundum, but the marble itself has a margin of superiority over most of its competitors which enables it to bring, on the whole, a little higher price, which in general, should be sufficient to offset the increased cost of working....”

  • The Alabama “Marble Industry,” presented on by Michael Kief Law, Auburn University, the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  • Alabama Rock - Marble (and quarries). This site is presented by Alabama Department of Archives and History. The history provided on this site is from “Acts of Alabama,” September 12, 1969. Geological Survey of Alabama.

    Talladega County is the major source of marble in Alabama. It occurs from the Coosa River to southeast Talladega in a narrow outcrop belt, which is referred to as the Sylacauga marble belt. Marble can also be found in the following Alabama counties: Talladega, Bibb, Calhoun, Clay, Coosa, Etowah, Lee, Macon, St. Clair, and Shelby. Marble can be found in many colors including white, pink, gray, red, or black in color.

  • Alabama Marble called the whitest in the world,” presented in The Decatur Daily - Online edition, Sunday, February 6, 2005. (The link to this online article is no longer available.  If you are interested in reading it, you could try contacting the Decatur Daily - Online.)
    <http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/050206/marble.shtml> http://www.decaturdaily.com/>
  • The Alabama Marble Industry History presented in the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  • Alabama’s Official Rock (The quotation below is from the following publication and is used with the permission of the Alabama Geological Survey: State of Alabama, 1969, An Act to designate marble as the official rock of the State of Alabama, [Act. No. 755] (in) Alabama Laws of the Legislature of Alabama, vol. 2; Montgomery, Ala., p. 1334-1335. Alabama Geological Survey Information Series 64, "Minerals in Alabama,1998-99" edited by L. S. Dean (2000) [or any of the previous editions, 1986 to 1997].)

    “Marble is a metamorphic rock consisting of fine- to coarsegrained recrystallized calcite (limestone) or dolomite. Marble may be white, pink, gray, red, or black in color, depending on the impurities in the original limestone or dolomite. In Alabama the major source of marble is in Talladega County, where it occurs in a narrow outcrop belt from the Coosa River to southeast of Talladega. This area is known as the Sylacauga marble belt. Marble in the Sylacauga area is known for its high-grade crystalline texture, whiteness, and beauty. Marble from Sylacauga has been quarried, cut, and polished for over 160 years for use as monument stone and building stone throughout the state and the country. The state's marble has been used in buildings all over the United States. Sylacauga marble has also been used in numerous works of fine art. Sylacauga marble is now marketed primarily as a filler, agricultural soil conditioner, and micronized marble, which is shipped as a slurry for use in paper pigment and coating. Crushed marble also is used for textiles, paints, electrical insulation, and plastics. Since 1900 approximately 30 million tons of marble have been quarried in Sylacauga. Marble is plentiful in the Alabama counties of Talladega, Bibb, Calhoun, Clay, Coosa, Etowah, Lee, Macon, St. Clair, and Shelby. One site in Talladega County is 200 feet thick. Marble became the state rock after the legislature passed Act No. 755 in 1969.”

  • Appalachian Region Mineral Resources – Excerpts From Mineral Resources of the Appalachian Region A compilation of information on the mineral resources, mineral industry, and geology of the Appalachian Region, Geological Survey Professional Paper 580, U. S. Geological Survey and the U. S. Bureau of Mines United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1968. (“The Appalachian Region, also called Appalachia, extends from southern New York to northern Alabama and Georgia; it includes all of West Virginia and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, an area of 185,000 square miles having a population of 17.3 million.”)
  • Dimension Stone in Alabama - Marble and Limestone Quarries. One of the major white marble producers in the past was in the Sylacauga marble belt in Alabama. The main producers switched to using the marble for industrial fillers. About 1994, there were some attempts to open new quarries in the district, but the stone was not ready for market yet. In the northwestern portion of Alabama, a limestone is quarried that is similar to the Bedford Limestone and Indiana Limestone quarried in Indiana. (From Industrial Minerals and Rocks, senior editor, Donald D. Carr; associate editors, A. Frank Alsobrook, (et al.) 6th ed., Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Littleton, Colorado, published by SME, 1994, pgs. 25, 27.)
  • DiscoverySchool.com (Worldbook) - Minerals and Mining. Crushed stone and limestone are two of Alabama's most valuable mined products. There are large limestone quarries near Birmingham and Huntsville. Alabama leads many states in mining marble. (This material is no longer available on the DiscoverySchool.com web site.)
  • Dolomite, Alabama (Limestone Quarry north of Bessemer) from the History of Bessemer, "...the company opened a new limestone quarry at Dolomite to the north of the city of Bessemer." (This link is no longer available.)
  • Stone Workers' Wages circa December 1895 (From Stone: An Illustrated Magazine, Vol. XII, No. 1, December, 1895, "Notes From Quarry and Shop" section, Stone Publishing Co., New York, pp. 76.)

    "Our attention has been called to a custom and practice among certain individuals and corporations engaged in the quarrying and mining business which, to our minds, calls for the severest condemnation, and should be a ringing appeal to the legislature for relief, says the Birmingham, Ala., News. 'It appears that certain mine and quarry operators deduct or detain out of the monthly wages of their employees every month 50 cents if a single man and $1 if a married man, for house rent, 50 cents or $1, as the case may be, for insurance, and like amounts for a physician and a school teacher. It also appears that the house-rent money is deducted and held back, whether the employe (sic) lives on the operator's property or not. If he owns the house in which he lives, or if he rents it from some one else, still he must pay the operator his monthly house rent. This seems to us to be extortion, pure and simple. In some instances the physician's or school teacher's fund each aggregate $600 or $800 a month. The operator employs a regular physician for $125 or $150 a month, and a school teacher for alike amount. We are not informed what disposition the operator makes of the funds, but we have no reason to believe that it is donated to any charitable cause. These are such gross outrages and impositions on the laboring man that we believe the legislature should in some way correct and remedy the evil.'"

  • Sylacauga marble,” presented on Wikipedia.

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