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The Georgia Stone and Building Industry, 1886

Excerpts from

Mineral Resources of the United States, Calendar Year 1886
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) Abrasive Materials, by William A. Raborg, and 3) 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."

"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."

Atlanta (Georgia): "The building stones most used are: granite taken from quarries 16 miles from the city; limestone from Indiana, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Dickson, Alabama; brown sandstone from North Carolina, and marble from the vicinity of Marietta, Georgia. Frame buildings are mostly in demand. Tile roofing is in use on but one house in the city. Georgia and Virginia slate is used to a limited extent on steep roofs. Within the past five years the use of ornamental brick and tile has been increasing."

Savannah (Georgia): "The stone now used for building purposes is chiefly Alabama limestone; Connecticut brown stone and Georgia granite have been driven out of use almost entirely.

"Small frame residences are the buildings most in demand. Tin is almost exclusively used for roofing; no slate is employed. Very little ornamental material is in use."

"For foundations and ordinary work (in Chicago, Illinois) Joliet and Lemont, Illinois, limestone is used; for ornamental work the following are used: Brown sandstone from Connecticut; red sandstone from Long Meadow, Massachusetts, sandstones of all kinds from different sources in Ohio, the Lake Superior region, and, to a less degree and quite recently, from Colorado. Bedford, Indiana, limestone is quite popular. Georgia marble is being introduced with great satisfaction, particularly the pinkish-gray variety. Granite from Maine, Missouri, and Minnesota is largely used."

New discoveries and developments: "The Southern Granite Company, of Atlanta, Georgia, has recently made preparations for increased production of granite from its quarries on Stone mountain, near the city, by exploding large quantities of giant powder, with which three shafts of a depth of 60 to 65 feet were charged. One of these shafts was charged with 2,000, the second with 5,000, and the third with 8,000 pounds of the explosive."

"The marble quarries of Georgia yielded an output of 100,000 cubic feet, valued at $100,000. The total value of marble produced in the United States during 1886 is probably very nearly $2,400,000."

New Discoveries and developments of marble quarries: "The active quarrying of marble in Georgia was commenced only within the last few years, the census report making no mention of any limestone production whatever in this State during 1880.

"The Georgian Marble Company, of Atlanta, is operating extensive marble quarries near Tate Station, Pickens County, Georgia. The deposit is of great thickness, very free from joints, and of uniform quality. The marble consists chiefly of the following descriptions: The most of it is white, with a few gray streaks. Light gray and white mottled, dark gray and white mottled, and flesh color with occasional greenish streaks, are also found. Diamond drills and channelers are in use, and the quarries are supplied throughout with the best machinery for quarrying and handling the product.

"Considering the recent appearance of the Georgia marble upon the market, the demand for it is exceedingly good and is quite rapidly increasing, particularly in Chicago, Cincinnati, and other western cities. It is not so well known in the East, although used in New York and Philadelphia to some extent. The coarsely crystalline character of this marble is somewhat against it for the finest kinds of decoration, but its attractive colors will secure for it an increasing popularity."

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