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The Indiana 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 Survey
Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1887.


Excerpts from the chapters on 1) "Structural Materials," by H. S. Sproull; and 2) "Abrasive Materials:"

"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."


Occurrence (of novaculite):

"The principal source of the novaculite produced in this country at present, is the region embraced by Hot Spring and Garland counties, Arkansas. It is also quarried in Grafton county, New Hampshire, and in Orange county, Indiana. Quarries are reported in Onondaga county, New York, but no reliable information concerning them has been obtained."

Novaculite in Indiana:

"Owing to the reticence of the firms with whom correspondence was undertaken concerning the so-called "Hindostan" stone of Indiana, no reliable statements could be obtained from them. The only information upon which dependence can be placed is the account given of this whetstone in the Geological Report of Indiana for 1875, by E. T. Cox, the State geologist. The quarries are located near French Lick, Orange county. The rock is described as being of schistose structure, evenly stratified, and capable of being split with great ease. A large number of fossils of great beauty and size have been found in this rock; among them are beautifully preserved leaves and what appear to be crustacean tracks. There are also some fine dendrites. The stone quarried is of even texture and fine grained. The two forms under which it is placed on the market are the "Hindostan," which is white in color, and a buff variety known as the "Orange" stone. The novaculite of this locality, as determined by the fossils in the rocks, is said to be of the same geological horizon as the novaculite of Arkansas."

Production and prices:

"About 500,000 pounds of the "Washita" and 30,000 pounds of the "Arkansas" stone in the rough are quarried and sold annually. The sound Washita is shaped into blocks of from 100 to 2,500 pounds, and shipped to the various whetstone factories throughout the country. The "Arkansas" stone is found in small pieces-sometimes as small as 2 pounds-and is packed in barrels for shipment. The stones are cut by means of saws. This method of preparing the stone for market is very slow, and hence the cost of the finished stone becomes greatly increased over that of the uncut. A gang of saws which will cut from 12 to 15 inches a day in marble will cut only about 4 inches in Washita and three-quarters of an inch of "Arkansas" stone. The rough Washita sells at the quarry at from 1 to 3 cents per pound, and the uncut "Arkansas" from 4 to 6 cents per pound.."

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