Logo Picture Left SideLogo Picture Right SideLogo Text at Center
Home > Search > Site Map > Indiana > The Indiana Stone and Building Industry, 1886

The Indiana 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) 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."

In New York City, New York: 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."

For foundations of buildings (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Conshohocken limestone is a common use; for superstructures brick is of course the standard material. Among the stones most abundantly used for superstructures and in combination with brick for ornamental purposes may be mentioned, brown sandstone from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, and from various quarries in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ohio. Indiana limestone is quite extensively used. Ohio limestone is also used, but to a less extent; granite from Quincy and Cape Ann is frequently employed."

The building stones most used (in Atlanta, Georgia) 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."

Among the various kinds of stone used in Louisville (Kentucky) may be mentioned the following: Oolitic limestone from Bedford, Indiana, also from Salem and Bowling Green, Kentucky. Buena Vista, Ohio, Lake Superior, and Long Meadow sandstones are used to a limited degree."

For all ordinary works in this city (Cincinnati, Ohio) the local limestone is used. For ornamental purposes Buena Vista, Berea, Amherst, and Cleveland sandstones are liberally employed; also Dayton, Ohio, and Bedford, Indiana, limestone. Granite, chiefly from Maine and Missouri, is used to some extent."

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."

Very few strikes on the part of workmen in the quarries of important districts have been reported as occurring during 1886, but a number of the largest quarry regions of Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin experienced considerable loss in trade owing to the strikes in Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Milwaukee."

Limestone and Marble: The limestones of Indiana are becoming yearly more and more popular, particularly the oolitic stone of the sub-Carboniferous age. Statistics from this State are too meager to admit of a reliable estimate of production, but it is certain that large quantities are shipped out of the State to many of the larger cities, both east and west, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia being among the most important markets."

The limestone of Joliet (Illinois) quarry region has until the last year been recognized as being in general unfit for use as a flux in blast furnaces. The discovery in this region, during 1886, of a bed of quite pure limestone, well suited for use as a flux, is therefore of particular interest. The location of this newly discovered bed is at Gravel Bank about 10 miles below Joliet.The use of this stone as a flux in this region is said to be interfering decidedly with the shipment of limestone to this locality from Indiana."

Novaculite - 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."

Indiana: About forty-five years ago a bluish white whetstone, which now bears the name, 'Hindostan,' was first placed on the market. It came from a town of the same name in Martin county, Indiana. The town, which was situated near the White river, has since passed out of existence. A stone similar in structure to the Hindostan, but differing in color and hardness, is also to be found in Indiana. It is called 'Orange stone;' it is of a light buff shade. The fact that it bears the name of the county in which it occurs most abundantly may account for its title. At present nearly all the Hindostan and Orange whetstones come from Orange county. Quarries are to be found at French Lick Mineral Springs, between 2 and 3 miles from West Baden, in French Lick township, and in Northwest township, about 8 miles from the French Lick quarries. Both these varieties of whetstones are in places found in the same quarry, but occur in different ledges. The rock is decidedly stratified and splits with great readiness into large sheets.

At times the whole ledge, from 10 to 20 inches in thickness, is raised by means of steel bars and wedges. More frequently sheets from 5 to 6 inches in thickness are cleared off. These sheets are again split to the desired thickness. Some pieces of rock can readily be severed into layers not having a thickness of over inch. After the stone has been brought to the proper thickness it is marked off into pieces of the requisite length and width my means of a straight edge and scribing awl. The stone is so soft that the awl will penetrate it sufficiently of it to be readily broken. The stone is now worth one-half of its price when finished. Finishing on iron wheels with sand, and boxing complete the cost of manufacture. Between the ledges of good stone is generally found from 6 to 10 inches of soft shale. The whetstone varies in hardness. That at the surface is usually much softer than the rock underneath. The harder variety makes the best stone for use. At fissures in the rock is found what the quarrymen call ironstone. This contains, as its name indicates, a large quantity of iron, sometimes in the form of limonite, but more frequently as brown hematite. The presence of the iron ore prevents the rock from crumbling as readily as it does in the ordinary Hindostan and Orange stones, and hence makes a very fair finishing stone. It is, however, apt to become glazed after some use.

In French Lick township, about 7 miles south of the Hindostan and Orange quarries, are found sandstones which are quarried for dry whetstones. These stones are sold principally to shoemakers.

During the year 1886 about 400,000 pounds of Hindostan and Orange stones were quarried. The prices for the Hindostan stones, according to J. A. Chaillaux, of Orangeville, and William F. Osborn and T. N. Braxton & Sons, of Paoli, Indiana, are as follows:

Prices for Hindostan oil and water stones

Prices for Hindostan oil and water stones.

About the same amount (400,000 pounds) of the sandstones as of the Hindostan and Orange was placed on the market during 1886. Nearly one-quarter of this quantity went to Europe. As the cost of the preparation is not great, this stone can be sold for 4 cents a pound."

[Top of Page]