Saturday, August 13, 2011
Mining and memorials
One of the reasons we stopped in this area was to visit the Rock of Ages granite quarry. This quarry is the largest granite quarry in the United States. It is also world renown for the high quality of the granite. The current open pit was started in the 1800’s and now over three hundred feet deep. The granite formation is this area can only be described as enormous. It runs for miles under the mountains and scientists estimate that the granite runs ten miles deep. Over the years improved mining techniques have improved and the amount of waste great reduced. At the current rate of mining, there is estimated to be enough granite here to last another 4,500 years!
The gray granite taken from this mining operation is among the finest gray granite in the world and comes with a perpetual guarantee. When the mining began a large number of European artisans, in particular, many Italians came to Vermont to work in the quarry and produce the elaborate headstones and other memorials that have made the company famous. A memorial made from this granite is superior in quality and expected to last essentially forever.
Secondly, I wanted to see this particular quarry, as many of the military headstones for service members are made from stone from this quarry. The actual markers are finished by a contract company here in Barre.
Another must see place in Barre, VT is the Hope Cemetery. Here these artisans had the opportunity to leave long lasting monuments to their art in family markers and more elaborate structures. Many of them actually prepared their own headstones. When you first arrive at the cemetery, you see a small sea of granite. As you walk the grounds, you begin to really appreciate the skill that goes into these monuments. What also became quickly clear was that the claims for this granite are valid. The monuments that were placed here over 100 years ago looked as good as those that were newly placed. We found it to be a very interesting place and worthy of a visit.