Rock of Ages Granite Quarry

September 2003

Founded in 1885, Rock of Ages is 50 acres, 600 feet deep and was built by native Yankees and by immigrants who came looking for a better life.


When the old timers quarried the granite back in the 1800's they used black powder instead of dynamite to separate the granite blocks and because black powder is unpredictable in how it explods there was a 95% discard of unusable granite and only 5% usable. They are now crushing these huge piles of unusable granite and spreading it on roads, in driveways and also using it for making cement. They are also quarrying more granite for headstone, signs, cutting boards, countertops, paper weights, etc., and will be able to do so for 50 more years (there's plenty!). The blocks they remove are sold all over the world. We had fun going to nearby cemetery and seeing VERY unique head stones - all dif shapes and designs (cube set on corner, 1/2 scale car, soccer ball, besides celtic crosses, vines and Virgin Marys, etc.).
The guide was a retired school teacher and was very knowledgeable about the total operation and history which made the tour great. The tour took about 45 minutes but the guide talked for the whole time, and when he came to a lapse in the information someone would ask a question and he was off again. Excellent tour.


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This was a post card in the visitor center Nancy thought was funny.

The quarry is two miles wide, 4 miles long and 10 miles deep. enough granite to quarry for 4,700 more years..

This is the crane that lifts the blocks out of the quarry. The blocks are 10 to 15 feet square and 20 - 25 feet long.

The crane also loads the blocks onto trucks to transport it to the cutting factory.

After hours the water is pumped out of the quarry and into these ponds.

This guy is drilling the holes for the dynamite. It takes four weeks to get a block of granite out of the quarry.

This is a emergency ladder has to be used if the crane can't lift the workers out of the quarry.

This ladder goes down another level into the quarry. There are ladders going all the way down to the 600 foot level.

The guy in the gray shirt gives hand signals to the crane operator.

They only have 30 minutes for lunch, then the whistle blows and its in the cage and back into the quarry.

The crane is maneuvering the cage to the parking lot.

The workers exit the cage for lunch.

This one block weights 23 tons, or 46,000 pounds.

Cranes are used to unload blocks and slabs from the trucks that bring them from the quarry.

The cutting warehouse where the blocks are cut into slabs. These diamond saw blades are 13 feet in diameter.

This is a Press Roll and is used to crush wood chips into paper. The guide said Hershey has one for making chocolate.

This is an old Press Roll. The old method of making press rolls uses wire sawing (octagonal) then rounding with a lathe.

Some granite bird houses in the visitor center.

The Rock of Ages is one of the six gray granite quarries in Barre, VT owned and operated by Rock of Ages corporation and is the largest monumental granite quarry in the world. The granite blocks recovered from our quarry operations are very dense and weigh about 170 pounds per cubic foot. Only the finest granite taken from our quarries is used for memorial purposes. Of all the granite quarried in a given year, only 15% of the granite stock meets the quarry standards necessary to be used for a Rock of Ages monument. We stopped at the factory to see how the memorials are made.

The design is transferred from paper to a rubber sheet that is adhered to the face of the granite.

A skilled worker carefully cuts along the lines of the design to produce a working stencil from the rubber.

The lettering and ornamentation are cut into the stone by sandblasting abrasive pellets under pressure from a tiny nozzle. The pellets bounce off the rubber, but chip the exposed granite.

They come out of the sandblaster and the man in the red shirt moves the memorial by a crane to the wash area.

Before washing the man in the gray shirt removes the rubber stencil.

Next he rinses them with a power washer.

The man in the blueish shirt (at the top of the picture) builds a crate and seals the memorial for shipping.

This is the picture and the paper sketch the sculptor is using as models.

Using his pneumatic tool he sculpts away. FASCINATING to watch!

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