In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Mount Desert Island: Shaped by Nature

Maine Granite Industry-Hall Quarry

This slideshow contains 21 items
1
Granite quarry, Hancock County

Granite quarry, Hancock County

Item 14053 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

"An important element of Maine's native weath is to be found
in her quarries. Granite abounds in many parts of the interior
and conspicuously so along the coast. A leading center of the
industry is among the islands..." So stated the Bureau of
Industrial and Labor statistics in their annual report of 1895.
By 1902, Maine ranked first in granite produced in the United
States. Contributing to that boom were the quarries of Mount
Desert Island. Indeed, one of its villages was founded and
existed to supply the nation with its distinctive pink stone used
in monumental, building and paving. That commnunity, now
called Hall Quarry, reflects not only the growth of that industry
but characterizes the historical trends of that time. From
immigration to labor disputes, from tycoons to industrial innovation,
Hall Quarry was a microcosm of national trends. Yet, at the
same time, Hall Quarry was, indeed, a small town on the coast
of Maine, with all the quirks and character that such towns engender.
This is the story of the people, events and technologies of
that town and their time.


2
Cyrus James Hall, Mount Desert, 1890

Cyrus James Hall, Mount Desert, 1890

Item 19449 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Cyrus James Hall was born in Belfast, Maine in 1834. Hall was a tall slender man. He was considered a proper, well educated family man. Hall relocated when he was a young man on the west shores of Somes Sound. It wasn't very long before he discovered that the granite there was one of the best in the United States. He began his Standard Granite Company in 1870 in Otter Creek and later moved to the shores of Somes Sound. Hall began with less than a dozen men but quickly grew. He would work with his men into the late hours and teach them the techniques. If there was a tool that was needed, he would invent one then have it made, and teach the workers how it was used.


3
Granite Sample

Granite Sample

Item 19462 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

To gather the contracts for the Quarries, the owners would usually have to go around and bid on them themselves. Hall traveled widely to earn contracts with samples like this one.


4
Schooner Loading Granite at Hall Quarry, ca. 1900

Schooner Loading Granite at Hall Quarry, ca. 1900

Item 19471 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Somes Sound was wide and deep enough to accommodate two, three and even four masted ships and would give them a handy port from which they could sail to nearly any location on the east coast. The hard workers didn't always use machinery. Before the invention of cranes and derricks, men would work in human conveyer belts loading the paving stones into vessels by hand! Some of the granite blocks that they carried on these schooners weighed 5 to 8 tons and to get an idea of how much that is 2000 pounds is a ton and 8 tons is 16,000 pounds! Later on, after a few years, the ships would come into Somes Sound and wait for its granite load, which was loaded now by cranes that were operated by donkey engines They'd use the engines to lift the stone onto the waiting vessels. An interesting story related by Susan O'Neil from James Grant was about the sinking of the Dephini. "It was Sunday morning, this three masted ships loaded with pavin' and this other one ( The Delphini), landed with pavin' or maybe cut stone, was there...Saturday have the loading complete. An Mr. Maycomber left here just as soon as it was loaded, he went right to Ellsworth to have it insured. And the next morning the vessel left an' went down to the narrows and struck the ice dash run into this big ice cake-thats the spring of the year, ya know, the Sound had been frozen and it came down alongst here."


5
Ship at Crotch Island

Ship at Crotch Island

Item 19447 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

To get an idea of how big a sloop was in 1870 the
Sawer Bait out of Yarmouth measured 55 feet long. To get an idea of how big some of the masts were, the leach of the sail was 90 feet long 48 feet its head 30 feet and the hoist 62 feet. There were about thousand yards of duck in this one sail. Duck is the best sail material but is more expensive-17 cents more a yard. When steam came around it made shipping a lot easier so they no longer had to raise the huge masts by hand because they had steamed powered winches.


6
Boarding House in Hall Quarry

Boarding House in Hall Quarry

Item 19445 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Hall Quarry is mainly a town that was built from the granite industry. A lot of people were coming and leaving: in other words Hall Quarry had a seasonal population There were twelve to fifteen boarding houses in Hall
Quarry where before the company there was forest.

Workers lived in the boarding houses split up according to nationalities. There was only one smoking room in each boarding house where the workers would sit around the only wood or coal stove in the house. They would tell their stories playing cribbage or relaxing reading the news paper.

Very few houses had only two people living there and these people were the higher ups. They formed roads called Peanut Butter Row and Stove Pipe Alley. Susan O'Neill documents that they have long lost the meaning of their names.


7
Hall Quarry Company Store, Mount Desert, ca. 1900

Hall Quarry Company Store, Mount Desert, ca. 1900

Item 19446 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Cyrus Hall started the company store, and was known to be the fairest business man since he always sold all of his items below retail prices.
This made his workers more like family to him instead of just treating his workers like tools to get the job done. The company store sold all the tools and clothes for work and the top room was for sorting out mail that came from the post office in Somesville. A man named One Arm Pete went down every morning to get the mail and brought it back to the company store.


8
Immigrant workers at Hall Quarry, Mount Desert, 1905

Immigrant workers at Hall Quarry, Mount Desert, 1905

Item 19465 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Cutting stone in the late 1800's is a much different task as it is nowadays. The process was backbreaking and very slow compared to today. However without technology they still managed to be an efficient work force. The Swedes were most often cutters with the task of breaking away rectangular blocks from solid rock.


9
Hall Quarry Schoolhouse and Children

Hall Quarry Schoolhouse and Children

Item 19422 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

When the kids weren't at school they would go watch men work loading granite onto the ships. The most exciting incident was the sinking of the Delphini. If kids were bored and wanted something to do and make some extra money they would pick berries. Berry picking, especially blueberries, raspberries and blackberries were plentiful around the quarry ledges. Youngsters made money selling these by the quart for as little as 10 cents. Climbing Acadia (then Robinson) Mountain on the blueberry picking expeditions was an event. So when the fathers were working the quarries and mothers were home the kids always had something to do. When winter came the quarries closed but still there were a bunch of things for families to do. Families would go to dance halls or go ice skating. Also bob sleds were common. When electricity eventually came it powered sewing machines which mothers would sew clothing for the family. Mothers also made school lunches at home and parties at their houses were festivals. Families were happy no matter what they were doing at anytime because they were making money and they had friends but most importantly, they had each other. (O?Neill)


10
Half Rounds and Wedges

Half Rounds and Wedges

Item 19450 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

To do this they first laid down straight lines to guide them and then pounded holes into the granite six to eight inches apart. After all the holes were made iron wedges were pounded between "half rounds" in each hole. The worker would strike each one once then return to hit them again after waiting for a period of time. The longer the worker waited, the straighter the break would be. Eventually the granite would split in a straight line.
Workers would have to be careful to remove the half rounds and wedges before the split to prevent those from being lost. Each worker bought these themselves.


11
Galamander, Vinalhaven, ca. 1920

Galamander, Vinalhaven, ca. 1920

Item 19464 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Once unattached to the earth men lifted these massive chunks of stone onto large horse pulled carts called ?gallamanders?. The gallamander was a kind of wagon with nine foot wheels made of oak with a lever attached to a rope tackle. From here the granite was moved to the cutting shed. Many of the building stones weighed several tons apiece, and much of the lifting and moving was done by hand. To have a team of men move a several ton piece of stone seems an impossible task but these men must have had muscles on their muscles because they did it.


12
Back Powder Receipt

Back Powder Receipt

Item 19467 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

The Fernald Brothers and Higgins granite company operated a small paving operation on the east side of Somes Sound at "The Sound" and purchased black powder from the Standard Granite Company at Hall Quarry.


13
Plug Drill Hammer

Plug Drill Hammer

Item 19453 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

The work was done by hand with tools like this plug hammer used to drive wedges between the "half rounds" that would split the granite.


14
Macadam Hammer

Macadam Hammer

Item 19454 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Cutters owned their own kits- hammers, squares, gauges, and so on. Most companies provided the other tools such as, chisels,points, and other tools. The tools had to be sharpened a lot each day. The cutters were fussy about the handles on the hammers. A proper handle had the oil from their hands and hung just right. The handles were brushed with leather. The number and thickness of steels was varied depending on the degree of smoothness desired. This tool was used to work paving stone that needed a tolerance of 3/16 of an inch to fit together tightly.


15
Granite Carving Tools, ca. 1910

Granite Carving Tools, ca. 1910

Item 19455 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Hand-cutting was exceedingly labor-intensive so cutters- Scotch, English, Irish, Italians, and Yankees- were highly paid. That?s why the lower class people couldn't afford to have hand carved stone. The people that usually got carved stones were, governments, insurance companies, banks, railroads, and millionaires.


16
List of bids submitted by granite companies for the Lodge Building at the Washington Monument, DC

List of bids submitted by granite companies for the Lodge Building at the Washington Monument, DC

Item 19473 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

The Granite industry rose and fell over the years. Cyrus Hall, soon came to a halt in 1892, because of a walkout and losing major bid for a New York Post Office. In his confusion, Hall neglected to sign the contract for the job (seen here). The Union Trust Company of Ellsworth foreclosed his mortgage, and in 1901 he closed down his operations and pulled out. The McMullen Company soon took over.


17
Granite Cutters' National Union Badge, Frankfort

Granite Cutters' National Union Badge, Frankfort

Item 19458 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

The working conditions of Hall Quarry were
a great concern for the quarrymen. ? In addition to
great physical danger of working year after year
with the massive stone blocks and machinery, many
of the men suffered from silicasis, a chronic lung
disease common in people who breath stone
dust.?(Wedin. Pg141) At the start of the
company there were as little as 6 men working the
quarry but that soon escalated to about 1000 when
the Quarry was at its peak. The quarrymen were paid
$1.50 per day even though the work was very
difficult. But that soon changed, ? In 1892, labor
strikes began to create unrest in the quarries
along the coast of Maine. Unions were trying to get
a foothold in the granite industry at that time,
and the companies predictably wanted nothing to do with the movement?(O'Neill)


18
Pneumatic Tool

Pneumatic Tool

Item 19451 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

The most revolutionary change in the quarrying industry was the arrival of the McMullen company. This company produced steam power that allowed powered tools to be run by compressed air which made it faster and easier. The downside to the steam power was in the winter no water meant no power so the quarry had to shut down. Also the work of ten men could now be done by one so many were thrown out of work. It was the use of power tools that created the dust that caused silicasis. The final advance in the quarrying industry was electricity. The compressors could now be run by on electricity instead of coal. The quarry could now run year round because it didn't require water to run and with the length of Maine?s winter this was a major advancement.


19
Granite Cutters National Union Constitution

Granite Cutters National Union Constitution

Item 19472 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

James Grant's father, a worker and union man, gave up his union membership to work for and suprevise the quarry for the New York based McMullen Company. In 1905, this operation suffered a major strike. Workers demanded a shortened day (eight hours from nine) and a raise from two to three dollars a day. The company responding by bringing in replacement or "scab" workers. There were some incidences of violence betwee the strikers and the scabs but once the strike was over, many of the scabs stayed and even joined the union.


20
 Granite Industry Instruction Manual

Granite Industry Instruction Manual

Item 19466 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

After World War I granite was in diminishing demand. Reinforced concrete and steel were favored building materials, and asphalt made smoother streets. Soon after World War I the Depression came and the industry fell again. In an effort to save the industry, the State of Maine tried to entice young workers into the industry by providing vocational training.


21
Apprentice certification

Apprentice certification

Item 19463 info
Maine Granite Industry Historical Society

Young men wishing to work in the granite industy had to complete a three year apprenticeship under the supervision of a journeyman stonecutter to enter the stone trade. The state law required the boy to be 14 years or older, having the physical strength and bone structure for the laborus work that was involved. As this document shows, Fred Haynes completed this apprenticeship with a very high recommendation. After his high school graduation Mr. Haynes moved to Massachusetts eventually opening his own monument business.


This slideshow contains 21 items