Would you be opposed to a granite quarry?
What would the reaction and public outcry be in Richmond if someone proposed to open a granite quarry? All along the Falls of the James, there were plenty of quarries at one time, and if you know where to look there are plenty of examples of the topographical alterations to the banks of the river. […]
What would the reaction and public outcry be in Richmond if someone proposed to open a granite quarry? All along the Falls of the James, there were plenty of quarries at one time, and if you know where to look there are plenty of examples of the topographical alterations to the banks of the river.
But how were the huge granite boulders quarried? There is a great description of one method at Pump House Park, another one of Ralph White’s signs.
Breaking stones with feathers
The wall of granite ahead is the remnant of a small quarry. Granite from this site may have been used in the construction of the canal locks or canal arch in this park.
Quarrying was a major industry in Richmond during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The city’s location on the Fall Line yields a natural abundance of this hard stone. Local granite can be found in old curbstones and sidewalks throughout the city and is a prominent feature throughout Shockoe Slip.
Look for a series of finger sized grooves along the edge of a piece of granite in front of you. These marks were made by a rock splitting technique called the “Feather and Wedge” system.
A series of holes was drilled in a straight line where the stone was to be split.
Two “L”-shaped pieces of iron (called “feathers”) were placed in the holes and a wedge was hammered down between them.
The feathers allowed the wedge to be loosened and pressure to be readjusted. When the pressure was even the stone would split in a straight line.
As you explore this park, try to find these marks on the walls of the canal and Pump House.
Paid for by Lyn Newcomb in honor of his mother and father.
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