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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Granite Foundations on the Backside of Walmart

From Joe Viger:


My local Walmart is store #2140 in North Conway, NH. It was built on a tract of land near the southern end of Rattlesnake Mountain and the Nature Conservancy's Green Hills Preserve. Look up over the store at the slopes of Rattlesnake Mountain and you might notice that the granite cliffs seem too square to be natural. Ignore your shopping and take a 15 minute walk and you'll discover that what you were looking at from down in the Walmart parking lot are the remnants of two granite quarries over 100 years old.

Redstone Quarry-15.jpg


In the 1800's the area had already been a source of granite boulders for bridges and foundations. In 1880, a roadmaster for the Maine Central Railraod named George Wagg brought samples of the stone to the Maine Central President, Payson Tucker, and J.H. Emery of the North Jay Granite Company. Land on Rattlesnake Mountain was acquired and by 1887 Wagg was president of the Maine and New Hampshire Granite Company and Redstone Quarry took shape. The site was expanded with additional land purchases, a cutting yard at the base of the mountain and a branch line from the Maine Central.

Redstone Quarry-14.jpg

Redstone Quarry-16.jpg

The quarry was valuable for producing two colors of granite... pink and green. At the height of production, Redstone was a vital community of 350 stone workers and tradesmen with its own train station and company-owned housing. The quarries supported 10 derricks moving stone down the slope. Stone lathes produced turned granite columns and skilled carvers created statue pieces. Green granite from Redstone was used to build the Hatch Shell in Boston. Pink granite made its way to New York for Grant's Tomb and Washington in the National Archives building.

Lathe House II

Lathe House I

Granite Lathe

Redstone Quarry Wash House

The history of this site is well described in an article called "Redstone Granite Quarries" at WhiteMountainHistory.org and I'm thankful to cite it as a source for the text above, along with Wikipedia. Early photographs can been seen here.

3 comments:

  1. Nice summary of the site and photographs of course. I never knew that some of the granite went to well-know buildings and monuments.

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  2. Excellent post, Joe! I went to college in the Granite State and didn't know half that stuff. Thanks!

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  3. Thanks Kris and Mick! I just discovered all of this in the last year even though I grew up with in an hour of the site and have lived 15 minutes from it for the last 11 years. Truly on the Backside I guess!

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