Vermont’s Vineyards, Breweries, Attractions – and visit Vermont Marble Museum for $1!

August 7th, 2011

Vermont has the SO MUCH to offer – as a visitor to, or a Vermonter on staycation – Vermont is packed with interesting and fun things to do.
During August, visiting any of Vermont’s attractions, breweries, vineyards or museums will have the added benefit of saving you up to $6.50 on admission to the Vermont Marble Museum in “marble city”, Proctor, Vermont!
Bring your admission stub or receipt from any of Vermont’s super things to do, and admission to one of Vermont’s oldest attractions costs only $1!
Hop on Interstate Routes 91, 89, Vermont Route 7, and you will hit many of Vermont’s most fun treats!
Visit the Vermont Attractions website for listings of over 50 attractions Statewide!
http://www.vtattractions.org/
Visit the Vermont Grape and Wine Council for the location of Vermont’s budding Vineyards.
http://www.vermontgrapeandwinecouncil.com/
Visit the Vermont Brewers Association for Brewery locations.
http://brewersvt.com/index.php
Don’t forget – keep your receipt and put us on your Vermont bucket list! Vermont Marble Museum and Gift Shop on Main Street in Proctor, Vermont

Marble Minutes…Life Underground

October 15th, 2010

On a hot summer’s day, a quarryman begins the steep descent into the West Rutland mine. As he makes his way down the series of stair flights, he becomes aware of a gradual chill in the air.

He tramps through the darkened walls of the quarry– past the long stretch of derrick rope and by the massive marble pillars supporting the weight of the mountain of marble. He climbs down 294 steps, more than two hundred feet deep into the quarry, on this 1923 summer day.

Once at the bottom he buttons his jacket against the dank chill. Craning his neck upward, he glimpses a small patch of summer sky. Then he turns and enters the vast underground cavern lying beneath the West Rutland mountainside.

This is the Covered Quarry. In reality, it is a mine made of a series of quarries merged into one. The combined stretch of tunnel covers a distance of about 2,000 feet. One side reaches 400 feet back into the mountain; the other side has eaten its way 300 feet under the railway track. Its greatest depth was approximately 300 feet.

At first glance, chaos and confusion seem to reign. Here there is a string of electric block cars moving away in the gloom, which is lit intermittently by a glimmer of electric light. The shouts of the quarrymen compete with the rattle of drills and channeling machines boring into the massive marble walls as they struggle to release their load. In the distance, there is the rumble of blasting as a new floor of marble is exposed.

Actually, there is very little confusion in that covered quarry. Every man has his job. He knows what he is expected to do and he does it in a familiar and well-choreographed routine.

Scattered through the different floors are fifty channeling machines and thirty drills, each operated by a gang of men. Another gang of men separates the waste marble from the desirable slabs as they work on the electric road, which has pushed its way through 800 feet of the tunnel. More men load the inclined cable track. The block cars will climb 500 feet to the top of the quarry with their heavy loads.

All in all, an army of five hundred men toil in the gloom of the quarry. “Through the Ages” in November 1923 says it was “if the entire population of one of the smaller Vermont villages should clamber down the quarry stairway every workday morning and troop out again every night. It is almost like being placed in another world, and yet is far from being a bad world.”

The men relied on channeling machines, the workhorse of the quarries, to release the blocks of marble from their stone fortress. The machine was a modern marvel when invented in 1863. It took the drills out of the hands of the workmen and set them into frames, using steam power to move them up and down through the layers of rock.

In the late 1800’s, the scene in the Covered Quarry was described in Through the Ages as: “In visiting the quarry pits, the traveler who is sufficiently inquisitive is led down a steep ladder some 100 – 200 feet to the bottom of the quarry, or to a hole in the side of the hill into which it is difficult to see more than a few feet on account of the steam. In this atmosphere, the electric arc lights are merely an aggravation of the gloom. One is told that in this quarry there are about twelve channelers, but he could not believe it except for the deafening roar which he knows must come from the blows of the steel and the exhaust. Nothing short of a photographic flashlight will reveal the busy machines and their operators until the visitor is almost near enough to feel them as well as see them.”

Disaster struck the Covered Quarry on February 10, 1893. A large mass of stone, breaking loose and falling into the depths of the mine, buried a gang of men who were working the channeling machines. Seven men were killed and many others injured. The New York Times on February 11, 1893 noted that the quarry “with which Senator Proctor is connected” had suffered the worst accident in the history of marble quarrying and said that “at soon as the accident happened, the electric danger signal was rung in at the company office and work everywhere was stopped at once.”

The magnitude of the accident shook the industry. The marble bosses intensified their efforts to improve working conditions using modern technology. Changes were made to quarry operations. Most importantly, the steam pipes were removed and electricity was installed. This improvement took away much of the gloom and dampness and brought working conditions to a safer and more comfortable level.

Through the Ages concluded: “thus have the men been given a better place in which to work—which is only another way of saying that they have been given a chance to do better work. This improved service has in turn raised the standard of production and increased the efficiency of the entire system. In short, it has contributed to the general welfare of both wage-earner and employer.”

Deep below the earth a quarry worker uses a steam-powered channeling machine to release marble from its stone bed.

Share your family’s story! Write it down and email or mail it to Cathy Miglorie, The Vermont Marble Museum, 52 Main St., Proctor, VT 057675 cmiglorie@vermont-marble.com Marble Minutes, a weekly column in the Rutland Herald, features historical excerpts from the Vermont Marble Company’s archival materials, the National Association of Marble Dealers newsletters “Through the Ages”, and other publications. It is part of the Dimensions of Marble program, whose projects honors the history and artistry of the marble quarries, the workers, the communities in which they lived, and sculptors past and present, who over generations, brought prosperity to the region. For more information on Dimensions of Marble, visit www.dimensionsofmarble.org or email Megan Smith, Executive Director at info@dimensionsofmarble.org.

Vermont’s hidden treasure

September 14th, 2010

Marble, the hidden treasure of Vermont’s Green Mountains, lay undisturbed for centuries, until early American settlers discovered that the marble outcroppings were suitable for foundations, fireplace lintels, hearths, and tombstones.

Demand for this versatile stone grew. As marble became prized, the demand spawned many quarries and workshops along the Vermont marble belt, which runs from Manchester to Middlebury.

During the 1840’s the industry flourished, growing from these small businesses into integrated marble companies which quarried, cut, polished, distributed and promoted the stone. Early entrepreneurs formed the Sutherland Falls Marble Co, the Rutland Marble Company, the North River Mining Co. and others. These companies became the basis for the Vermont Marble Company when a financial panic hit the country, forcing these smaller companies into receivership.

Col. Redfield Proctor became receiver for the Vermont Marble Company in 1869. Proctor, a highly ambitious man, was often seen loading marble on railcars. He reinvested the profits and bought holdings across America, from Vermont to Alaska. Offices were established in major cities, like San Fransisco and Dallas.

The patriarchs of one family, the Proctors, and their business associates built the Vermont Marble Company into the largest in the world. With salesman that traveled countrywide, the company built public monuments as well as personal tributes which immortalized the everyday man.

Follow their story on Marble Minutes. It’s the quintessential story of the making of America–the triumphs and struggles of corporate bosses, immigrant workers, and the industrious settlers whose lives shaped not only Vermont but our nation.