The history of Long Cove Quarry—from 1900 to the present

[The early history of the Long Cove Quarry appeared in the July 20, 2017 issue of The Dragon.]

The 1900 census of St. George does not recognize the village of Long Cove, but from the names of visitation it is safe to assume that there were about 300 people living in the Long Cove area.  Of those foreign-born in the village, seven were from Scotland, 22 from England and 53 from Finland.  And these newcomers had about 60 of their children with them, all born in the U.S.  The census also shows a boarding house, probably the one that was located on the left just after the first dip in Long Cove Road.  There were a few Finnish families that were in Long Cove at the time of the 1900 census, yet they don’t appear in the record.  It is probably because of the language barrier that existed between the census taker and the Finns.

The beginning of the 20th century saw a rebound of activity in the granite industry.  A branch of the stonecutters union was reorganized at Long Cove in 1904, probably as a result of the fact that Long Cove was one of the quarries providing granite for the New York Customs House.  The owners of the quarry–Booth Brothers–spent quite a bit of money in 1905 in trying to duplicate the “Big Blast” from 1895, which provided a sizable supply of granite with one major dynamite blast.  This attempt did not prove as successful, with the quarry foreman nearly overcome by gas when he entered the tunnel too soon.  This form of loosening granite was attempted again in 1906, but the blast blew itself out.

The 1910 census record is the first census when Long Cove was recorded as a village, and it included people residing on the Main Road (Rt 131), Quarry Road (Long Cove Road), Englishtown Road and States Point Road.  There were 294 people recorded by the census taker.  As indicated by the road name, there were quarry workers who came from England who lived on Englishtown Road.  There were other immigrants from England in Long Cove village, and they lived out by the entrance to Long Cove Road.  The records also show 15 people at a boarding house, and 30 to 40 others boarding in family homes.  In 1910, the majority of the foreign-born were from Finland.

The attempts at conducting large blasts at the quarry apparently continued.  There is one record of a blast in 1915 that ended in tragedy.  The October 22nd issue of the Courier-Gazette reported that “Signe, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Polky of Long Cove was instantly killed yesterday afternoon when struck on the head by a piece of granite which came from a blast in the paving quarry.  The stone weighed about a pound.  Medical Examiner Crockett considered the death purely accidental.”  Oral history says that because of this tragic accident, Booth Brothers built a house for the Polky family.

Long Cove paving cutter, 1927

The 1920 census again provides a record of the residents of Long Cove village.  The census taker did not include States Point Road this time, and this resulted in a total population in Long Cove of 260.  A boarding house again appears, but with only three boarders.  The mix of nationalities didn’t change much from 1910, except for the addition of a handful of Scots and a dozen or so Swedes.  It wasn’t unusual for some quarry workers, especially the unattached, to move from quarry to quarry looking for work.  These quarries were sometime in the same town, same state and some workers even traveled state to state.  The workers with families sometimes moved their families with them, while others left home to find work, returning when a job was finished, or if work was available at home.

The 1930 census of Long Cove included those in the section of town known as Willardham, a village located just south of Long Cove that provided workers for the Long Cove quarry as well as Wildcat quarry. Wildcat was another name for Willardham. The population for these two villages in 1930 totaled 417 people.  The records show a boarding home in Long Cove plus one in Wildcat, with each serving 15 boarders.  One boarding home had 13 Swedes and two Norwegians.  The other boarding home was quite a melting pot, with the boarders representing all the nationalities in the village.  For whatever reason, these two villages were also treated as one in the 1932 Chronicles of St. George.

The village of Long Cove had a school house (the small house on the left as you enter Long Cove Road), a public hall for social gatherings, and a post office.  These last two buildings no longer exist.

I have not been able to find an official date for the closing of Long Cove Quarry, but it probably occurred in the late 1930s to early 1940s.  One indication of a village changing in character is the closing of its post office.  The Long Cove Post Office closed on August 7, 1944.

—John M. Falla (Falla, a lifetime resident of St. George, is a historian of St. George history. Most of the information in this column comes from local newspapers, labor union reports, census records and the books On Solid Granite by Margaret Graham Neeson and Tombstones and Paving Blocks by Roger L. Grindle.)

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