There is a lot of curiosity about the history of the quarry industry in St. George. In this column I’d like to summarize the information known about the various quarries in town and in future columns I’ll spend some time focusing on each.
The mid-1800s saw the beginning of the granite industry in St. George. Prior to that time, deeds providing granite rights to properties in St. George were common, but large-scale operations did not begin being established until the 1870s.
Quarrying activities in Spruce Head were in full swing by 1850. The census of that year shows 22 men working as “stone cutters,” with most of them living in the Spruce Head area. Of the 22 men, there were seven Irishmen living together under one roof, probably a boarding house. Which specific quarries were operating in Spruce Head in 1850 is not known for sure at this time, but the possibilities include Isaiah Fogg’s at Patten Point, as well as the quarry on Spruce Head Island.
The Atlantic Quarry, also known as Emery’s Quarry, was started by Joseph Emery and was located on the road between Route 73 and Island Avenue leading to Rackliff Island.
Eagle Quarry began operations in 1886. This quarry was located, as you would expect, on the Eagle Quarry Road that goes down to Wheelers Bay from Route 73.
The main quarrying activity in Long Cove began in 1873 when the Smalley family sold land and granite rights to James M. Smith, Joseph Hume and William Birss. These men were the foundation for the Long Cove Granite Co. After some financial difficulties, these original owners sold out in 1882 to Booth Brothers.
George McConchie and George Green were operating a small quarry in 1889 near the intersection of Long Cove Road and Englishtown Road.
Further along the Englishtown Road, Altman & Co. operated a black granite quarry, later becoming known as Superior Black Granite Company. This was in the 1920s and 1930s.
The quarry on the island, under the various owners over the years, began operations at least by the late 1850s and continued until the 1900s.
Glencoe Granite Co. was formed in 1894 and operated on the eastern bank of Long Cove.
The quarry on the mainland began in 1920 under the name of John Meehan & Son. This quarry operated until the 1960s.
Two quarries operated in the Willardham area, one at States Point and the other was known as Wildcat. The Willardham area got its name from the earliest settler in that area, John Willard.
The islands of St. George known to have some degree of quarrying activity on them include Rackliff Island, Eagle Island and Mosquito Island.
Many other small quarry operations have occurred in St. George. They were of varying degrees of size and operated for varying periods of time. There are quite a few people in town who can tell you of a quarry hole or outcropping on their land. These are referred to as “motions” and they are defined as a small quarrying operation usually conducted by one man on his own property. Men would typically work their motion during the times the major quarries were shut down.
—John M. Falla (Falla is an historian of local history who grew up in St. George and until recently served as the town’s manager. He notes that his sources for information on St. George’s quarry industry include Smalley’s History of St George, Grindle’s Tombstones and Paving Blocks: The History of the Maine Granite Industry, Neeson’s On Solid Granite, Brayley’s History of the Granite Industry of New England, as well as primary source material such as the Knox County Registry of Deeds.)