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Fredericksburg’s Battlefield Granite | Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Fredericksburg’s Battlefield Granite | Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Noel Harrison by Nationwide Park Service / Public domainBy Noel Harrison, NPS

A longtime space resident, Noel Harrison is Supervisor of Easements for the Fredericksburg workplace of the Nationwide Park Service.

To the almost-forgotten previous belongs the story of Fredericksburg’s “Battlefield granite” quarries, as soon as touted as being amongst “probably the most helpful granite properties in america.”

The time period, “Battlefield granite” is a commerce identify for a granitoid rock that was extracted from what as we speak is known as the Fredericksburg Complicated, a gaggle of geological rock models.  Technically, the Fredericksburg Complicated is a gaggle of metamorphosed rocks, which embrace gneisses, schists, and granites (Pavlides, 1980). Blue-gray biotite granites with a number of joint units (fractures) have been extensively quarried for constructing and monumental stone (Watson, 1907). The colour of the granite comes from the mixture of minute flakes of black biotite mica scattered all through a gray-white feldspar background. Uncovered dikes and sills of granite are usually lower than 200 ft thick. In some locations, they’re transected by pegmatite dikes (feldspar) as much as two inches thick (Steidtmann, 1945).

Stone from the south financial institution of the Rappahannock River was quarried at six websites west of Fredericksburg. These quarries have been labored intermittently through the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

The qualities of the “Battlefield granite” in all probability first turned recognized with the institution of a canal and navigation system (Callahan, 1969) alongside the Rappahannock River west of Fredericksburg. Starting in 1829, a route was dug by means of what would later turn out to be the quarry neighborhood, and the usefulness of the unfastened rock for constructing functions was demonstrated through the subsequent development of the stone canal locks (Determine 1).

The primary actual try at quarrying got here in 1871 when George Hazewell leased property alongside the Rappahannock River 2.5 miles northwest of the town with the intention of excavating granite for architectural stone. A quarry was apparently opened however later closed due to the problem of shifting large granite blocks over muddy roads to Fredericksburg’s Rappahannock River wharves to the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad depot.

In October 1893, Joseph York, an entrepreneur from New Jersey, introduced that he would lease the quarry property for a interval of 25 years. York was satisfied that his preliminary survey of the world had revealed “some of the useful granite properties in america” (Free Lance, 1893). Shortly after signing the lease, York shaped a quarrying partnership with Joseph Swift, a businessman from Delaware, as the Battlefield Granite Firm (Fredericksburg b).  The companions quickly turned engaged in probably the most in depth exercise but carried out on the quarry website. A rising demand for Virginia granite made hauling wagonloads of stone over muddy roads financially sensible. The companions employed about 40 workmen, who extracted granite, transported it to a stone-cutting yard within the Metropolis of Fredericksburg, and there, crafted tough stone into completed merchandise of varied varieties. Their operation offered granite for buildings in Petersburg and Williamsburg, and cemeteries in Washington, D.C. and Fredericksburg.

Sadly, the operation started to expertise quite a lot of issues. In 1894 York and Swift misplaced of their bid to acquire an essential street-paving contract from the Fredericksburg Metropolis Council.  Though the companions reported a enterprise upswing in late 1896, their fortunes plummeted when a fireplace destroyed a lot of the stonecutting yard (Every day Star, 1896).

Between January 1897 and April 1899 the quarries underwent a change in administration and ultimately York and Swift transferred management of operations to the partnership of E.J. Cartright and J.H. Davis, and the Battlefield Granite Firm went out of existence.

An important change made by Cartright and Davis alleviated the transportation drawback. In Might 1901, they acquired the proper to drift stone from the quarries to the stonecutting yard, utilizing a part of the previous Fredericksburg canal system. In trade, the companions pledged to restore any injury incurred to the canal’s locks and banks and to pay lease based mostly on the quantity of stone they transported. Along with being an alternative choice to shifting tons of granite over dangerous roads, this association can be the final common use of the canal community for transportation functions.

The Cartright and Davis years have been certainly the heyday of Fredericksburg’s granite business. Elaborate processes have been used to extract, transport, and course of the granite. By 1906, there have been six quarries working on the similar riverside website that had first attracted George Hazewell’s consideration again in 1871 (Watson, 1907).

A typical journey for a bit of Battlefield granite started at one of many quarries. Cartright and Davis staff used each hand and steam drills to bore holes in to the granite (Determine 2). Tough items of granite have been subsequently damaged off from a quarry face by putting spherical wedges or dynamite into the holes. A steam hoist was used within the loading of heavy stone blocks on the quarries. The unfastened rock was transported to the Rappahannock River and dumped right into a canal scow. The documented presence of “hand automobiles” on the quarrying space in 1914 signifies that a miniature railway may have been utilized to assist transfer granite to the ready scow (Fredericksburg c).

The scow was then floated down the river to a dam located between the quarries and the town the place the boat was lowered into the Fredericksburg canal system through the use of a lock constructed with blocks of granite. After leaving the lock, the scow handed down the canal to a pier situated on the fringe of the stoneyard. Derricks have been used to unload the granite, which was then taken to a barn-like ending shed. A miniature “railway” enabled workmen to push heavy blocks of granite across the stoneyard and into the shed utilizing dollies with flanged wheels (Raymond Decater, 1985; private communication). Along with offering shelter for workmen and their instruments, the shed housed an workplace, a secure, and a blacksmith store (Fredericksburg d).

The Cartright Home on Washington Avenue by V. Johnson

The granite might now be normal into quite a lot of varieties. If the stone was destined to turn into curbs, cobbles/spalls, or different “tough” supplies, it was formed utilizing chisels, particular hammers and saws. If extra delicate types have been desired, corresponding to tombstones and monuments, granite cutters went to work with grinders, sprucing machines, hand drills, and lettering instruments. Waste granite and different varieties of “rubble” could possibly be pulverized in a crusher for native use.

Like all craftsmen, the granite cutters had their very own particular vocabulary. A bit of granite arriving from the quarry was stated to be within the type of a “sample” which was the approximate measurement and form the stone wanted for the challenge development. A “good sample” required a minimal quantity of further labor to realize a form of the specified measurement. A “dangerous sample” referred to as for an in depth quantity of labor. In processing, or “ending,” a rectilinear “sample,” the cutter would start by getting ready 4 clean edges, or “drafts,” across the periphery of 1 floor of the stone. This decided the aircraft to which the tough space remained between the “drafts” was subsequently decreased. The cutter would “end” every of the six surfaces of his “sample” on this method, using a sq. to ensure the floor he was engaged on was perpendicular to these surfaces he had already accomplished (McKee, 1973).

A lot of the corporate’s work concerned offering road enhancements to the Metropolis of Fredericksburg. On the work website, Cartright and Davis staff would grade a road utilizing plows and lay terra-cotta drainage pipes the place vital. Granite spalls, or cobblestones, and curbs have been then put in on the leveled floor. Lastly, bricks have been laid and concrete sidewalks poured to provide the road a “completed” look.

Further revenue got here from the crafting of “graveyard structure.” The engineering works included on this class vary from a easy tombstone made for a Northumberland County household to a mausoleum that was constructed by Cartright and Davis in a cemetery close to the City of Orange (Determine three). One businessman from Pennsylvania was so impressed by the qualities of “Battlefield granite,” that he bought a whole railroad carload of clean tombstones and had it shipped to his residence city.

The monument to Basic Hays by M. Bingham

Cartright and Davis offered veterans’ teams with battlefield monuments commemorating the varied actions of the Civil Struggle. Some of the formidable tasks undertaken concerned the development of a monument honoring Basic Alexander Hays who was killed through the Battle of the Wilderness. Survivors of the warfare who had served underneath him needed to mark the location of his deadly wounding by having a big cannon barrel erected. Cartright and Davis accordingly provided a six-ton granite base to which the five-ton cannon was affixed (Determine four). This was one of many largest single stones ever marketed by the quarrymen (Every day Star, 1905).

In 1904, Battlefield Granite was used within the development of a home for E.J. Cartright. This constructing, situated on Fredericksburg’s prestigious Washington Avenue, was completed in 1905 (Determine 5). The mansion’s grey stone partitions and “haunted home” design represented probably the most elaborate utilization of Cartright and Davis granite.

After 1905 the agency of Cartright and Davis went right into a decline. The quarries have been closed down in 1907. Operations resumed in 1908, however enterprise was not what it was. On October four, 1912 Cartright turned over all his pursuits within the agency to Davis and the partnership was dissolved (Fredericksburg e). In August 1914, the 2 males joined forces once more as “Cartright and Davis, Included.” 4 months later this designation was discarded in favor of “Battlefield Granite Company” (Fredericksburg f).

Just like the Battlefield Granite Firm of 1895, the Battlefield Granite Company of 1914 had loads of optimism however not sufficient enterprise. On June 30, 1919, the property of the Battlefield Granite Company was bought. The quarry was utilized by different businessmen till 1945 and the stoneyard to 1923.

In 1956, the Culpeper Stone Firm leased the quarries space from its long-time house owners, the Taylor household. This time, “Battlefield granite” was to be utilized as crushed stone for development tasks. Throughout a flurry of exercise in 1958-1959, one of many quarries yielded as much as 150 tons of granite per hour (Gooch, 1960). 


Callahan, Donald B., 1969, The Rappahannock Canal: Fredericksburg, Virginia, Robert A. Hodge, p. 28-34.

Day by day Star, 1896, December 5, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

__________, 1905, April 1, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Fredericksburg a, Deed Guide AE, p. 387.

__________ b, Deed E-book AF, p. 90.

__________ c. 1903, Land Ebook, p. 9.

__________ d, Deed Guide 48, p. 357.

__________ e. Data of Metropolis Council, V. 16, p. 221, 251, 352, 369, 380.

__________ f. Data of Metropolis Council, V. 17, p. 51, 251, 443.

Free Lance, 1893, October 13, 31, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Gooch, Edwin O., Parrott, W.T., and Wooden, R.S., 1960, Sources of Combination Utilized in Virginia Freeway Development: Virginia Division of Mineral Assets. Mineral Assets Report 1, 65 p.

McKee, H.J., 1973Introduction to Early American Masonry: Stone, Brick, Mortar, and Plaster: Washington, D.C. Columbia Univ., p. 21

Pavlides, Louis, 1980, Revised Nomenclature and Stratigraphic Relationships of the Fredericksburg Complicated and Quantico Formation of the Virginia Piedmont: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 1146, 29p.

Steidtmann, Edward, 1945, Business Granites and Different Crystalline Rocks of Virginia: Virginia Geol. Survey Bull. 64, p. 40-43.

Watson, T.L. 1907, Mineral Assets of Virginia: Lynchburg, Virginia, Virginia Jamestown Exposition Fee, p. 27-28.

This text initially appeared in Virginia Minerals, a publication of the Virginia Division of Mineral Assets. It’s reprinted on-line with the writer’s permission. Its print quotation follows:

Harrison, Noel. “Fredericksburg’s Battlefield Granite.” Virginia Minerals, Quantity 32, No. three, 1986, pp. 27-30. 

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