The Art of Splitting Stone: Early Rock Quarrying Methods in Pre-Industrial New England 1630-1825


By Mary E. Gage & James E. Gage

Published by Powwow River Books (c)2002


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The Art of Splitting Stone is the first comprehensive study of the methods used to split stone in pre-industrial New England (1630-1825). Drawing upon historical accounts and archaeological reports, the authors have pieced together the early history of rock quarrying techniques in New England.


A total of eleven different stone splitting methods are documented in New England for the time period 1630-1825. These various methods migrated to New England from Europe and the mid-atlantic colonies except for one. One method was invented here in New England. Ironically, this New England invention is not discussed in any of the major scholarly literature on the subject of New England quarrying. This is the first scholarly treatment of this important but forgotten quarrying technique. In Addition, the author's have discovered a rare archaeological site where some of the tools used in this method are still stuck in the rock. 8 1/2" X 11", 64 pp. 17 Illustrations.


Table of Contents



Egyptian, Roman, and British Quarry Holes††††††††††

††††††††††† Egyptian

††††††††††† Roman

††††††††††† British††

Stone Quarries in New England 1630 - 1825†††††††††††

††††††††††† Boulder Field Quarries

††††††††††† Surface Ledge Quarries†††††††††††

Early Rock Splitting Methods in New England††††††

††††††††††† Sandstone Quarrying Method††

††††††††††† Slate and Schist Quarrying Method††††††

††††††††††† Fire Splitting Methods††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Fire and Iron Ball Method††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Fire and Hammer Method††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Fire and Cold Water Method (Spalling)†††††††††††

††††††††††† Stone Wedge Method

††††††††††† Hammering Method†††††

††††††††††† Round Hole Methods††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Blasting Hole†††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Plug & Feather Method: Bartramís Version (1757)††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Plug & Feather Method: Farmersí Version (1790)†††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Plug & Feather Method: Commercial Version (1803)†††

††††††††††† Flat Wedge Hole Methods†††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Flat Wedge Method: Hand Version (1803)††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Flat Wedge Method: Machine Version (1849)

††††††††††††††††††††††† Flat Wedge Method: Rock Hammer Version (1868)††††

††††††††††† Triangular Hole Method†††††††††††


Appendix A - Stone Buildings in Eastern Massachusetts: 1630 - 1826†††††

Appendix B - Glossary of Geology Terms††

Appendix C - Wooden Wedge Method††††††††

Appendix D- Expanding Ice Method†††††††††



The Art of Splitting Stone


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