IN JULY, 1896, the old Woodbury Granite
Company was taken over by John S. Holden, Charles W. Leonard, and George
The first winter under the new management,
two small derricks were erected on the granite ledge on Robeson Mountain.
There were eleven men on the pay-roll. The blocks were loosened from the
solid sheets by hand drilling, loaded on wagons, and hauled eight miles,
over rough roads, to the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain Railroad station
at Hardwick for shipment. That is how Hardwick first came prominently into
the granite field as a shipping point.
The following year the Hardwick &
Woodbury Railroad was completed as a means of connecting the quarries of
the Woodbury Granite Company and the Fletcher Granite Company on Robeson
Mountain more directly with the outer world. The stock of the road was
floated partly by popular subscription, but mainly by the backing of John
S. Holden and his associates. Nine miles of track had to be built to reach
the quarries (since increased to fifteen miles) and the grades were such
that no ordinary engine could be coaxed to climb them. Undaunted, a mountain-climbing
engine of the Shay-geared type was purchased and the road put into operation.
Given the railroad, the quarries began
to develop rapidly. The demand for Woodbury Gray Granite increased, but
it was soon realized that the market for granite sold only in the rough
must be broadened, or the quarries would have to be abandoned as an unprofitable
In 1899, the firm of Bickford, More
& Company was formed, composed of George H. Bickford, Charles H. More,
John S. Holden and Charles W. Leonard. Their idea was that they should
manufacture the granite and sell it to the retail trade in finished form.
Land was acquired in Hardwick and a two hundred foot shed erected on the
line of the Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad.
As an outlet for the quarried product,
the firm of Bickford, More & Company was a success from the start,
and from small monumental work, the firm began to reach out for small building
jobs. The growth of the business incessantly swallowed up its working capital
and its profits in improvements. Number two shed was added to Number one;
additional saw gangs and another huge McDonald surfacing machine were installed,
and a powerhouse and boilers were housed in an annex.
The demand for more direct connection
with the quarries led to a reorganization in 1902, and again the combined
faith of the active members of the two companies was behind the venture.
Bickford, More & Company was merged into common ownership with the
quarry, and the Woodbury Granite Company assumed control of the plant at
Hardwick as well as the quarry ledge.
In 1903, the contract for the Pennsylvania
State Capitol came into the market. Calling, as it did, for 400,000 cubic
feet of stone to be furnished and set in place in the extraordinary time
of twenty-four months, it was an undertaking to appall even well-established
firms. The conditions of the contract were said to be impossible. Certainly
no one outside of Hardwick dreamed that a company in Vermont, backed by
only two sheds and a partly opened quarry, would dare bid on the work.
With a faith that seemed foolhardiness,
but which proved to be genius, the management saw the vision of what might
be. The members of the firm pledged their personal resources to the enterprise;
the plans were figured; and to the surprise of the coast quarrymen who
were not looking for inland competition, the Woodbury Granite Company's
figures landed the contract.
Continuous deliveries must be made,
for the building could not be delayed. How it was done is one of the romances
of Vermont business history. The details are of little importance now.
Suffice it to say the requirements were met to the letter. Inside of eight
months the stone was being furnished on contract time.
By the end of the first year the quarry
and plant were ahead. During the first eight months of the second year,
thirty huge monolithic columns, 30 ft. long, were quarried, finished in
the big lathe, and shipped for the job. The twenty-second month found the
work shipped and set complete, with two months still remaining, unneeded.
The feat was unprecedented, and the company's fame was established.
10 teams of horses and
oxen used to haul granite from the quarries in Woodbury to the
sheds by the R.R. tracks
Since that time the company's motto
has been equipment and efficiency. In the past six years, over $500,000
has been expended in derricks, machinery, overhead cranes, and the latest
improved stone working tools. In 1907, the water power rights of T. T.
Daniell at Mackville, Nichols Pond, and East Long Pond were acquired, new
dams built, generators installed, and the cutting shops at Hardwick equipped
with individual motor drives to each machine. This development is still
It is obvious that a company that started
with an absolutely undeveloped quarry and with no cutting plant whatever,
and in fifteen years time has built up what is admitted to be the largest
granite business in the world under a single management must stand for
some principle that means something to the trade.
The secret of its success lies in the
efficiency of its organization and the end and aim of that organization
has always been to accomplish three things:¾ economy of production,
speed of output, and a product satisfactory to its customers.
That it has been able to satisfy its
customers is amply proven by the phenomenal growth of its business and
by the fact that it has been so successful in retaining its old customers
as well as in securing new ones.
So rapidly has it extended and improved
its plants, and so various are the improvements now under way that it is
almost impossible to give a description of the works. The company has its
own timber lands and operates its own saw mill for the production of its
dimension timber and for boxing and crating the granite produced at its
Hardwick plant. It owns its own water power plant at Hardwick, developed
for 1000 H. P., with an extensive system of water storage for the development
of electric power, with which it operates its cutting plant at Hardwick.
On this same power it also operates two of its extensive quarries in Woodbury.
Here, too, alongside its water power plant, it has a complete and up-to-date
steam plant equipped with Sterling boilers and a Turbo-generator set good
for 2,000 H. P. for auxiliary use, to avoid any possible interruption of
its production for want of power.
A glance at the plant at Hardwick reveals
a large and well-lighted office building, in which are housed the various
heads of the departments, its drafting force, etc., and some idea of the
volume of the business done can be gained from the fact that it employs
in its drafting department alone, twenty or more skilled draftsmen, besides
its estimators, cost clerks, etc.
At this plant, we find three mammoth
cutting sheds besides other smaller ones, including carving sheds, blacksmith
shops, job and machine shops, carpenter shops, grinding rooms, big air
compressors, etc.¾ in short, all the necessary equipment for
the employment at this plant alone of over five hundred men. Here,
too, is the company's main storehouse for supplies, which is larger and
more crowded than the ordinary country store. In the main cutting shed
is found a greater assortment of up-to-date machinery than can be found
in any other granite plant in the world. Here is one of the two big McDonald
surfacing machines, costing $8,000 each, of which the company has four
out of a total of less than a dozen in existence. Here, too, are polishing
lathes, gang saws, carborundum saws, and the largest stone turning lathes
in the world, among them one just installed capable of taking in a stone
36 ft. long and 8 ft. 6 in. in diameter.
That the company is on the alert for
the utmost speed and efficiency of production is nowhere more apparent
than under its immense runway, 870 ft. long and 75 ft. wide, This runway
is equipped with two electric-driven steel cranes, each good for thirty
tons capacity. Under it are eighteen tracks, on each of which can be placed
two or more cars simultaneously. Here one can feel the very heart throb
of the whole plant, ¾as it is here that everything centers. Under
this runway must come nearly all raw material used in the plant, and from
it must be loaded nearly all of its finished product.
This extraordinary provision for unlimited
storage and rapid shipment of its product is without a parallel in the
stone trade, and it has had much to do with the rapid delivery records
of the company of which the management is justly proud.
Extending from this runway are soon
to be built three other immense sheds, all under the same roof and each
equipped with steel cranes, which will practically double the possible
output of the plant.
That the company is also alert to the
necessity of finding an outlet for its waste materials is proven by its
extensive equipment for making paving blocks on one side of the plant,
where thirty to fifty paving cutters are provided for under twin cableways,
each of five tons capacity, and by its extensive crushing plant on the
other side of the works with a capacity of two hundred tons a day.
But immense cutting plants and extensive
equipment, however perfect they may be, are of little value unless backed
up by equally extensive quarries of a quality and grade of granite that
will meet the demands of the trade. A visit to the quarries at Woodbury,
eight miles from Hardwick, is sufficient to convince one that here are
located some of the finest granite quarries in the world, and that in the
extent of the deposits and the quality of the gray granite found in the
oldest of its three quarries located in Woodbury, the company has found
the strongest justification for the extensive improvements at Hardwick
and for the faith it has always had in the future of the business.
From this quarry is taken its regular
gray granite, known to the trade as " Woodbury Gray," and it is to the
credit of the company that in the ten years it has been engaged in the
production of this granite for building purposes it has brought it to the
point where it has come to be recognized as one of the three or four granites
of this country accepted as standards. There are very few of the largest
building contracts let that do not have to reckon with this granite in
Here, too, is produced the grade of
the gray granite, known to the monumental trade as the "Bashaw Granite,"
and made famous as "the trade marked stone," the purpose of the trade mark
being to concentrate upon this stone the cumulative effects of the extensive
advertising campaign inaugurated by the company. The results were so apparent
that it has since trademarked its other granites for monumental purposes
the "Imperial Blue," "Peerless White" (or Bethel Granite) ,"and the "Vermont
White" each one of which has some strong and distinctive characteristic
of color or grain.
At the Gray Quarry of the company are
located ten immense derricks, several cableways, a central power plant
with its big air compressor, blacksmith shops, engine houses, office, etc.,
all on the largest scale for it is here that many a record has been broken
in the time required for the production of big building contracts or in
the quarrying of some single stone of unusual size. From these quarries
and from the cutting plants at Hardwick have been produced such monumental
buildings as the Chicago City Hall, Cook County Court House, Chicago; Pennsylvania
State Capitol, the Providence, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids Post Offices,
and it is the proud distinction of this quarry to have produced granite
for four state capitols, those of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Iowa and Idaho.
During the single year of 1910 it produced
the granite for twenty-four post offices, and for 1911, twenty-six post
offices, which fact alone would seem to be ample proof that the "Woodbury
Gray Granite" has come to be recognized as a standard stone and to bear
the stamp of Government approval.
A description of the quarry is difficult
and in fact almost impossible, as it changes so constantly, but at this
quarry could be seen in one of its openings a single sheet of flawless
stone five hundred feet long, twenty to thirty feet deep, and twenty to
fifty feet in width. This alone of all the company's quarries and cutting
plants is operated by steam.
About a mile from the Gray Quarry is
located the ledge from which is being quarried the "Vermont White" granite.
This is a new quarry opened in 1912 and from it is being produced a remarkably
white granite the whitest, perhaps, of all the granites, with the single
exception of the Bethel granite produced by this same company at Bethel,
Vermont. The ledge is of unusual promise, both as to quality of stock and
the extent of the ledge, and already contracts have been taken in this
granite for some very large and monumental buildings. At this quarry are
already in operation eight big derricks run by mammoth electric hoists,
and there is every indication that it will soon develop into one
of the largest quarry properties in the country.
About a third of a mile farther on
is located the dark gray ledge from which is taken a beautiful monumental
stone known as the "Imperial Blue." Like the "Vermont White," this is a
newly developed ledge of remarkable promise.
Both quarries are located on spurs
of the Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad, controlled by the company. Like
the "White," the Blue Quarry is operated with electric hoists. An air compressor
plant, motor driven, supplies the air required for both quarries. Here,
too, is located an auxiliary steam plant with steam compressor for emergencies.
The "Imperial Blue" granite promises to take high rank among the darker
granites used for polished monumental work, being even darker in shade
and finer in texture than the best dark Barre.
In 1903, the company purchased quarry
property at Bethel, Vermont, sixty miles south of Hardwick, and began there
the erection of a cutting plant which has grown to be second only in size
to that at Hardwick. The same business insight and aggressive policy which
has made Hardwick the leading building granite centre of the country has
made itself felt at Bethel in the production of the unique white granite
quarried there and it is fast making the name "Bethel" a household word
in the granite industry because of the superior excellence of the stone;
for Bethel granite has the proud distinction of being the whitest known
granite as well as the hardest, and hence most expensive, of any of the
granites used for commercial purposes.
A visit to the Bethel quarries reveals
a beautiful formation of pure white granite of a soft, mellow shade that
easily puts it into q class by itself. The sheets run in thickness from
a few inches to eight or ten feet. The quarry is equipped with several
large derricks, electric hoists, electric-driven air compressors, and thoroughly
modern and up-to-date equipment.
This granite is shipped in the rough
by rail to the cutting plant, located in Bethel village. Here can be seen
what may be considered the "last word" in the equipment of a granite plant.
Everything is electric driven, the power being furnished by the company's
own power plants, two of them, each good for 600 H. P. From these same
power plants is also developed the power required at night for the lighting
of four towns and villages, Bethel, Randolph, Randolph Center and Gaysville.
These water power plants, together with an auxiliary steam plant, with
an engine capacity of 1,000 H. P. and a boiler and electrical capacity
of 500 H. P., are owned by the Gaysville Electric Light and Power Company,
a subsidiary company owned by the Woodbury Granite Company.
At the Bethel plant are four big cutting
sheds (three of them under a single roof), a big steel runway, two hundred
feet long, seventy-five feet wide, for storage of granite and for shipping,
and another runway two hundred and fifty feet long and sixty feet wide.
On the runway and in the sheds are in operation five big steel cranes,
electric-driven, ranging in capacity from ten to thirty tons. Here are
big compressors, two McDonald surfacing machines, large lathes, second
only in size to those at Hardwick, machine shops, and blacksmith shops,
built of concrete blocks, three big Pirie sharpening machines (a recent
invention for sharpening cutters' tools), and many other devices for reducing
the cost of production and for increasing the output. For here, as at Hardwick
and Woodbury, is found abundant proof of the same efficient business organization,
striving always to accomplish its purpose of securing economy of production,
speed of output and a product satisfactory to its customers.
If anything more were needed to prove
that it has accomplished its purpose, we need only mention some of the
monumental buildings it is now actually at work upon, making a grand total
of fully $4,000,000 of unfinished work: The Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison,
Wis.; Pro-Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minn.; Turk's Head Office Building, Providence,
R. I.; Post Office, Washington, D. C.; Miners' Bank Building, Wilkesbarre,
Pa., and Hartford City Hall, Hartford, Conn., and the twenty-nine
story Western Union Telegraph Building to be erected at the corner of Broadway
and Dey streets, New York City, at a cost of over $1,000,000; all the above
of Bethel granite. Minneapolis Post Office, Minneapolis, Minn.; Public
Monuments at Bloomington, Ill., Princeton, Ill., and Madison, Wis.; and
a portion of Bankers' Trust Company Building, in New York city¾all
in the Woodbury Gray or Bashaw granite.
Home Office Building for North Western
Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; Museum of Fine Arts, Minneapolis,
Minn., and Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Wichita, Kan. in the "Vermont