Thursday, September 23, 2010


Dayton Stone

Stone quarries were the leading industry in Montgomery County Ohio in the mid to late 1800's.

Soon after Dayton was settled, it was obvious there was a great deal of limestone in the area. Farmers were not happy about this fact but later it was determined this stone was valuable.

In 1914 state geologist J. A. Bownocker published a book titled Building Stones of Ohio. He quoted Dr. Orton, who did a Geological Survey of Ohio in 1869, as having written "In Montgomery, Miami and Greene counties the shale contains, in places a very valuable building stone which is widely known as the Dayton stone." He also wrote it was "in every way adapted to the highest architectural uses."

Dayton stone or Dayton Marble as it is sometimes called, is light gray, very compact and strong. It does contain some small iron pyrite crystals which can leave dark spots which look like rusty nail heads, after weathering.

When "Dayton Marble" Brought in Millions was an article in the February 7, 1937 issue of the Dayton Daily News written by Howard Burba. In the article Burba states that in 1827 a Mr. Gallaher advertised he was hiring "able-bodied men to work in the quarries southeast of Dayton". This was the earliest reference Burba found to local quarries.

The Bownocker book says the largest quarry in the Dayton area was in Beavertown, around the present day Dorothy Lane and Wilmington Pike intersection.

Burba lists many quarry owners. Among them he mentions John and Allen Fauver who ran the Wade quarries. He says they began to cut the stone. In earlier times Burba explains fire was built under the rock and thus cracked with the heat.

Stone from the local quarries was used to build many local buildings: several church buildings, the old Library Building in Cooper Park, the old Court House built in 1850 and the newer one erected in 1884. The stone was also sold to far away markets.

Canal building increased the demand for stone since it was needed for the building of the locks.

New quarries were then opened in Belmont near Wayne Avenue and Watervliet.

Only one road led to the quarries and transportation was a problem. To solve this dilemma a type of "railroad" was built from the quarries to the new canal. The rails of this railroad were made of tough hickory and the flat-bed cars that ran on it had grooved wheels to fit the rails. Gravity pulled the cars down the slopes and teams of horses were used to tow them across the flat areas. A stone yard was created between Patterson Boulevard and Wayne Avenue to receive the transported stone.

According to Burba, in order to give a smooth or polished surface to the rough stone, stone cutting and dressing was introduced in 1836 by James L. Wuichet from Switzerland.

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