Marble, Granite, and Slate
Why does Vermont have three state rocks?
Vermont has three official state rocks – marble, granite and slate. These three types of rocks are found in the ground in different places in Vermont. Marble, granite and slate from Vermont have been used for buildings and monuments all over the country. All three rocks are important to Vermont’s economy and to Vermont history.
Marble is found on the western side of Vermont in places like Danby and Proctor. In 1894, the Vermont Marble Company in Proctor had 1,800 workers. These workers removed the marble from the quarry(a place where rocks are removed from the ground). They shaped it into blocks and columns for buildings. They carved it to make statues and tombstones. Some of these workers were immigrants from Italy and Ireland.
The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, is made from Vermont marble. It took 353 train car loads of marble to build the monument! This marble was quarried in Danby.
Granite is found in central Vermont. It is still quarried in Barre and Bethel. In the late 1800s, a railroad was built up to the quarries in Barre. The train made it easier to move the heavy stone down the hill. A lot of this granite was used to make gravestones. Barre grew as more workers moved to the city to work in the granite quarries and sheds. Many of these workers came from Scotland and Italy.
The columns on the front of the Vermont State House are made from Barre granite. The columns survived the fire in 1857 and are still standing today.
The Slate Valley is located in Vermont and New York near the town of Poultney. Slate splits easily into slabs(wide, flat pieces). In the 1800s, slate was used to make chalkboards in schools. Workers also cut the slate into smaller pieces to make shingles for roofs. Some of the workers came from Wales and Eastern Europe to work in the slate quarries.
Slate from the Slate Valley was used on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC. Do any houses in your town have slate roofs?
Look around your community. Try to find examples of Vermont’s three state rocks in your town.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
If you had to pick just one state rock, which do you think most represents Vermont? Why?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Read the article The Slate Valley from Historic Roots Magazine
Read the article How Father Mouse Came to Vermont And Other Stories from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Read the article Just Like the Real Thing! Marbleized Slate in Vermont from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Watch the video Dorset Quarry from This Place in History
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "Marble, Granite, and Slate." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/vermont-state-rocks