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The History of American Granite

by Staff

Posted on May 17, 2018 07:00:00 AM

Long before granite became the material of choice for countertops across the United States, the natural stone was recognized for its durability by Native Americans who used it in their everyday life in the form of tools. A wide array of prehistoric artifacts were formed by grinding or polishing one stone with another, and granite fit this need for the same reason it performs so well as a countertop – its extreme hardness.

The Venable StoneHenge Mansion in Atlanta, Georgia is made of granite

The early colonists imported the granite they needed for grinding stones in their mills unaware that the durable stone was readily available in the new world. In 1780 the first granite quarry opened in Barre, Vermont, which became later known as The Granite State, and started supplying granite to meet the needs of the colonies, which they used for headstones, monuments, and stair treads among other uses. Later, more quarries were opened and granite was then supplied from more states than just Vermont.

Very few colonial homes were equipped with granite countertops but, there are a number of historical homes boasting granite stair treads and granite floors, although only the most affluent colonists could afford the price of having the granite installed and then polished. Grave markers were by far the most common use for granite during colonial times. Thomas Jefferson was adamant about having a Granite grave marker.

Another early use for granite was the walls built to mark the boundaries of properties and farms. Because granite is so hard, so heavy, and so abundant in the region, it was an easier and more permanent method by which to mark property lines as opposed to wood fences.

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is a popular tourist site that is made of granite

There are a plethora of historical buildings, markers, and monuments made of granite. In Gettysburg, many states sent monuments commemorating their lost soldiers. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC, is also made from granite. A family who owned and operated a nearby granite quarry constructed one of the country’s largest residences made of granite, the Venable Stonehenge Mansion in Atlanta, Georgia. And, of course, Mount Rushmore, one of the world’s largest monuments is carved out of granite.

The California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s led to the discovery of “gold of a different color” as granite was referred to at the time, on the west coast. The first commercial railroad in the United States was established in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1826 to transport Quincy granite to Charlestown to be used in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument. Additionally, during construction of the Transcontinental Railroad (completed in 1869), which connected California to the rest of the country, numerous granite deposits were discovered along its path.

This well known structure, The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, is made of granite

As you can see, granite has been used in the US for centuries in many different applications. If you’re considering it for your home or business, remember, many of these structures have been built to last and granite will surely be a nice upgrade to your new home for a long time coming. It's important to know the history of natural stone, so you can provide your customers with answers too. Natural stone has been in use for many years,