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Granite Historical Society

Date: 18/03/2012 | Published: News

The Granite Story

A Chronicle of the Most Unique Square Mile in Baltimore County

By Paul T. Morgan

Reprinted with permission from The Community News, Friday, March 10, 1967

That Magnificant Everlasting Rock

At the extreme western end of Baltimore county, near where the Old Court road terminates at the Patapsco river, lies the tranquil village of Granite. The surrounding countryside of about one square mile contains the visible but almost forgotten remains of a robust industry that flourished there for nearly a century-quarrying the finest, hardest granite rock on the North American continent.

Abandoned quarries, half or totally concealed now by thick woods and dense underbrush are mute reminders of the toil and ingenuity that wrested the crystalline rock from its natural formations and fashioned it into many beautiful and indestructible uses. Narrow roadbeds with bases of granite chips and debris can still be followed through the woods to some of the quarries.

Without benefit of electric power, many thousand tons of granite were cut from a half dozen quarries with steam, compressed air and muscle work by hardy men. The product included stringers for Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tracks, Belgian blocks and curbs for street paving, monuments of all sizes, building stone and slabs for entrances to large structures. One of the latter sometimes filled an entire railroad flat car.

Granite from Granite made the walls of the Baltimore Custom House. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. sent a Dr. David Owen on an inspection tour of building material sources. Of Waltersville and Fox Rock quarries at Granite he reported: “For about a mile square at this locality is an outburst of quartzose, granite of magnificent quality, both as regards beauty of appearance, compactness of structure and uniformity of color, texture and composition. I have never seen anything superior in this country. Indeed, I doubt whether it can be excelled in any country. It cannot be surpassed for strength and durability by any building material in the world.” The original Smithsonian Institution in Washington is built of granite from Granite.

From the Waltersville and Fox Rock quarries at Granite came the blocks used in construction of the Library of Congress, the old U.S. Treasury Department, the Patent Office extension, the general Post Office and parts of the inner walls of the Washington Monument, all in Washington, D.C.

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