Josephine County Historical Society's "Passport To History" - Granite Tombstone Quarry - Hugo, Oregon
The missing link to our Josephine County Historical Society's "Passport To History" program has been found.
Twice before, we had searched for this elusive Granite Tombstone Quarry.
We got to know the peacock that runs with the
wild turkeys, as we walked the entire area.
Up to the top of this hill,
where the communications towers
look out over the vast country,
and down the logging roads that surround the area.
We finally decided to take the guided tour by Mike Walker who is the Education Chair of the Hugo Neighborhood Association and Historical Society.
This really made it all so enjoyable, and plus that, Mike opened the gate so we could go in with our vehicles.
It turns out that we had at several times been less than 200 feet away from the old Granite Tombstone Quarry, and on three different sides, but it was not what we expected. We had been looking for something that stood out, but it seems the forest has reclaimed much of the quarry.
As near as records can determine, the granite outcropping was in use as a tombstone quarry from the 1880s through 1929, and created tombstones for the surrounding area cemeteries.
William A. Cox is the first recorded owner, and it was run as a family business. Not known is how much granite lies underground, or if this is just a relatively small outcropping.
Very little is known of the workings of the quarry, but it seems as if the stones were cut out and moved downhill to various work stations.
Mike said that evidence indicates that shelters may have existed, which likely meant that the workers lived right here on the job site. Because of our mild climate, it almost certainly was an operation that continued year-round.
This stone is named the "Obelisk Sentry Stone," as it guards the Granite Tombstone Quarry from below.
This is the "Line-of-Stones" referred to on self-guided tour map.
Mike Walker really did a superb job in making this tour great fun and entertaining, as well as educational. Here he gathers everyone around to discuss additional findings that have recently been made.
Since the Granite Tombstone Quarry was only rediscovered in 2007, there is a lot of research yet to do. It was stumbled on by a government worker surveying the property for an upcoming timber sale. Research turned up a lot of old-timers who eventually remembered that there had been a quarry there, but it had been forgotten for so long that every discovery now is new and exciting.
Mike said that they have recently found wire that had been wrapped tightly to form what sounds like early man-made cables for towing the stones from the quarry to the work areas below.
The area around and below the quarry looked like many work-sites,
where it could have been that the stones were in various stages of completion, which maybe indicates that the workers had a sort of assembly line operation, and maybe more for camaraderie than anything else.
There are many stones scattered downhill that appeared to be in final stages of completion, and something happened to fracture the stone, so it had to be discarded. They lie on the fringes of the operation, and ended up being monuments to themselves.
Many of these drill holes are observed on the stones in various sizes. Possibly the larger ones were hand drilled for packing dynamite to blast the stone loose.
The smaller holes may have been used for splitting the slab of stone in smaller slices for final finishing, but this is just speculation on my part.
Before the modern pneumatic drills, such a this one, were used for stone work,
the work was done by hand, using star drills, such as these. One man would hold the drill, while another hit it with a sledge hammer. The holder would turn it slightly after each strike, and gradually drilling a hole.
When the holes had been drilled to the required depth along the line to be sheared off, the powder charge was placed. Ignited simultaneously, the stone would break in a straight line. Final finishing may have all been done with hand tools.
Stones such as this "Discovery Stone," show evidence of having been very close to final finishing. There is no obvious reason why this stone could not have been completed. Maybe it was at the end of the operation, and everything just shut down.
Pedestal stones, such as this, are seemingly ready to be transported to their final destination. As their name implies, they act as a base for a finished monument.
Mike said there is a lot of work to be done yet on completing research on the Granite Tombstone Quarry. Stones from here were hauled by wagon on the old trail along the base of the hill, and out to what is now Interstate Highway 5. The old trail connected and continued for a time on the historic "Applegate Trail." The stones made their way over the pioneer road to where they rest today.
The same exact type of granite, as came from our quarry, has been found at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, which is only a few miles from the Granite Tombstone Quarry.
Contact the Josephine County Historical Society for your "Passport" and directions.
Follow the directions, and look for this road. The fork on the left is obviously not the one you want, because it goes up at very steep angle that takes you to the communications towers. Stay to the right, and go until you see
this small stake on the right side of the road. Go down hill, following the orange flags, which puts you on the path that leads to the quarry. With the help of your self-guided tour sheet you should be able to easily find the stones.
If you don't wish to do the self-guided tour, we highly recommend Mike Walker's tour, as his dialogue will not only give you information you cannot find on your own, but is also a heck of a lot of fun.
Please visit the Josephine County Historical Society's website for more information on the Passport To History program.
Below are the links to my earlier Josephine County Historical Society's Passport To History blogs.
Introduction Caveman Schmidt House
Blind George's Newsstand Grants Pass Historic Homes Tour
Historic District Tour Grants Pass Pharmacy Rogue Theatre
Hugo Community Church Haines Apple Tree Ament Dam
Grants Pass Cemeteries Pottsville Sportsman Park
Griffin Park Lake Selmac Granite Hill Cemetery
Pleasant Valley Cemetery Josephine County Bridges
Grants Pass Fire Department Reinhart Volunteer Park Wolf Creek Inn
Applegate Trail Interpretive Center Golden Townsite
Grave Creek Covered Bridge Robertson Bridge
Wilderville Store and Post Office Wilderville Cemetery