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Bluestone Quarries

Euclid Township's "Bluestone Rush" Boomtown

Denison Park, which anchors the northeastern edge of Cleveland Heights just west of Euclid Creek, straddled one of the old Euclid bluestone quarries that dotted the landscape to the east of Cleveland. Nearby, a town called Bluestone appeared in Euclid Township in present-day South Euclid to serve several quarries, including that of Irish-born Duncan McFarland on Euclid Creek. Peopled by mostly by Irish and Italian immigrants, the town was a wide-open boomtown with a general store and saloon, not unlike western mining towns. Railway spurs opened to carry the heavy loads of stone to market. Euclid bluestone was used widely in the Cleveland area and in Detroit, Milwaukee, and Buffalo as flagstone for sidewalks, exterior steps, windowsills, and a host of other applications.

The boomtown atmosphere of the village of Bluestone settled down as the quarrying business slowed in the 1900s and 1910s, and by the 1920s the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Board transformed the largest of the quarries into a portion of the Euclid Creek Reservation. Bluestone quarrying never regained its former importance but did continue in limited form under the aegis of the WPA in the 1930s. The old Euclid City Hall, now the Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, is among the few reminders of that effort.

The northeastern section of Cleveland Heights, almost rural as late as the 1920s, began to fill with subdivisions, a process that accelerated as the last farmlands gave way to the bulldozers in the years after World War II, aided by the WPA-constructed Monticello Boulevard in the late 1930s. Impressive growth helped raise Cleveland Heights's population to around 60,000 by the early 1950s. In response to the need for convenient recreational facilities to relieve having to travel up to three miles to use the nearest city parks, in 1955, Denison Park opened on the site of one of the bluestone quarries that had been used for years thereafter as a city dump. Named for Cleveland Heights councilman Robert F. Denison, it added a swimming pool in 1968 to relieve overcrowded Cumberland Pool. In recent years, with populations trending downward, the pool closed.

The suburban development that followed the "bluestone rush" reflected its legacy. In the Noble-Monticello area of Cleveland Heights, Bluestone and Quarry roads were so named for their proximity to Nine Mile Creek on the western fringe of the Euclid Creek quarrying area. Today many slabs of bluestone remain intact on Cleveland Heights sidewalks, although many are nearing the end of their useful life due to damage from vehicles, freeze-and-thaw cycles, and erosion. The Bluestone condominium development on Mayfield Road also keeps the name alive.

Audio

Sandstone in Northeast Ohio Joe Hannibal, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, describes the geology of quarries in the northeastern Ohio. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Town of Bluestone Foster Brown, Historical Interpreter and Naturalist for the Cleveland Metroparks, discusses the origins of the town of Bluestone. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral HIstory Collection
The Color of Bluestone Joe Hannibal, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, explains how bluestone received its name. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Bluestone Town Whistle Foster Brown, Historical Interpreter and Naturalist for the Cleveland Metroparks, explains the uses of the town whistle Bluestone. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Quarry Remains Joe Hannibal, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, shares where one can find the remains of a sandstone quarry. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
"That's Where We Went to Catch Bugs" Barbara Wherley, who grew up in the Noble-Monticello neighborhood, remembers going to Denison Park to collect bugs for a 10th grade class project on insects in the late 1960s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Bluestone Quarry Euclid bluestone quarries were among the first developed in northeast Ohio during the early 19th century; the geographic proximity and stratigraphic access of the outcrop to the emerging urban center prompted the growth of the sandstone quarrying industry. Source: Euclid Historical Museum
Quarry Wall, 1938 Pictured is the Civilian Conservation Corp building a stone wall around a deserted bluestone quarry. Similar projects to guard or fill in abandoned quarries were undertaken as part of the Works Progress Administration throughout the United States. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Special Collections
The Euclid Railroad In this photograph of a South Euclid quarry, one can see a spur of the Euclid Railroad in close proximity to to the worksite. Another method of transporting bluestone to urban centers was by waterway. Image courtesy of South Euclid Historical Society
Bluestone Mill The construction of water and steam powered mills during the 1800's allowed for more efficient production of large slabs of the fine grained sandstone; these sheets of bluestone were extensively used in the Cleveland area for sidewalks. Image courtesy of South Euclid Historical Society
City Dump, ca. 1945 Quarried grounds were converted to a city dump in what is now Denison Park. The use of landfills gained popularity following World War II as consumer culture resulted in an increased volume of waste. The landfill was converted into a park in 1955. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Special Collections
Old Euclid City Hall Faced with Euclid bluestone, the old Euclid City Hall--located at 605 East 22nd Street, is now used as the Cleveland National Polka Hall of Fame. Image courtesy of Andrew Glasier

Location

Metadata

J. Mark Souther, “Bluestone Quarries,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 29, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/552.