Filed Under Environment

Amherst's Quarries

Is Amherst really the "Sandstone Center of the World?" In fact, it is, but it should share its title with South Amherst. Both Amherst and South Amherst have a vast amount of sandstone quarries. Not surprisingly, Amherst sandstone feels rough and gritty. After all, sandstone literally contains sand.

The first Amherst settlers in the early 1800s used the sandy rock to form grist mills and saw mills. Jacob Shupe was the first resident to build a grist mill on Beaver Creek and became quite wealthy using his sandstone grindstones. Not until 1847 did quarrying sandstone become big business in Amherst. A Canadian industrialist named John Worthington developed the first quarry using techniques developed by John Baldwin in Berea. Over the years several dozen quarry companies developed on the various quarries within Amherst and South Amherst. Large scale quarrying brought railroads through Amherst. It also contributed to an increase in the population. In 1830, Amherst's population was 552, growing to 2,482 by 1870. By 1924, most of the smaller companies had been bought out by the Cleveland Quarries Company (CQC) which still owns the majority of the local quarries today.

By the 1950s sandstone was used less widely as building material for homes and buildings. The CQC therefore ran an advertising campaign promoting the use of sandstone in the steelmaking process for linings in furnaces and ladles. For a while, CQC provided three fourths of U.S. steel manufacturers with their sandstone. Because of low demand, however, CQC shut down operations in 1992. It reopened later in the decade but now conducts only a fraction of the amount of work that it had in the past.

Audio

Water Boys Mary Powers Miller's father, Fred Powers, worked as a water boy for a quarry in South Amherst to save money for college.
Clough Quarry The southern portion of Clough Quarry was on farmer Joseph Miller's land. Norman B. Miller remembers playing in those quarries in the 1950s.
A Family Affair Norman B. Miller, a lifelong Amherst resident, had family members on both his mother's and father's sides who worked in the quarries at different stages of their lives, showing how financially valuable the quarries were to Amherst residents.
Indian Cave Norman B. Miller describes his disdain for the demolishing of the Indian Cave in the quarries by the Amherst Police Department.
Quarry Whistle Norman B. Miller remembers using the sound of the quarry whistle to gauge whether or not he would be late to school in the 1960s.

Images

Quarry 7, 1921 This image from 1921 shows the scale of Quarry No. 7. Workers get to their workstation via ladders. Stacks of stone already cut from the quarry can be seen on the top left. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Channeling Machine, 1915 By 1915, more efficient machinery was used to extract larger amounts of stone from the quarries. The new machines also made the quarrying process faster and less dangerous by eliminating the need for blasting. Image courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Pay Book, 1889 An 1889 pay book belonging to Herman Beesing, who later became a mailman in 1914, shows his weekly pay from working in the quarries. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Grindstones at Rail Station, ca. 1900 A number of grindstones from Amherst Quarry No. 6 are stacked by the Lake Shore railway station and ready to be placed on the Michigan Southern Line, circa 1900. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Nichol Quarry Workers, ca. 1900 Workers at the Nichol Quarry, located on the eastern portion of North Ridge Road, pose for a photograph, circa 1900. Note the range of ages, including the young water boys. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Sandstone Ad, 1955 The Cleveland Quarries Company copyrighted this image in 1955. By this time sandstone from Amherst was known for its quality worldwide. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Quarry Train This train transported quarry workers from downtown Amherst, near where most of the workers lived, to various quarry locations throughout Amherst and South Amherst. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Medical Report, 1926 This 1926 medical report from the Cleveland Quarries Company shows the examination records of a Polish immigrant who worked in the quarries. He had recently missed 2 weeks of work due to a smashed toe. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society
Quarry Visitors, 1917 Most quarry companies hosted annual family days and provided tours. Here a few girls are seen playing behind barrels with sandstone and equipment in the background. Image Courtesy of Amherst Historical Society

Location

Metadata

“Amherst's Quarries,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 25, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/258.