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.

Images

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.
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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.
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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...
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Indian Cave
Norman B. Miller describes his disdain for the demolishing of the Indian Cave in the quarries by the Amherst Police Department.
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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.
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