Bluestone Quarries

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.

Images

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.
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The Town of Bluestone
Foster Brown, Historical Interpreter and Naturalist for the Cleveland Metroparks, discusses the origins of the town of Bluestone.
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The Color of Bluestone
Joe Hannibal, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, explains how bluestone received its name.
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The Bluestone Town Whistle
Foster Brown, Historical Interpreter and Naturalist for the Cleveland Metroparks, explains the uses of the town whistle Bluestone.
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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.
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"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.
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