Monday, October 9, 2017

Road Trip to Vermont - Oct. 9th

We awakened to a hard, driving rain. At first, we were going to head straight for home, but Amanda said, "We can't go home without doing a bit more sightseeing. Let's go to the granite quarry in Barre, Vermont!" I snapped a few photos out the car window as we headed south.
We stopped off at the visitor center in Montpelier to get directions to the quarry. I took the opportunity to walk down the road to photograph the Capital building. Did I mention that it was raining hard?
I snapped this photo inside the visitor center. The volunteer was knowledgable about the quarry and was able to give us some of its history and directions to it.
We drove to the quarry headquarters and were just in time to board a tour bus up to the quarry itself. The tour was well worth the $5 fee.
Our tour guide was great. She introduced us to the blasting techniques used in the mine and gave us lots of history about it.

As soon as we walked over to the fence looking out over the quarry, the rain stopped. Wow, what a sight! This quarry is amazing. 
"At nearly 600 feet deep, we believe it to be the largest operating deep-hole, dimension granite quarry in the world." The granite type is Barre Granite that is exposed from a Devonian aged pluton [a body of intrusive igneous rock (called a plutonic rock) that is crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth. Plutons include batholiths, stocks, dikes, sills, laccoliths, lopoliths, and other igneous formations.)]

The granite from this quarry is particularly exquisite and is coveted for use worldwide for statuaries, gravestones, monuments, etc. It is especially fine-grained and more weather resistant than granite from other mines on Earth.
The blue color of the water is created by suspended granite dust particles.
There are only 2 or 3 people working the quarry at at time, these days, now that modern equipment is available. See how dwarfed the trucks and people are on the platform near the back? In the early 1900's, this quarry employed hundreds of laborers to saw and blast out the granite by hand.
Houses that back up to grout piles have to use extra heat in springtime as the grout piles accumulate ice
over winter that is slow to melt. It does keep houses cooler later in summer.
On our drive back to the Rock of Ages gift shop, we passed by grout piles (of fractured granite pieces that were imperfect and couldn't be used.) There are massive piles of grout all around the mine area.
Barre Granite
Of course, I had to purchase a chunk of Barre granite before we left for home. The minerals give the granite its color. There is feldspar, quartz, and mica (both muscovite and biotite) making up granite. The quartz creates the white crystals, the feldspar is often a tannish colored crystal, and the mica comprises the black crystals.
Homeward bound...Leaving behind the hills of the Green Mountain Range of Vermont and the White Mountain Range of New Hampshire...

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