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Friday, July 1, 2016

A Visit to the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, New York

Eric at the Slate Museum
in Granville.

Situated about 30 miles east of Lake George, Granville is one of the communities in the slate rich Mettawee River Valley that borders New York and Vermont.

Slate was discovered in this region of New York in 1839.  Quarrying in New York and Vermont started in the 1840s and this area became known as Slate Valley.

This was hard work for
men & animals.

Men were injured and killed while working in the quarry.  There was no sick time offered for workers to recover from injuries.  There was no insurance to take care of deceased quarriers' families.

Hand dug slate was put on horse
drawn scoops & moved from the
quarry to work yard where it was
trimmed & stacked for transport.

Technology was a boon to the slate industry.  Increased technology increased product yield, providing more slate to the construction industry.  The Rutland Washington Railroad, begun in 1845, moved larger shipments of slate to markets clamoring for this versatile stone.

Aerial carriers, suspended from cables
 above the quarry, were used to
 access portions of the pit out of the
reach of boom derricks.

 With greater access to the pit, production increased.

The boom & bucket loader
of a cable operated crane

The internal combustion engine increased the number of machines that could be used in the pit and work yard.

This forklift is more efficient
than moving slate by hand
or by horse & wagon.

Trucks were a welcome addition
to move slate to the work yard
& to market.

Modern quarrying with
earth movers & trucks

Machines were invented to more efficiently create finished slate products.


Krista Rupe, Director of the
Slate Valley Museum watches
Eric use a machine to drill
holes in slate.

Watch out for your fingers!

Eric drilled a hole in
this piece of slate.

Why drill holes in slate?

So that roofers can nail them
to the roofs of homes &

Besides construction and for walkways, slate was used in businesses and homes.  

This over-sized slate sink could
be used in a business to clean
 any type of material.

In the home, it could be used for
 laundry, washing vegetables, etc.

This decorated fireplace was made
using the "marbelizing process"
of dipping, baking & rubbing
slate to create the illusion of
more expensive marble.

The slate industry fell on hard times during The Great Depression (1929 - 1939).  Communities of the Mettawee River Valley received much needed assistance from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.

The administration created and administered the Civilian Conservation Corps to employ millions of unemployed young men.  The CCC worked on trails, roads and bridges in state and national parks and public funded infrastructure.

The Corps' work in the North
 Country was documented by

CCC workers were housed in
quickly built, utilitarian 
buildings as they worked
on assigned projects.

Artists, in need of employment, were given assignments across the country.

Martha Levy painted a
series of wild Orchids...

... in watercolors.

Government funding of infrastructure and public buildings employed many in need during The Depression.

funded a garage & store house in

The Slate Valley Museum does a great job displaying the history and development of this New York State industry.  I learned a lot about quarrying slate and the innovations used to extract this stone and transport it to markets.  I will be looking for slate roofs on older buildings and slate paths in gardens as I travel in New York and New England this summer.  

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