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Chapter 6

Originally published in 1884
Compiled by Willian H. Shaw

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2004

From G. H. Cook's Geology of New Jersey.

QUARRIES were opened in Essex County as early as 1700, and probably at an earlier date, and many of the substantial old farm-houses built of these reddish sandstone long before the time to which the memory of any one living runneth back, are still standing, and to all appearances are good for another two hundred years, thus testing the durability of this kind of stone for building purposes. It was used for gravestones and monuments during the early settlement of Newark, and

Quarries for marketing stone are worked at Belleville, (or in the bounds of Franklin Township), Newark and Orange.

Belleville Quarries. -The so-called Belleville quarries, are located in what is now Franklin Township, on the west bank of the Passaic River, and about a quarter of a mile east from Avondale Station on the Newark and Patterson Railroad. The first opening made here for building stone was nearly or quite a century and a half ago, but only since 1857 have these quarries been vigorously worked. The production has been greatly increased since 1879, and at present there are between three hundred and fifty and four hundred men employed in the quarries and adjoining yards dressing stone. "Cook's Geological Report for 1881 " says, "There are four separate parties at work, although but three distinct quarries, as Robison's and Philips' are practically one. The workings move in a general westward direction, extending from within a few rods of the river road into the gently rising ridge. All of them descend below the tide level of the river. The overlying earth is glacial drift, containing much red sandstone, and in places imbedded sands and gravels. The strata of rock near the surface are generally much broken up, and yield small-sized stone only; as they are followed down the beds become more solid and of better quality. The descent or dip of the strata is towards the northwest, and at an angle of 10 to 12. One of the most interesting geological features is a fault, which can be traced across Joyce's, Robison's and Philips' quarries. It is beautifully exposed in Robison's, where the displacement amounts to five feet, and its dip is from 65 to 70 westerly. Its general course is North and South, or, more accurately, South 3 East (magnetic). The west side appears to have slipped down, as the corresponding beds on either side of it would indicate."

In working, all of these quarries move with the dip, hence the stone have to be raised up out of their beds, as there is no advantage of gravity. The stones, after being quarried, are hauled by teams to wharves on the river, whence they are loaded and shipped by boats to points of destination. Blocks of great size are quarried, and larger than can be conveniently handled. The United States census schedule returns from these quarries reported an aggregate product of 45,000 cubic yards, valued at $225,000, for the last half of 1879 and first half of 1880. The product for 1883-4 no doubt exceeds this total very considerably. The "Belleville stone" command a wide market and bring good prices. The light colored, grayish stone sell at one dollar per cubic foot, while the fine grained, reddish stone, suitable for rubbing, bring one dollar and fifty cents per foot. The new Mills building corner of Broad street and Exchange place, New York City, absorbed a large amount of stone quarried here during the years 1880 and '81.

Joyce's QUARRY Beginning at the south is that of William J. Joyce, the excavated area of whose quarry is over two acres, and has an average depth of over sixty feet. This quarry has been worked rather more into the hill or ridge than the others, and, at the present heading, is about ninety feet deep. The drift earth at the southwest side includes a number of thin layers of sand and gravel imbedded in the glacial unsorted mass. The phenomena of glacier action are plain in the glaciated ledges of sandstone, the striated and large boulders and the heterogeneous mixture of earth, pebbles and boulders. The thickness of this drift earth is, at most, twenty feet. On the west side there are about thirty feet of red, fine grained sandstone strata, which furnish considerable stone for foundations, walls, etc. As followed down they will, no doubt, become more solid and improve in quality. Under them there is a grayish sandstone in thick beds, and, at the bottom, a finer-grained red and reddish-colored stone is obtained, which can be rubbed and polished. The joints in this quarry run vertically, west and north. As the beds are very thick, stone of the largest size required can be quarried here. Blocks containing one thousand cubic feet have been broken out. Three steam derricks are used and a steam pump, all worked by one fifty-horse power engine. Stone from this quarry can be seen in Fort Lafayette, New York harbor ; Duncan & Sherman's banking house, New York ; Garden City Cathedral, and in many other like places.

ROBISON'S QUARRY. Cook's Geology of New Jersey. -The quarry of J. B. I. Robison is three hundred feet north of Joyce's, and constitutes, with the Philips' quarry, one opening which is over five hundred feet square in its extreme dimensions. The average depth is fifty feet, and the dip of the beds is 110 north, 45 west, and there is a well marked system of joints running vertical, south 85 west, while the other is not continuous throughout. The stripping varies considerably in the thickness; on the south side the beds are solid, quite to the drift, whereas, at the west, they are more broken up. Excepting one layer, which is three feet thick, there is no good building stone to be had in the sixty feet from the surface down. Under it, however, there are twenty feet of thick-bedded stone, the lower half of which is fine-grained and of superior quality for rubbing, and brings a high price. On the south the stripping does not exceed twenty feet. The strike of the strata in these quarries seems to prove that they are the same, that is, the quarries of Joyce and of Robison are working the same beds, although Mr. Robison thinks that he is working in a lower horizon. He reports also having sunk fourteen feet beneath the bottom of his quarry, or forty-nine feet below tide level, through shaly beds only, without finding any solid rock. Two engines are employed to work the derricks and do the pumping. As in the other quarries, large blocks are broken out, and then cut up into the desired forms for market. This quarry has been vigorously worked since 1880, and a large amount of stone has been taken out for the Newark, New York and Brooklyn market, besides the sales made in other places.

A. PHILIP & SONS' QUARRY. Cook's Geology of New Jersey. - As already mentioned, is in the same opening as that of Robison, and joins the latter on the north, and south of the Bloomfield Road; and the average thickness of the glacial drift is ten feet; then there are about ten feet of shaly beds, making a total of twenty feet of stripping. The dip is 10 to northwest, and the main joint has a course south, 85 west, vertical. There is at the west end a fine-grained, chocolate-colored stone; further east the stone is of a grayish shade, and varies from a coarse granular to a fine granular variety. As in the other quarries here, the gray stone contains fine grains of a whitish feldspar, distributed sparingly among the quartz. The mixture has a pleasing appearance, and the stone dresses easily and true, and the finer-grained variety can be rubbed. The strata worked by the Messrs. Philip are above those opened by Robison. One steam derrick and two steam pumps are in use, as there is a large amount of water issuing from the rocks at the west end. The stone for foun dation walls sells at twenty-five cents per cubic foot, and from that the price ranges upwards to two dollars for the finer grades, suitable for monumental work. In all these quarries malachite occurs near the east end and near the outcrops of the bed, in thin seams lying between the strata. Bituminous coal, in thin lavers, is also found; and coaly stems and impressions of leaves and trunks are occasionally found. Robison and Joyce both report finding large stems several inches in diameter.

BELLEVILLE STONE COMPANY Cook's Geology of New Jersey. -North of the Bloomfield road, and but a few rods from Philip's quarry, is the quarry opened by this Company in 1880, and work fairly begun in the summer of 1881, when a large amount of work was done in uncovering and stripping the upper inferior stone from the more solid and merchantable stone, as is found in the other quarries. The company fully developed and are satisfactorily working their quarry.

Newark Quarries. There are four stone quarries in the city of Newark, all located on the crest of the hill or ridge, west of Fifth Avenue, and near Bloomfield Avenue, and all within less than half a mile from the Passaic River, and the Erie, and Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad stations, and only one mile from the Pennsylvania and Central New Jersey depots. They are all favored by comparatively light stripping, little water, and a good thickness of excellent stone. The pleasing shades of color, evenness of grain and durability, as shown in old buildings in Newark and other cities, attest its value; and it commands a ready market. The rapidly increasing demand and value of the land for building sites, and the unsightliness of quarries in cities, will soon compel them to give way to the advancing city. The total product of these quarries, for 1881, was $120,000. The principal market for the stone is found in Newark and New York, while large quantities are sent to Albany, N. Y., New Haven, Conn., and Princeton, N. J., and other surrounding towns.

THE NEWARK QUARRY COMPANY, whose works are located on the south of the Avenue, is one of the oldest in the State. The working face, running from North to South, is over four hundred feet long, while the quarrying now moves westerly and southerly, and the stripping is used to fill the excavated area on the east, as all this ground is valuable for building sites. The stripping varies from ten to twenty feet thick, and appears to be rather less at the southwest, and work is being pushed in that direction. The order of the stratification in the west face of the quarry is approximately as follows:

1. Glacial Drift 12 ft.
2. Shaly rock, here termed "Callous," in which is workable strata 15 ft.
3. Shaly beds 1 to 4 ft.
4. Dark-colored red sandstone 6 ft.
5. Dark-colored red sandstone, varying in thickness 1 ft.
6. Light-colored sandstone in thick beds 8 to 15 ft.
7. Callous, very thin  
8. Dark-colored and harder stone 4 to 6 ft.

The dip is 5 north, 65 west, and the joints are very irregular, and no general direction is apparent in them. The stone of "6" in the section as given above, is most largely quarried, while the bottom rock is less used. Very little powder is used in quarrying here, and that in blowing down the top or stripping. Large sized blocks are obtained by wedging off, following the planes of joints and of bedding. A small steam pump, working only a part of the time, raises the water from the bed of the quarry, while a larger engine works the derricks for hoisting the stone. A large force of men are usually employed, and large quantities of stone quarried, which sell for an average price of seventy cents per cubic foot. The market for the stone is Newark, New York, New Haven, Albany, Princeton and other places.

WILLIAM A. RIGHTER'S QUARRY, Cook's Geological Reports. formerly worked by Robert Matches, and now worked by Philip Hoehnle, is on the northeast side of Bloomfield Avenue, and northeast of that of the Newark Quarry Company. The quarry is old, and the area worked over must be as much as seven hundred feet long, by three hundred feet wide, and the estimated contents are said to be 300,000 cubic yards. The lowest place in the quarry is over sixty feet. The approximate figures of the vertical sections are given as follows:

1. Glacial Drift 15 ft.
2. Stone in thick beds 12 ft.
3. Shaly beds 3 ft.
4. Thick bedded strata 12 ft.

W. D. PATTERSON'S QUARRY From Prof. G. H. Cook's Reports. was opened in 1880-1, and is on north side of Bloomfield Avenue, a few rods west of Righter's quarry, and the excavation only about fifty feet deep; the glacial drift is from five to eight feet thick ; then come shaly beds with some red sandstone, from ten to fifteen feet thick; next below is a drab-colored stone about twelve feet thick. The dip is 8 north, 60 west. The stone is uniform in texture, fine grained, and of a good color.

Orange. -BELL'S QUARRY Cook's Geological Reports. is in the eastern face of the First Mountain, in West Orange Township, about one mile from Orange City, and is worked by James Bell & Co., of Orange. The present quarry is south of the earlier ones opened here, and is about two hundred yards from the Orange and Northfield Turnpike. The excavated area measures over three hundred by seventy-five feet, and at the back of the quarry is over forty feet deep. The dip of the strata is about 15 west northwest, while the joints are north and south, and east and west. There is a fault traversing the quarry from north to south, and dipping steeply to the east, though the amount of displacement is only a few feet. The stripping consists of about ten feet of earth, about twenty feet of shaly beds, and the total thickness of the quarry bed is fourteen feet. The stone is of a reddish color, coarse grained, and dresses smooth. The quarry is so situated that there is no water to interfere with the working, thus lessening the expense of quarrying. The stones from this quarry are nearly all used in Orange and vicinity, and prices range from five cents a cubic foot for foundation stone, to ninety cents for cut stone for sills, etc. Stones from the old quarry in Llewellyn Park were quarried in 1867-8, for building St. John's Roman Catholic Church, in Orange.

O'ROURKE'S QUARRY. -The following sketch of Mr. John O'Rourke's quarry is from a letter of Prof. George H. Cook, published in the "Orange Journal" of Sept. 27, 1884:

The quarrying for trap-rock on the face of Orange Mountain has brought to view a most remarkable and interesting exposure of basaltic columns.

The workings have been extended along the mountain for seven hundred feet, and the face worked over is about thirty feet high at the ends, and in the middle it is nearly one hundred feet high. The whole of this surface is made up of columns of rock as perfect in form as if cut out by workmen and packed in as closely as the hexagonal cells in a honeycomb.

The columns are mostly six-sided, though there are some with only five sides, and those with still other numbers of sides are occasionally met with. Those at the two extremities of the quarry are perpendicular, and perhaps thirty feet high, while the higher portion in the middle is made up of columns which are more or less inclined, as if directed towards a central line.

The columns in the same part of the quarry are quite uniform in size and appearance, but those at the northeast end are much the largest, some of them being four feet across a single side ; those at the southwest are smaller, but still very large, being from two to two-and-a-half feet across the sides, while those in the middle are perhaps a foot or more in the same measurement.

These rocks rise to the very crest of the mountain, and make all of its higher and rougher parts, but underneath them is a great platform of red sandstone extending back and slanting downwards into the mountain. At the quarry this rock is only from four to eight feet below the working bottom, and these gigantic pillars seem to stand upon it.

The trap-rock is of igneous origin. It has been melted beneath the surface and then forced through fractures or between the inclined layers of the overlying rock out to the surface. The peculiar and characteris- tic structure of the rock has been developed in its cooling and solidification. The difference in the appearance of the rock structure in different parts of the quarry suggests the thought that the rock here has not all been forced out at once, but that it has come out in at least two or three successive eruptions.

The character and fine exposure of the rocks here make a suggestive subject of study for geologists and naturalists, and, as a natural curiosity, it is well worth a visit. And while most interesting geological phenomena are found in remote, uncleared and rough places, this is near to excellent roads, and the working of the quarry has cleared off all the loose rubbish from the surface and left the rock of the mountain clear and perfectly open to view.

It belongs to the same class of rocks, both in material and structure, with the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, but is on a much larger scale, as will be seen by comparing the dimensions given above, with the following, taken from a description of the noted curiosity of Ireland. which says: "In diameter the pillars vary from fifteen to twenty inches, and in height some are as much as twenty feet."

The quarry is reached by going up Mt. Pleasant Avenue till the foot of the steep part of the mountain is reached, and then turning off to the left in a wagon track, which leads into the quarry two hundred or three hundred feet.


NEW Brunswick, N. J., Sept. 24, 1884.

Mr. Toombs, editor of the Journal, has this to say of this natural geological curiosity:
The discovery of a remarkable exhibit of basaltic columns, on the Orange Mountain, is attracting wide attention, and it is indeed one of the greatest natural curiosities in the country. Visitors to Europe go out of their way many miles to view the Giant's Causeway, in Ireland, and this new discovery reveals a curiosity superior in the size of the columns and in beauty of formation.
Pleasant Valley. -F. W. SHRUMP'S QUARRY, Cook's Report, 1881. located between the First and Second Mountains, near the township line, between Caldwell and West Orange, also in the face of the Second Mountain, was opened in 1871, and about two acres have been worked over. At the northwest it is fifty-five feet deep, and at the top there is a sandy earth and then a shaly rock, in all, twelve to sixteen feet thick, which has to be removed to get at the workable beds. These are a grayish-colored, rather coarse-grained stone, in thick beds, and under them there is ten feet of red, fine-grained sandstone, suitable for rubbing and polishing. The same rock is in the bottom lead where the quarrying stops, and the same kind of rock is reported to have been met with in sinking a well thirty-five feet lower, at a house a few rods from the quarry. The dip is 10 westerly; the joints are clean, and one system, very regular and continuous, runs vertical, with 70 west ; the other at right angle to it, and also vertical, is not continuous throughout. By means of these divisional planes or backs and headers, the stone is easily quarried, and large sized blocks are obtained. Blocks thirty feet long, eleven-and-a-half feet wide and ten feet thick, have been taken out, and stone twelve feet six inches long, eight feet six inches wide, and two feet eight inches thick have been removed.

The hoisting and loading is done by a ten horse power engine working a derrick, when the stones are carted to the Morris Canal, two-and-half miles distant, and to the railroad at Montclair and Orange, points about equally distant. New York is the principal market, though much stone from this quarry has been been put into churches and other buildings in the vicinity. The Caldwell Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Church, in East Orange, and the additions to Grace Protestant Episcopal Church, are built of stone from this quarry. The prices range from ten cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents per cubic foot, according to quality.

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