Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Workday Wednesday: the Portland Quarries

   If you travel enough in Connecticut, you'll soon discover a plethora of brownstone buildings. Most of that brownstone came from quarries in Portland. First dug in the late 17th centuries, the quarries were increasingly used in the 19th century. Stone was shipped as far as Boston and New York - quite a distance for a fragile material. Production reached its peak in the late 1880s with over 1500 people working the property. By the early 1900s, brownstone was losing ground to concrete. The 1938 flood filled the quarries and ended production in Portland.
   If you have a Polish or Italian ancestor who lived in the Middletown area, consider learning about the quarries. Many immigrants were recruited because of their stone carving skill and made a respectable living onsite. Their desire for community built many of the institutions in Portland and Middletown. A detailed history of the quarry is available at http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/content/cptv/portland-brownstone-quarry-stories-part-i.  The website wasn't functionally well for me, but the detail made it worth the wait. 

Sources:
http://www.portlandct.org/pdf/history/ThePortlandQuarries.pdf

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