Preserving The Memories Of Mankind
For thousands of years, mankind has turned to granite to build its most important structures. From the famed ancient Greeks to the legendary Egyptian societies to modern cultures across the globe, men have trusted the staying power of granite to keep their ideals alive. While no complete historical inventory of granite structures exists, of course, it is likely that most granite art has been done for memorial purposes, and it is equally likely that most of the memorials ever built have been made from granite. So some brief, interesting facts about this legendary material used for granite memorials seems in order.
Granite in the United States today comes from quarries across the globe: Norway, Zimbabwe, India, and even Manitoba, Canada. But those Americans who are concerned about potentially too much importing of goods to the United States, can take comfort. It appears that the vast majority of granite produced for granite memorials in the United States today comes right from our own back yard, so to speak. There are many qualities of granite stone that play a major role in deciding which type of granite will be used for a project – whether its a memorial building or simply a cemetery headstone – but luckily, quarries close to home offer some of the most popular selections in the memorial industry to date for almost any purpose. The cities of Rockville Minnesota, St. Cloud Minnesota, Fredericksburg, Texas Marble Falls, Texas, Raymond California and Milbank, South Dakota and Barre, Vermont all are the proud homes of granite quarries that have been famously sending the material out for years. And geologists tell us that none of these locations are in danger of running dry. Barre, for example, is said to have a granite supply of at least 4,500 years buried beneath its rich, majestic soil. And that’s just one city’s quarries!
Most of the granite quarries in the United States are certainly sources of civic pride for their communities. Various granite memorials in Washington D.C. – and even portions of the White House and Capital – contain granite carefully selected from a number of different regions of the nation, and cities that play host to the quarries are all eager to let the world know that granite from their part of the country is on display on such historic sites. Likewise, some of the granite quarries are useful for tourist promotion: Marble Falls, for example, boasts its famous Granite Mountain quarry – home of the legendary “Texas Pink” granite. While the quarry is not open for public tours, it is visible from a distance from a number of public observation decks that have proven popular enough to sprout a few Granite Mountain Souvenir shops throughout town. The city of St. Cloud, also, has recently begun promoting its granite history with a new slogan “Granite Country USA” that can be found throughout the city.
But perhaps the best known granite city in the United States is Barre. That quaint village’s signature “Barre Grey” granite is arguably one of the most famous and sought after granite colors available today. Since the 1700’s, Barre’s easy access to almost unlimitless amounts of granite has inspire sculptors and architects from around the world to set up shop nearby. And creativity of this artist’s culture continues to abound. Barre’s Hope Cemetery is filled with an amazing variety of granite memorial headstones that are good enough to attract tourists year in and year out. Every summer and fall, visitors from across New England and the country pile into tour busses and head to Barre to see the acres and acres of monuments devoted to the town’s past residents (the cemetery has everything from sculptures of life-sized race cars to full-sized sofas and, of course, plenty of just plain creative abstract granite designs).
And, if a tour of the cemetery isn’t enough to whet the appetite of the granite enthusiast in America, Barre is home to the National Granite Museum, a spot that may be well worth a visit for anyone wanting ideas for how to create the perfect memorial.