Friday, December 01, 2006

Concrete and steel demand pushed out a need for Red Rock Canyon quarries

RED ROCK QUARRY: Can you tell me about the old rock quarry located in Red Rocks Open Space? What years was it operational? Where were the rock slabs used?
- James

ANSWER: The city’s Trails and Open Space page offers this history for the quarries and a mill at Red Rock Canyon Open Space:
"During the late 1800s the property provided many building supplies for Old Colorado City and the surrounding communities. Material taken from the quarries included gypsum, building sand and sandstone blocks. The Kenmuir Quarry, mined during this time, was open seven days a week due to demand. Declining demand for stone and increased demand for concrete and steel forced the quarry to close in the early part of the 20th Century. Opening in 1886, the Colorado-Philadelphia Company Mill used the land to refine the ore shipped by train from the gold mines in Cripple Creek. It was the largest mill of its kind in the United States, until the new Golden Cycle Mill (near what is now 21st Street)was built in the early part of the 1900s.”

A history compiled for The Molly Brown House in Denver noted that the quarry produced what the building trades called “Manitou sandstone” and the red-orange stone was sent by the railroad that ran through the canyon to be used for buildings in Denver and nationwide. “These quarries, which date back to the 1870s, were known at one time as the Kenmuir quarries ... and later became known as the Greenlee and Snider quarries.”

In his book “In Red Rock Canyon Land,” John Bock wrote about the busy building boom days and the gold-rush “bubble” that brought $600 million in ore from the gold camps to the canyon’s mill. Then the bubble burst and building stopped. Said Bock, a telegram came into the Greenlee company: “Cancel contract. No demand for stone. Close down.” The owner “let out a sigh, ‘Close down the quarry!’”

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