Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Bit Of History, Natural And Otherwise


At the dig where I’ve been getting loads of mostly red clay, I’ve noticed a lack of sedimentary layers in the soil like I’m accustomed to seeing when the land is ripped up. There, things seem pretty well homogenous, with occasional pockets of soil being more sandy or loamy, or of a different color. The stone in the hillside seemed jumbled, also, rather than layered like I usually see. Things began to make sense when the track-hoe brought up a big grindstone.

The grindstone appeared to be about forty inches across and five inches thick. It looked as if it was completed, including the square hole through the center. It surely must have had a flaw on the other side, or it wouldn’t have been left there. It was scarred rather badly by the track-hoe, but I was still tempted to ask if they were going to save it and ask for it if they weren’t. But I had no idea how I’d get it home, so I didn’t ask. It eventually disappeared, either to someone’s home or as fill under a yet-to-be-built warehouse. Later, a second one about 30 inches across and eight inches thick was found. It, too, was scarred badly by its removal with the machine. It was much less finished, but the square hole through the center was perfect. It’s currently sitting on a ridge of “topsoil” at the lower edge of the dig. You see, we were apparently digging through a site that had already been dug through years before, when the area had many grindstone quarries.

One of the drivers was told by a local that the quarry operators hadn’t only dug through the area some hundred years or so ago, but had blasted, as well. I guess that would explain the lack of layers in the soil. The grindstone industry was mostly brought to a close by the increased use of sanding belts and man-made abrasives, like aluminum oxide.

At a second site 250 yards or so away the layers remain in the soil. There a layer of blue shale appeared, looking almost turquoise in hue. Also appearing was a foot-thick layer of iron ore, followed by a six-inch seam of low-grade coal. All now serve as fill for the coming warehouse.

At the first site, an oil well sits beside a power-pole and is pumped occasionally by a “nodding donkey” with an electric motor, rather than a gas engine, as in back-road locations. Also, the red clay there appears to be the type used for the hard red bricks of the old days, back when bricks were made properly, rather than being extruded junk, like they make now.

It seems to me the Lord has blessed us with much usable material in this area. It’s a shame we don’t make better use of it. © 2014


Keith H. Burgess said...

Interesting, good post. Thank you Gorges.
Regards, Keith.

Chickenmom said...

It's amazing what Hubby finds when digging up tree roots with the backhoe. Lots of rocks of course, but also arrow and axe heads. Makes you wonder who lived on the land so long ago.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

They must have cut that square hole in the stone first so that they could turn it while finishing the stone. Probably had some kind of saws to cut. At least that is how they did soap stone around here. The black smiths have a hard time getting coal here even though train loads pass through, they would have liked to have that coal that was wasted.

Pumice said...

I wonder how long it took to develop the knowledge to decide what kind of stone to use for grinding and if the knowledge is still available anywhere. We make a big deal about the amount of new knowledge accumulating but overlook that which is being lost.

Grace and peace.

Gorges Smythe said...

You're welcome, Keith; glad you enjoyed it.

Wouldn't it be interesting to know their stories, Cm?

Maybe not, SF, it takes pretty good quality to forge with, I've heard.

Lady Locust said...

Always amazed by what we don't see. There is so much that was 'covered-up and forgotten.'

Gorges Smythe said...

Amen to that, LL. It amazes me the history that is forgotten or ignored.