The Middlefield Soapstone Quarry, after reading about it for years and alot of bushwacking…..the main cut is at least 100 feet deep, and then becomes shallow and continues to another smaller quarry. Quarry workers inscriptions as well as more recent ones were found on a cut wall.
The history of the Town of Middlefield (Smith and Smith) “About the beginning of the century a large deposit of fine quality soapstone was discovered at the top of Smith Hollow Hill on the land owned by William Inghan and William Skinner Jr. The property was purchased by Barnabas Billings who sold it to three Northampton men by the name of Shepard…. The Middlefield Free Stone Corporation was formed, the members of which were Boston man who had purchased the property of the Shepards for $10,000. The stone was quarried and shipped in a rough state to the metropolis where it was manufactured into the different materials for building. The annual amount of this business in 1813 is reported as $12,000. During this year, however, the company seems to have been in financial difficulties as the directors petitioned the General Court for permission to conduct a lottery to raise additional funds for carrying on the work.
“The quarrying of this stone was made possible only by the construction of the county road from Chester to West Worthington through Smith Hollow in 1811. This road furnished a comparatively level route through Huntington and Westfield to Hartford where the soapstone was undoubtedly shipped to Boston by water.”
“Some local use vas made of the soapstone for door steps and fireplaces la the old homesteads, but this was negligible. Nothing further is heard of the operations of the Free Stone Corporation, and the enterprise was apparently abandoned soon after the war of 1812, when the treasurer, Alden Bradford was
empowered to sell all rights and title to this land to Asa and Oliver Smith of Smith Hollow”……
“The coming of the railroad brought about a revival of the activity in quarrying soapstone. In 1853 the quarries at the top of Smith hollow Bill were taken over by the Metropolitan Soapstone Company of New York City, which was incorporated with a capital of $200,000, a aum which was soon increased to $300,000. Two mills were established for saving the stone into slabs which were used either for fire stones for furnaces or for facing buildings. Some of the stone was also ground to powder to be used with oil as a lubricant or as a basis of soap to remove grease from cloth. In 1853 1,000 tons vere quarried and shipped to the New York yard of the company where it brought about $12 a ton. The following year the output was increased to 1,200 tons, requiring a maximum of forty and to carry on the work. The distance of the quarry from the railroad station and the steep hills between eventually caused the expense to exceed the returns and the operations were brought to an end by the time of the Civil War”. #worthingtonma #hikethehilltownhistory
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