Sunday, March 24, 2013

Extracting Wealth Part Two - Slate

The Brownville Junction Slate Mine - click to enlarge
Photo: Penobscot Marine Museum via
  From 1880-1905 Maine was one of the five top producers of slate in the Country.  The last company closed operations in the late 1990s.  The roof of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, the memorial stone for John F. Kennedy and the headstone for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are made from slate mined in Monson.  Many homes and commercial buildings built during the 1880-1910 period have slate roofs still on and good today.
  When we lived in Medford our hearth for the wood stove and the walkway were slate.  A couple of times we visited the "reject heap" in Brownville Junction to pick up some spare pieces.  At craft show around Maine, and probably other places, many decorated slate roof shingles are sold.
  It was dangerous work, like granite work, open pits or quarries, no support for surrounding "walls", see the top photo.  OSHA didn't exist so many occupations were dangerous.
Man riding the hoist bucket in Monson c1880 - click to enlarge
Photo: Monson Historical Society via
Workers in the Monson finishing shop c1905 - click to enlarge
Photo: Monson Historical Society via

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