Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Brownhelm Township Quarry Article – June 1956

Here's an interesting article from the Lorain Journal of June 20, 1956 about a fascinating topic. It's about an old, abandoned quarry located off Claus Road in Brownhelm Township. The well-written article is by Ruby Totten.

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Deserted Quarry Lies Hidden Off Claus Road
By RUBY TOTTEN

OLD QUARRY – These youngsters gaze enthralled out over the deep
still pond that covers what was once the scene of a thriving sandstone
quarry off Cooper Foster Road in Brownhelm Township. The pond, fed
by springs, is 85 feet deep.
Thousands of persons have passed by the lonely but picturesque ruins just off Claus Road on Cooper Foster Park Road without realizing that here was once a hustling, bustling industry.

Four sandstone buildings are visible from the road, but only one is still intact and this one nestled into the hills in a picture-postcard setting gives little hint as to what it once was – a mule barn for thriving quarry workers.

THE QUARRY is back of the buildings, hidden by hills and trees. This now serene area once echoed to the sound of mule driven wagons creaking with the weight of their stone cargo, and the ring of sledge hammer against rock as sweating laborers pried the valuable element from Mother Nature's grasp.

Brownhelm Station, now a sleepy little hamlet, was then a lusty, flourishing community center. It not only boasted a depot but six or seven saloons which catered to the giant thirst of stalwart Irishmen and brawny Scots who worked and drank with equal gusto.

THESE WORKERS were imported to America for the specific purpose of working in the quarries. The owner made a trip to Scotland and Ireland, bringing back the burly lads who were to live and work here for the rest of their lives and leave their descendants thruout Northern Ohio.

They formed a settlement which later became known as "The Patch," a term affectionately used for predominantly Irish settlements.

The quarry land is now owned by James Daley whose grandfather worked in the quarries and who died because of it, contacting deadly silicosis from the deadly dust in the quarries. Daley's father leased one of the company homes across the road from the workings and Daley, his brothers and a sister grew up there.

Now Mr. and Mrs. Daley own a lovely rambling modern home on the north side of the road, a home they built themselves using the stone from the quarries. Their backyard is the wildly beautiful, deep valleyed and bluff-dotted quarry workings, now tranquil except for a bird's twittering or the plunk of a fish in the quarry pond. The pond is the reason for the silence in the quarry. When the workings got so deep natural springs took over and work was abandoned. This was estimated to have been around 1876.

IN THE LARGEST quarry, 85 feet deep, a fresh water pond about 100 feet across now stands. Lush green growth extends down to the waters edge and makes this appear almost a work of nature instead of man. Nearby is a smaller, narrow pond lapping at the base of a stone bluff rearing about 85 feet into the air showing the industriousness of those early stone masons.

A deep valley with giant trees, and great mounds of discarded stone now overgrown, combine with the quarries to make this a rare and enchanting spot.

ONCE A TRIM RESIDENCE – The owners of the old quarries had this
sandstone home built for him and his family just east of the quarry
workings. Its walls are 24 inches thick and oldtimers remember it as a
showcase of the area.
Unfortunately there have been some who haven't been so impressed by it. In the 14 years the Daley family has owned the property there have been incidents of such incredible vandalism that they have been forced to close the area to all but friends and acquaintances.
IN ONE INSTANCE, a partially finished cabin was smashed to bits, and the steel window frames bent double. In another case, a stone barbecue pit for picnickers was torn apart.

Now the Daley's are planning to sell plots of the property fronting Cooper Foster Road for residences. On one of these plots are the ruins of the home built for the quarry owner. There appears to be some controversy over whether this was John Worthington or James Nickles.

The Daleys believe it was the home of Nickles but some old timers believe it was built for Worthington. Both men owned it at one time succeeding an individual by the name of J. Dolton.

Nickles was the latest owner, eventually merging the workings with the Cleveland Stone Company. This later became the Cleveland Quarries from whom the Daley's bought the property.

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For more information about the Brownhelm quarry, here's the link to the Quarry Story page on the Amherst Historical Society website.

6 comments:

Rick Kurish said...

I remember those abandoned buildings well from when I was a kid in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time all but one ( the one that the article indicates housed mules) were roofless skeletons of sandstone blocks. I always thought they were quarry buildings of some type -- I wasn't aware at least one was a house. Sometime in the 1970s I stopped and took some slide photos of the buildings. I'll have to see if I can find the slides and convert them to photos. In the 1960s near that location you could still find remnants of the right of way for the old narrow gauge railway that transported the stone from the quarries to the dock at Oak Point.

About 25 years ago I was talking to an old Amherst resident who told me a neat story of the old railway route. Briefly, sometime circa 1930, he and a date had ridden his motorcycle to Crystal Beach Amusement Park and were on their way home when the motorcycle broke down near Oak Point. He left his motorcycle in the care of a nearby farmer, and he and his girlfriend walked the abandoned rail line back to Amherst, near Milan Avenue where the girl lived. He recovered his motorcycle a few days later. Unfortunately, I neglected to ask him about whether he had a future with the girl. I would guess that to be about a 4 mile walk.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for posting that, Rick! I was hoping that someone would remember those ruins and leave a comment!

Anonymous said...

Dan, Check these 2 parcels on Lorain County Auditors web site.

The James Daley home now belongs to Ron Daley parcel 0100028103024

The quarry site was owned by Ron Daley but he sold it in 2004, and it just sold again on JUNE 3 2015 parcel 0100027000055

Thanks for your wonderful blog Bill N

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for researching those parcels, Bill! I'l check it out.

Wireless.Phil said...

I onky swam in one of the quarries once, many years ago. Wouldn't know how to get back there now.

BinkyDog said...

I lived next door to the Daley's for most of my life and I was best friends with Heather Daley. We would spend most of our summer months exploring the quarry and finding "caves" that had been made from the fallen slabs of sandstone. We would swing from the giant vines that grew in the trees always hoping that we didn't choose one that wasn't really attached to something sturdy! Our houses also derived our water from the spring fed quarry hole. As young kids we were under the impression that there was no bottom to that hole! I have so many fond memories of living in that neighborhood. I took my daughter by my old house this past summer so that she could see for herself. I wonder who owns it now and what they plan to do with it? My inner romantic hopes that it remains the wild and wonderful place I remember. Thanks for the memories! ; )