Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17 – To Barre, Vermont and Rock of Ages

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Since we couldn’t extend our stay in Burlington we made the short hop down the interstate to Barre.


I have no idea why this set of whale tails was beside the highway.


Once we left the interstate we went down a very steep hill that will be murder to go back up when we leave. Once at the bottom, this narrow road went back up the other side. The RV had to downshift into its lowest gear and with the engine screaming we made about 10 mph up the hill.


We were all setup in the Lazy Lion Campground by noon.


I had read in other blogs that an interesting thing to do was to take a tour of the Rock of Ages factory. It is just around the corner from the campground. They quarry the granite and are mainly famous for their headstones but also make architectural granite pieces for building and monuments.


There is no real tour. You can watch a movie at the visitors center (and gift shop, of course) and then go into the factory and watch the shop floor from a viewing gallery.


This section made the architectural pieces and the larger memorial items such as mausoleums.





The middle section was where they did the lettering on the headstones.


Each block comes with a computer drawn rubber stencil that must be glued on and then the letters removed by hand.




Then they roll them into these booths and hand sandblast all the unprotected areas.


Out the other side they paint the letters if required.


And then this guy removes the stencil and power washes the headstone.



Final inspection and then off for shipping.


I am not sure what the lead time is but I saw one go by with a date of Oct 2012.

Outside they had a granite bowling alley that they tried to create a market for but they never could replace the traditional wood lanes. I was hoping for a granite bowling ball but it was just foam rubber.




After memorial day they run bus tours out to the quarry. Before that, if there are enough people, you can follow a guide out in your own car. We were in luck so off we went.

The guide said this vein of granite is 4 miles wide by 6 miles long by 10 miles deep. They only use the blocks that have no cracks.


They use the derricks to move the blocks of granite and the workers around the pit.



The method of carving the blocks has recently changed. They used to drill many holes and then blast the rest of the line away with primer cord. Now they use a huge band saw with a diamond grit blade and then insert a rubber bladder which they inflate to separate the blocks. You can see the difference in smoothness below.


This is the band saw.


The guide said that one Friday a month, at the end of the shift, someone has to climb to the top of the derrick to lubricate the pulleys. Today was the day. I just love the zoom on this camera.


Here he is at the top. Notice what looks like his safety harness hanging from his waist.


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