USA Adventures of Steve & Bronni 2008 travel blog























Day 170 Monday 29th September Hardwick Vermont Page 104 D6

Happy 32nd birthday to our darling Angela, we’re thinking of you.

Today we travelled on secondary roads as we made our way from New Hampshire to Vermont which gave us a snapshot of life in small towns in rural America. It doesn’t make much difference where you travel in the USA, they out do any European towns for the number of churches they have. There is a minimum of 3-4 churches in most towns. For example in Barre VT, there were 4 churches at one intersection. Vermont has also put a great display of colour for us.

Dave G, you would have been pleased to know that the admirers of Burns in Barre erected a granite statue to commemorate the centenary of Burns.

Barre is the granite capital of the USA; the company’s name is “Rock of Ages”. They have been cutting granite from an open cut quarry for more than 150 years and have enough top quality granite to last them for the next 4,700 years. You might say that is good job security. The grey granite that is quarried here supplies most of the USA requirements for headstones, statues and commercial needs. On the tour we were taken to the quarry and could see where they have excavated. It is a massive operation; the face of the quarry is 600 feet deep. Their current method to extract granite slabs is to drill each piece out; from the top of the rock they drill holes around the perimeter of the piece and to release it from the base, they drill holes horizontally and then use explosives for the final break. The lump of granite is then hoisted by a very large crane (derricks) that can lift up to 250 tons and the 600 feet to get it to the top of the quarry.

On return to the visitors centre, we were able to go into the factory, and from an elevated viewing position, could see the various stages of production. The slabs of granite are cut by a “band saw” with the blade being a wire that is impregnated with diamond (dust). On the hardness scale, Diamond is 10, granite is 7 and marble is 3. To make the occasion memorable, I was able (for $10) to sand blast a piece of granite. The method used is to polish a piece of granite, then you stick a rubberised template to the polished surface, then you blast it with a sand gun which cuts away the polished surface and exposing the original granite. The portion that you want to leave polished is protected by the rubberised template. This same method is used on the factory floor to produce the headstones for graves. To get a great display of the company’s work we went to the local cemetery and see the variety of headstones, statues and mausoleums. Some of the headstones were quite unique, a soccer ball, racing car, even a bi-plane all carved from granite of course.

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