Northwestern - Ron Bailey

The Colorado Yule Marble Quarry sits at 9,000' above sea level, the remnants of an ancient sea and holds the purest, whitest marble in the world.  Fish bones and shells from an era long ago, volcanically transformed into the most coveted stone of our age.

This image was made from nearly 13,000' and gives a bird's eye view of the openings in the mountain.  Portal #1, the small portal in the lower right, was blasted open in 1990 when the quarry reopened after having been shut down since the beginning of WWII.  Modern quarrying methods dictated that trucks and large machinery would now move the marble and this access portal was needed to transport the stone.

Directly above is Portal #2 and was more than likely the very first opening in the mountain.  No marble was ever brought out of the portal, as it has a very small opening into the mountain.

To the left is Portal #3 where most of the Lincoln Memorial blocks and the Tomb of The Unknowns were lifted out and transported to the old marble finishing mill by electric trolley, four miles down the mountain.

Moving again to the left is Portal #4.  From the ceiling just inside this portal to the floor below is about 400'.  A great deal of the Lincoln Memorial column drums were quarried inside this opening.

On the far left of the formation and at the site of the white 'mark' on the mountain side is the beginning of the first new opening (or quarry) in over 100 years.  It is called The Lincoln Gallery in honor of Abraham Lincoln.  The first cut on this new gallery was made in 2012.

The two images above were made at a point about 150' inside the quarry as you come into Portal #1.

We are looking at the light splashing over Portal #3.  We can see the light beams, thanks to the marble dust and diesel smoke in the air.  If not for that, the view would look like the image on the right, exposed for the light to bring everything else into shadow, allowing the light to speak for itself.  In this image, I am facing the entrance of the quarry, with Portal #4 at my back, just a flip-flop of the view in the image to the left.

The walls of the quarry have been stained by smoke from barrel fires that quarry workers kept lit to keep warm over the course of 100 years, soot from the old blacksmith shop that was directly under Portal #2, and diesel smoke from modern machines.  Otherwise, the walls would be brilliant white.

The large beam of wood at the top of the image has been in place since before 1910.

The Tomb of The Unknowns was lifted up and out of Portal #3, in 1931, leaving visible scars where the massive derrick leaned against the upper wall under the extreme weight of the raw block as it was extracted.

We have passed beyond Portal #3 and are standing in the large area under Portal #4, looking at the Electric Pillar, so called because when electricity was first brought inside in 1990, this was the point where the transformers were placed.

The pillar also serves a more important purpose.  Without it, the quarry would collapse.  This type of quarry is a 'room and pillar' quarry, with pillars about every 100 feet or so to keep everything where it should be.

The sunlight spills over Portal #4, striking the Electric Pillar.

The small opening you see in the upper middle was made in the early days of the quarry, when the floor was at that height.  Portals 3 and 4 were in operation and this was the way to connect the two openings. 

The longest wire saw in the history of the quarry was used here to cut the massive tunnel, which was over 100 feet long.  Simple, twisted wire was continually run on the surface of the marble with grit, sand and grease doing the cutting.  The ceiling of the quarry is permanently stained by the grease.

We are now standing on the emergency escape staircase, directly below Portal #4.  The exit is needed in case a cave-in blocks the path to Portal #1.

Once again, the sun strikes the pillar and illuminates this area of the quarry.  The colors change with the movement of the light throughout the day.

The Tomb of The Unknowns was cut from this large room over 80 years ago.  Find the two men in the lower left of the image and then go directly up until just before the discolored wall angles toward the light.  This was the level of the quarry floor in 1931 and is the exact location of the original Tomb block.

This vein of marble provided several enormous blocks for the column drums on the Lincoln Memorial.  It continues at about a 54-degree angle into 'A' section, the location where your marble was obtained.

We are standing very close to the position of the two men in the previous image and looking to their right, into 'A' section.  This was opened in 1990 and has been expanded to follow the vein of marble that held the Tomb and Lincoln Memorial blocks.  In this room, within the same vein, your marble was found.

The section you are looking at is called the Keyhole.  This is the only active section in the Old Quarry and your marble may very well be the last extracted from here.

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