Back in 1996, when I first moved to the Cleveland area and began my career with Cleveland Metroparks, the topic of sandstone always seemed to come up. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I ran across a program that a previous historical interpreter offered a few years earlier. The program was based on old quarry and mill towns that had vanished for one reason or another. My attention and responsibility was pulled elsewhere, but I always kept it in the back of my mind.
Then in 2001, I began researching each Cleveland Metroparks reservation for a new musical project. In searching for topics pertaining to Euclid Creek Reservation, I found that the south end of the reservation had old quarry sites. I began to explore the old picnic areas in Euclid Creek, like Rear Quarry Picnic Area, Kelley Picnic Area and Quarry Picnic Area. To my surprise, remnants of a substantial business were still evident in the exposed sandstone with metal rings and clasps attached, and drill grooves still visible in this blue-grayish stone. Deep depressions where the stone had been quarried had been filled in, but the rim of some of these massive holes were still evident. It was very clear this was no small homestead quarry, but possibly an industry that supported many families. My suspicions were proved correct with a little more research. Near the south end of the reservation was once a rowdy quarry town made up of Swedes, Italians, Scots and Irish called “Bluestone.” Wow, did I become excited.
In the late 1800s to the early 1900s, this town of 400 people supported a general store, post office, two saloons, a temperance hall, church, and many simple homes that housed the workers who quarried the bluestone that gave this town its name. To this day, you will still find Bluestone Road, where this little town was situated, in between Monticello Boulevard and Anderson Road off of Green Road in Cleveland.
Bluestone Quarry Workers
This Euclid bluestone is a very fine grained sandstone and is exposed primarily on the east and south sides of Cleveland. You will find it at the surface in Euclid Creek Reservation, Brecksville Reservation, Mill Creek Reservation and along Doan Brook at the Cleveland/Cleveland Heights border.
Euclid bluestone was first quarried commercially in 1867 by Duncan McFarland. Shortly after this business with his sons took off, other quarries were established throughout the South Euclid area, creating a booming industry for several decades.
Bluestone Finishing Mills
The quality of the stone was high. Euclid bluestone was known for its density and strength, which no doubt led to its success with sidewalks throughout Greater Cleveland and other cities between New York and Chicago. Because the stone’s characteristics, it split, cut and finished clean, it was sought after for exterior steps, windowsills, capstones, foundations, building trim, tombstones, fences, laundry tubs and even billiards tables.
However, as progress and time marched on, the demand for Euclid bluestone slowly diminished with the advent of concrete. For a time, Euclid bluestone was crushed and added to the concrete mix. It has most recently been used in rip rap for erosion control and decorative landscaping.
With my research, I wrote a song about the once thriving town, Bluestone. Take a listen! My hope is that you visit Euclid Creek Reservation and do a little studying of your own. It was exciting to learn that sandstone was much more than rock above or below the ground. It’s a touchstone to a rich past.