The Barney Marble Mill was a big, useful factory
in Swanton, Vermont. It was a factory that was established in
the early 1800's by George Barney. It remained in business for
many years and was an important part of Swanton. It continues
to hold a special place in the Swanton community.
The marble mill was a difficult business in
the early years. Marble is extremely hard and heavy and is difficult
to cut. The industry did not have equipment to quarry the marble
which made it tough. During this time the most popular marble
was the White Dove. The marble was used locally because they had
no equipment to ship the marble out. In the early days, this marble
was used for gravestones, marble shelves, counter tops, etc..
In 1823 the Barge Canal was built. This allowed a great amount
of marble to be shipped to New York City by Lake Champlain. This
shows the challenges that the mill went through in the early years.
The mill would not have had the opportunity
of distributing marble if it wasn't for what occurred 500 million
years ago. Vermont was under water, which was the ocean, and it
eroded sedimentary rocks, especially marble. The marble that was
found in Swanton came from changes in pressure and temperature.
Marble is a soft rock. There are 2 different types of marble.
They are dolomite and calcite. Calcite is made up of calcium and
magneisus which causes it to fizz without powder and only hydrochloric
acid, otherwise vinegar. Dolomite is found in Swanton and fizzes
with only powder which you get by scratching the marble then putting
hydrochloric acid otherwise known as vinegar on it, This shows
how important the marble was to the industry.
The marble mill business was a big business
for Swanton and took a great deal of hard work. The main places
the marble was quarried was on Route 7, Isle Lamotte, and in Canada.
They had to use jackhammers to cut out huge blocks of marble.
Each of these blocks weighed about 10 tons. Then the blocks would
be put into a wagon pulled by 10 horses. Once the block was in
the yard, they had flat cars in 3 bays to place the marble.
In 1932 the marble mill was hit hard. This was
during the Great Depression. Marble is very expensive and people
couldn't afford it back then. The mill finally closed in 1938
after 6 hard years. The marble business in Swanton was strong
from 1850- 1930.
Even though the marble mill is no longer running,
it is still a very important piece of Swanton's community. Swanton
school students are able to visit the quarry, which once supplied
the marble mill.