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When marble was king

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Vermont Marble Company was considered the largest U.S. corporation in the world. Marble products were being made from outcrop marble in Rutland County as early as 1785. The company was founded in 1880 by businessman and politician Redfield Proctor (featured in last weeks Tribune). He served as the company's first president. Marble was quarried from several locations in the town of Proctor, then called Sutherland Falls, and the surrounding communities of Rutland, West Rutland and Danby. As railroads arrived in Rutland and Proctor, the Vermont Marble company became one of the largest producers of marble in the world. The company contributed marble to the Washington Monument, U.S. Supreme Court building, Arlington National Cemetery, and Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The surrounding town was named after Proctor and became a company town. The buildings and quarries of the Vermont Marble Company are now owned by OMYA, a European-based supplier of industrial minerals. The first commercial quarry was opened in Dorsetthe first quarry in Vermont, and believed to be the first in North America. A valuable American natural resource, Vermont marble products of all kinds are now found around the world; it has been quarried, carved, otherwise prepared and shipped for hundreds of applications in Vermont by immigrants. Located in Proctor, the Vermont Marble Museum provides a reference point to study Vermonts mining past. The museums historical exhibits include early photographs, samples of many products and it is rich with information about the evolution of Rutland Countys marble industry. Visitors can learn about owners, investors, innovators and the hard-working European people that quarried and moved huge rock slabs here. Only a quarter-mile stroll from the museum parking lot, visitors can explore the original Vermont Marble quarry. Set in the center of town, its a scenic place for a picnic, or as a walking destination to enjoy nature. The locale offers a glimpse into a 19th-century quarry scene complete with an antique quarry stick (crane). The drop from the cliff top to the quarrys spring-fed, blue-green pool below is over 150 feet. The old quarry was reopened for visitors in April 2003 with the creation of a scenic walkway to the quarry and installation of safety features. Sources: The Vermont Marble Museum, OMYA, USGS and the Philadelphia Museum.

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