Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Redohl’

As a freelance writer, I love unusual assignments, like the one I received from Sarah Redohl of the Columbia Business Times. She wanted me to find the origins of the rock and stone so visible in Columbia’s buildings.

Seemed simple. How hard can it be to find a hole in the ground that produced enough rock for much of the University of Missouri’s White Campus as well as many fine homes along the older parts of Columbia?

So much for simple. Until 1971, Missouri quarries were barely regulated. People could open one — and close one — without much left in the way of documentation. Old maps didn’t help much. Old documents simply referred to the quarry south of town. How south? Where was town when that 1906 document referred to south of town? As the town grew, so did south of town, of course.

But shoe leather and research helped me find tales and documentation on past quarries and nearly forgotten industries, including Columbia’s brickworks. We used to have eight of them, the most recent one closed in 1984. I talked the remaining owner of that firm, Liz Kennedy, who was kind enough to show me the brick samples she kept in her backyard. She told me her family’s company furnished the brick for much of the MU campus, many for buildings now fated to be demolished and replaced. Soon that legacy of local brick could be lost as well.

Except for this article and this reporting.

The Rock that Built Us –Doug Mertens of Mid-Missouri Limestone fights the image of quarries as dirty, dangerous places. Instead, he says they’re essential to life as we know it today, supplying not just building materials, but the necessities for infrastructure from streets to sewer drainage. At one time, Columbia, Missouri boasted 30 quarries and eight brickworks. Today, many of those quarries are forgotten, built on or around. Today, one is part of a local park, another is the behind a university building. The history of Boone County’s quarries translates into the stone and brick buildings that still stand today.

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