We stopped for a break and a cup of coffee at the Quik Mart in Redgranite, Wisconsin. A local farmer began a conversation and asked if we had seen their quarry.
A little town at the location was called Sand Prairie until the discovery or a large deposit of red granite in the 1880s caused a boom that brought miners from as far away as Europe. The Post Office name was changed to Redgranite in 1895. The granite was used for paving blocks in Chicago. By the 1920, as with many mines, it eventually became uneconomical. The chief reason was concrete and asphalt began to be used for streets and highways.
The local economy suffered for many years until 1999 with the construction of the Redgranite Correctional Institution, a medium security prison.
We found the quarry behind the Post Office. It was interesting, but we found it far more interesting to talk to the farmer and his wife who followed us there. Now retired, he leased out his land to grow soybeans and corn. He once grew peas and other vegetables. I asked him why he quit. His reply was “when did you last see peas on the menu at McDonalds?” We like peas, but I am sure the economy of scale is not there for large farms.
Continuing down the road, we found a much prettier park in Montello. A family operated a red granite quarry there for four generations. Its hard fine-grained stone was also used for grave markers and was chosen for President U.S. Grant’s sarcophagus in New York City. The family sold the quarry to a man named Daggett who sold off parts of the land and endowed a park complete with artificial waterfalls.
It is unlikely we would suggest you go out of your way to Redgranite, but we enjoyed our talk with the farmer and his wife. Had he not spoken to me at the gas station, we would have never seen the red granite quarries either there or in Montello.
After a few days more, I found myself looking for the polished red granite tombstones in cemeteries. I mentioned it to Alie and she said she was doing the same thing.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Date of our visit: 28 Oct 21