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Transporting Stone



One of critical aspects of any stone quarrying operation whether a small boulder quarry in a farm field for local building purposes or a large deep pit commercial operations, was the ability to transport the quarried stone to the building site. This page explorers the different types of transportation used to move the stones.


Stone Boats

Carts & Wagons



Farm Stone Boat Circa 1890-1920


Types of Stone Quarries

Stone Quarry Tools

Quarry Tool Gallery

Stone Splitting Methods

Hoisting Stone

Transporting Stone

Sawing Stone

Osgood Graphite Mine

Historic Articles on Quarrying

Stone BoatsFarm Stone Boat Circa 1890-1920

Stone Boats or Stone Sledges were heavy duty toboggan like drags pulled by horse or oxen. They were used to move heavy loads like stones and stumps. They were a common piece of farm equipment. Stone boats worked most effectively over dry solid ground or packed snow. Many stone removal and farm quarrying operations occurred in the fall & winter when the harvest was over and the ground frozen. Surviving examples of stone boats are rare. The example in these photographs dates from circa 1890-1920 and is in the collection of the Windsor Historical Society (Maine).

Stone Board Circa 1890-1920 

(Above) Close-up of the construction of the front bow
of stone boat. Note the two blocks of wood use to repair
weak points in the sled

Carts & Wagons

The commercial quarry operations employed both two wheeled and four wheeled carts and wagons to transport the quarry blocks from the quarry to the cutting sheds or the construction site. Many of these were simply heavy duty versions of the typical carts and wagons used on farms. These carts and wagons all required the stone slabs to be lifted and placed on cart or wagon. To avoid this extra step, some commercial quarry operations developed special wagons which could lift the slab off the ground by itself and transport the slab by carrying it under the carriage of the wagon. There were both two wheel and four wheel versions. One of the more famous examples of these specialized transports is Galamander used on Vinalhaven Island in Maine. These photographs are of the careful restored vehicle.

Vinalhaven Galmander
Vinalhaven Galmander
Vinalhaven Glamander

1852 illustration of a heavy duty four wheel wagon used to transport marble blocks from the quarry. It is pulled by a team of six oxen.A similar type of wagon was also used in New England quarries.The article describes the wagons, “... strong uncouth-looking bullock-cars, composed of three parallel beams of oak, of which the centre one is rather lower than the others ...”

Source: “The Marble Quarries of Carrara [Italy]”, The Illustrated London News Supplement,Vol. XXI October 2, 1852, pp 289. Click here for full text of article

Four wheeled wagon transporting a Vermont marble block from the quarry to the mills. Six oxen pull the wagon in the front while two oxen are hitched in the rear on down slopes to act as brakes.

Source: “In The Marble Hills” Century Magazine vol. 40 is. 5 (Sept. 1890) pp 746-747. Click here for full text.


Transporting large amounts of stone blocks by sea remained the most cost effective means of transportation throughout the 19th and early 20th century. The bulk of the sea transportation was handled by coastal schooners and lighters.

Coastal Lighter Vessel Used to Transport Quarried Stone

This illustration shows the transfer of stone from the lighter to a praam boat.
From: An Account of the Bell Rock Lighthouse by Robert Stevenson, 1824 [1935 reprint].


Railroads were a critical part of transportation network for quarries especially those without access to a deep port harbor. The marble quarries of Vermont would not have been commercially successful without them. The first quarry railroad was built in Quincy Massachusetts. Complete in 1826 is a horse drawn railroad with rail cars that transport the stone bars under the carriage of the car. A detailed eyewitness account of the railway appeared in the October 9, 1826 edition of the Boston Daily Advertiser:

“Quincy Rail Road

This Rail Road, the first we believe in this country, was opened on Saturday, in presence of a number of gentlemen who take an interest in the experiment. A quantity of stone weighing sixteen tons, taken from a ledge belonging to the Bunker Hill Association, and loaded on three wagons, which together weigh five tons, making a load of twenty-one tons, was moved with ease, by a single horse from the quarry to the landing above Neponset bridge, a distance of more than three miles. The road declines gradually the whole way, from the quarry to the landing but so slightly that the horse convey back the empty wagons, making a load of five tons. After the starting of the load, which required some exertion, the horse moved with ease in a fast walk. It may therefore be conceived how greatly the transportation of heavy loads is facilitated by means of this road. A large quantity of beautiful stone, already prepared for Bunker Hill Monument, will now be rapidly, and cheaply transported to the wharf at the termination of the rail road, whence it will be conveyed by lighters to Charleston.

This road is constructed in the most substantial manner. It rests on a foundation of stone laid so deep in the ground as to be beyond the reach of frost, and to secure rails on which the carriage runs effectually against any change of their relative position, they are laid upon stones [ties] eight feet in length, placed transversely along the whole extent of the road, at distance of six or eight from each other. The space between these stones is filled with smaller stones or earth, and over the whole between the rails, a gravel path is made [for the horse]. The rails are formed of pine timber, on top of which is placed a bar of iron. The carriages run upon the iron and are kept in place by a projection on the inner edge of the tire of the wheels. The wheels are of a size considerably larger than a common cart wheel.
We learn from a gentlemen who has visited the principal rail roads in England that in point of solidity and skill in construction, this is not exceeded by any one there.”

Quincy MA Horse Drawn Railroad for the Quarries

Quincy MA Railroad Close-up of Railcar

The above two illustrations are from the book First Railroad in America (1926)




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