Yule Marble’s Prestigious Past: Coast to Coast, Across the USA!

In the Early to Mid 20th Century a Plucky Colorado Marble Quarry Took the Country By Storm

Here’s a little known fact; for much of the early part of the last century our local Colorado Yule Marble was selected for a great many ultra-prestigious projects from Los Angeles to New York, Washington to Texas, with contract after contract fulfilled to the very highest specifications, delivered on time, and quite often ahead of time in fact, as was the case with perhaps its most famous application: The Lincoln Memorial. So well run was the quarry in fact that, had not World War 1, and then 2, broken out at two critical junctures in its history, I am convinced that Yule marble would now be, if not as famous as Carrara marble, then at least recognized as its equal in regards to quality. For when we look back at some of the more grandiose projects undertaken by this remote little quarry – inconveniently located 9,300 feet above sea level, high in the Rocky Mountains – the ambition, expertise and dedication of the quarry’s owners is really quite breathtaking. What you are about to see as you scroll down through this article is a quite dazzling resume of grander-than-grand civic projects; commercial banks, government buildings, monumental structures and private homes. Watch, read, and be amazed (just as I was as I researched the subject) and your eyes will blink in disbelief as city after city chose Yule marble to not only adorn their most cherished civic landmarks, but proudly displayed this new and amazing resource firmly front and center – for all the world to see.

Even I was taken aback by the sheer scope of ambition adopted by the strange ‘little marble quarry that could‘. After all, as I have outlined many times in various posts addressing the issue, as if quarrying marble in such extreme conditions as those presented by the Colorado Rocky Mountains wasn’t a sufficiently daunting prospect in itself, actually getting the stone to the market place – until the railway arrived – proved arguably even more of an obstacle. For as well as being at times a quite brutal environment in which to quarry marble, the quarry itself was quite literally (in those days) situated “in the middle of nowhere”, a thousand miles from the West Coast, but perhaps more importantly, two thousand miles from the wealthy, lucrative, and bustling Eastern Seaboard. All-in-all, despite the exceptional quality quite evident to one and all, the staggering costs involved in extracting the marble, and getting it to market, were to reap havoc with the all-important bottom line. No matter how well the various companies that owned the quarry conducted their businesses (and they all seemed to run an extremely tight ship indeed), running costs were to simply devour any and all returns by way of profit. So please bear this in  mind as you scroll down through the quite mesmerizing catalog of perfectly executed, high profile projects.  In no way was the marble found lacking. Quite definitely the problem lay ensconced in the immutable fact that the logistics involved proved crippling to whomever stepped up to lose a fortune making their Colorado Yule Marble dream come true.

photo Ron Bailey

Should you be interested in the fortunes of the quarry today however I would strongly suggest you visit my post of a week or two ago: ‘Enter the Fantini; First New Colorado Yule Marble Quarry Portal in 100 Years; 1942 to 2018. For rather than Yule marble being a thing of the past, the quarry is now very much alive and well.

Down through the years, much in the way of resource have been thrown at Colorado’s state rock, and to this extent nothing has changed in this regard concerning the present owners. But this is where all comparisons end, for this time around – and bear in mind the quarry was shuttered and filled with millions of gallons of water for over 40 years – two vital differences separate the current regime from any of its predecessors. The crippling costs of transportation, such a huge problem in times’ past, are no longer applicable. But perhaps most importantly, for the first time in its 125 year history, the quarry is now owned and operated by  Italians, and not just any Italians, but some of the very people who quarry the “world famous” Carrara: brilliant credentials indeed.

photo Ron Bailey

Before we begin our scroll, I would like to add this one comment. Don’t worry if you find yourself utterly surprised by what you are about to see, for even the people around here – Aspen and the wider Roaring Fork Valley – readily admit to knowing nothing whatsoever about the exemplary little marble quarry tucked away in the very mountains that tower over them. Practically every day I find myself informing people of Yule marble’s glorious past, which is why I decided to make this post. Sure, most of them are aware (vaguely) of Colorado Yule Marble’s most prestigious achievements – the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but few if any know much else. In fact I detect quite a strong undercurrent of belief that the reason for Yule marble’s dramatic demise at the outbreak of World War 2 had much to do with the material itself, as opposed to the aforementioned difficulties involved in quarrying in such taxing circumstances. They see chunks of substandard block and reject marble set as breakwaters in the Crystal River, placed there to curb the rushing waters from undercutting the train tracks, as a testament to the marble’s innate lack of quality, as opposed to a sensible solution to a quite vexing problem. They also see much ‘quarry waste’ scattered here and there in and around the valley (there really is quite a lot of it about) also as a sign that the marble is not up to much. Little do they realize the accomplishments attained by Yule in so many major cities across the land. And so, whether you know much on the subject, or have stumbled across this article quite by chance, I am ready to bet that, despite everything you may have heard, seen or read regarding Yule marble, what you are about to see will (or should!) quite simply blow your mind, as it did mine while I waded through my research.

For ease and convenience I am going alphabetical with my list, and while the actual Yule marble may not always be front and center, or even visible at times, rest assured that somewhere in that magnificent building it is there (or there was there, in the case of demolition), very proudly on display. One day I will try to visit each and every one of the surviving buildings and document every scrap of Colorado Yule Marble that I can lay my eyes and hands upon. Meanwhile you and I will just have to fawn over these pictures from the past and imagine, now that the quarry is quite literally back in business and seemingly thriving like never before, just what sort of ambitious marble projects we will see in the coming years. Happy days indeed.

And so, here we go, beginning with…

ARIZONA

Phoenix – Adams Hotel

ARKANSAS

HOT SPRINGS – Rammelsburg Bathouse

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas State Capitol Building

CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES – Athletic Club / Bankers Trust Building / Builders Home Association Building / Citizen’s National Bank

County Fair Grounds / Herald Examiner Building / Fidelity Building / Goodfellows Office Building

Hellman National Bank / Judson D. River residence / Merchants Fireproof Building / Merchants National Bank

Merritt Building  / Pan-American Building  / Trinity Auditorium

OAKLAND – Tribune Building

PASADENA – Forest Lawn Chapel & Crematory / Federal Building / Huntington Park Memorial Hospital / Post Office

SAN FRANCISCO – City Hall / Irvine Sarcophagus / Municipal Building / Saint Francis Hotel / Treasury Building / Trinity Auditorium

SAN SIMENON – Hearst Mansion

Colorado

DENVER – Barth Mausoleum /  Broadway Bank / Capitol Life Insurance Building / Cheeseman Memorial

City and County Building / Colorado National Bank /  Colorado State Capitol Building / Colorado State Museum

Daniels & Fisher Tower / Denver Post Office /  Empire Building /  Federal Reserve Bank / Fitzsimmons Army Hospital

Foster Building / Hamilton National Bank / Immaculate Conception Cathedral / Metropolitan Building

New Customs House / Pioneer Building / Saint James Hotel / Shubert (Denham) Theatre

Symes Building / Thatcher Memorial Vault / Union Station

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Citizens National Bank /  Federal Building / Taylor Mausoleum

GREELY – Post Office

GUNNISON – Post Office

LA JUNTA – Sante Fe Office Building

MARBLE – High School / St. Paul’s  Church Font (now in Glenwood Spring’s Barnabas Episcopal Church)

St. Paul’s Club House Fireplace

PUEBLO – Vail Hotel

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Barnes Hospital / Lincoln Memorial / Real Estate Trust Building / Washington Monument

IDAHO

POCATELLO – Post Office and Court House

ILLINOIS

CHICAGO – Marshall Field Building / Otis Building / Rosehill Mausoleum / Telephone Building

INDIANA

CRAWFORD – Davis Mausoleum

EVANSVILLE – First National Bank

SOUTH BEND – Studebaker Building

IOWA

DAVENPORT – Davenport Hotel

SMITHLAND – Rice Tomb

KANSAS

INDEPENDENCE – Court House / Post Office

WICHITA – Public Library

WINFIELD – Mausoleum

KENTUCKY

PADUCAH – Mausoleum

LOUISIANA

SHREVEPORT – Commercial National Bank

MASSACHUSETTS

CAMBRIDGE – Harvard University Widener Library

MICHIGAN

DETROIT – 43 Story (unnamed) Office Building

MINNESOTA

MINNEAPOLIS – McKnight Building

MISSOURI

INDEPENDENCE – Mormon Church

KANSAS CITY – Chambers Office Building / Community Mausoleum / Rialto Building

ST. LOUIS – German American Institute / German Savings Bank / Monward Realty Building

MONTANA

BILLINGS – Montana Power Building

HELENA – Montana State Capitol

GREAT FALLS – Rainbow Hotel /  United Savings and Trust

NEBRASKA

BROKEN BOW – I.O.O.F. Building

COLUMBUS – Evans Hotel

GREELY – Greely County Court House

HASTINGS – Masonic Temple

LINCOLN – Bencroft Ward School (University of Nebraska) / Chaplin Building / Lincoln High School

OMAHA – Brandeis Building / Douglas County Court House / Fontenelle Hotel / Forest Lawn & Crematorium

Union Pacific Building / West Lawn Mausoleum / Woodsmen of the World Building

ST. PAUL – Howard County Court House

SIDNEY – First National Exchange Bank

NEW YORK

NEW YORK CITY – Cambridge Building / Equitable Life Building / Metropolitan Museum of Art / Municipal Building

SYRACUSE /  Third National Bank of Syracuse

SCHENECTADY / Cross and Seal Design

OHIO

BELEFONTAINE – Post Office

CLEVELAND – City Hall / Cuyahoga County Court House

JAYVILLE – Abbotsville Memorial

SIDNEY – First National Bank

VERSAILLES – Mausoleum

WOOSTER – Post Office

YOUGSTOWN – Mahoning County Court House

OKLAHOMA

ENID – High School

TULSA –  Studebaker Company Building / Tulsa County Court House / Tulsa High School

OREGON

PORTLAND – Bedell Building / First National Bank Building / Northwest National Bank

RHODE ISLAND

PROVIDENCE – Providence County Court House

SOUTH DAKOTA

ABERDEEN – US Post Office and Court House

TENNESSEE

MEMPHIS – Commercial Trust & Savings

TEXAS

HOUSTON – Southern Pacific Building (Bayou Lofts) /Union National Bank (Hotel Icon)

UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY –  Boston Building / Denver & Rio Grande, Western Pacific, Railroad Station  (“Union Building”) / Holmes-Knox Building / Latter day Saints Gymnasium / Newhouse Hotel / Utah State Capitol / Stock & Mining Exchange

WASHINGTON

WALLA WALLA – Court House

VIRGINIA

ARLINGTON – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

WISCONSIN

OSHKOSH –  Private Vault

WYOMING

SHERIDAN – Unknown Bank

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In the Early to Mid 20th Century a Plucky Colorado Marble Quarry Took the Country By Storm

And so, whatever be said of Colorado Yule Marble, its failings were purely financial. As for the quality of the stone; I doubt that these prestigious projects would have accepted anything but the very finest quality. The difficulties, as outlined many times on this website, lay rooted in the staggering costs of quarrying marble in such remote and extreme conditions.

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To learn more about Colorado Yule Marble’s long, and ofttimes tortured history, please click on my three part series below:

Miners Turned Quarry Men: Colorado Yule Marble Quarry, 1884 to 1900

Two Booms, Two World Wars, and Colorado Yule Marble is Bust, 1900 to 1945

Enter the Fantini; First New Colorado Yule Marble Quarry Portal in 100 Years, 1942 to 2018

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Thanks for visiting martincooney.com

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