New Document Sheds Light on Many a Colorado Yule Marble Mystery
In my previous post I revealed a document new to me but actually 34 years old. However, as far as I can discern, throughout this time the copies – for there appear to be two of them – hopefully have survived in the back stacks of two historical institutions. Of course I could be wrong, but this is the feeling I get.
But whatever the story of the document’s origin, what matters now is whether or not these vital files, letters and papers still exist, and if so will I be able to study them and bring my results to you via my Yule Marble-centric Large Format Website Magazine. Fingers crossed, that will be the case, and slowly but surely many an unsolved Yule marble mystery will be finally pieced together and presented on one independent platform – right here at martincooney.com.
So, here we go then. In my last post I set out the document in its entirety in order to maintain clarity and allow anyone to study the contents of the document without me blabbing on about this and that. But this time around I’ll employ the same blue background to identify the words of Edward J. Larsen, and regular text to signify words of my own, and blue text to identify words of anyone else
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An Inventory of the Papers of The Colorado Yule Marble Co. by Edward J. Larsen.
PRODUCERS AND WHOLESALERS OF STATUARY AND WHOLESALERS OF STATUARY – NO. 1 WHITE STATUARY GOLDEN VEIN
COLORADO MARBLE Collection No. 159
A holding of the Library of the Colorado Historical Society Denver, Colorado 80203 and the Marble Historical Society Marble, Colorado 81623 processed by Edward J. Larsen December 1988
First of all, who is Edward J. Larsen? Good question. For some reason I was quite surprised to discover that far from being an obscure historian, a quick search soon revealed him to be something of a literary phenomenon. According to the bio on his Amazon page he ranks as an international best seller:
Edward J. Larson is the author of seven books and the recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. His other books include Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory; Evolution’s Workshop; God and Science on the Galapagos Islands; and Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution. Larson has also written over one hundred articles, most of which address topics of law, science, or politics from an historical perspective, which have appeared in such varied journals as The Atlantic, Nature, Scientific American, The Nation, The Wilson Quarterly, and Virginia Law Review. He is a professor of history and law at Pepperdine University and lives in Georgia and California.
Secondly, here we see the two Historical Societies, the Colorado and Marble, wherein said document hopefully resides. However, having called both institutions I have yet to get a call through to anyone in person, and so I will in the coming weeks send both parties an email requesting information regarding their whereabouts, so stay tuned and we’ll see where we get. And if anyone reading this can steer me in the right direction I would be very grateful indeed.
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GENERAL HISTORY. The Colorado Yule Marble Company, located at Marble (Gunnison County}, was a major supplier of very high quality marble from 1905 to 1941. During this time it provided the material for hundreds of buildings and monuments including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Although the history of marble production in the Crystal River valley begins much earlier, the Colorado Yule Marble Company came into being in 1905. It was originally organized by a brilliant businessman named Channing Frank Meek. Under his direction a daring trolley system and railroad spur to the nearest mainline were built and the mountain-high quarries were finally linked to the market. Until his death in 1912 the company grew to become the third largest marble producer in the country and boasted the world’s largest and best equipped finishing mill.
And here we go, right from the off – a perfect example of just why this document may prove so vital in shedding light onto the ever unfolding Colorado Yule Marble story. Clearly this is no ordinary quasi government document meant for dispassionate eyes, for in describing the remarkable Channing Franklin Meek as “a brilliant businessman” Larsen immediately sets out his stall with an immediate nod to the remarkable nature of this epic tale, giving us an immediate taste of what is to come in his summation, and gently hints at the revelations that await among these many, many documents – each carefully listed below and cataloged into an easily traceable ff- (file folder) number.
Although prosperity would continue for a few more years the tragic death of Mr. Meek in 1912 was a harbinger of the trouble to come. James Forrest Manning became the new president of the company which soon was ranked as the second largest marble concern in the world.
More to the point, the author get’s straight down to business with his pertinent words regarding ‘Colonel’ Meek’s “tragic death”, labelling it a “harbinger of the trouble to come”, and truly I could not have come up with a better analysis myself. For it was not only the death of this brilliant businessman that gives cause for concern, but the appallingly negligent way his demise came about – either leaping to avoid, or leaping from… a runaway something or another, depending upon the source. However, a definitive account of ‘the accident’ remains illusive. But as we shall see, Lawsen’s instinct appear to run along the same lines as my own: a strange event indeed, and as he put’s it: was Meek “perhaps a little too aggressive in his pursuit of corporate expansion” ? Hopefully we shall soon find out, or at least have vastly more to go on than we do today.
This title did not last for long, however. Heavily in debt, the company was forced into receivership in July of 1916. By 1917 a world war, declining market demand and financial problems caused the quarries and mill to be closed. The original Colorado Yule Marble Company ceased to exist in July of 1919 when a Denver Judicial Court issued a final decree of foreclosure and sale.
I find it a little bit odd that the author failed to mention a little matter of Colorado Yule marble being selected for the building stone of the Lincoln Memorial at this point, (though he does mention it later) and how this truly gargantuan project, although delivered ahead of time and on budget, had severe financial implications that played heavily upon the quarries’ closure.
For not only had the C.Y.M.C. to drastically scale-up their operation at a huge expense, but, such was the massive size of the rough marble blocks needed for the memorial’s enormous Greek columns, the quarries’ waste pile eventually grew to mountainous proportions, as all but the largest blocks were routinely tipped over the steep hillside, or dumped along the Crystal River in order to stop the rapid current from undercutting the vital rail link to Carbondale and the outside world.
Marble production at the site did not begin again until about 1922 when a pair of companies (Yule Marble Company of Colorado and the Carrara Yule Marble Company) coordinated their activities in order to fill new orders for marble. Eventually these two companies merged into the Consolidated Yule Marble Company. The name changed again in 1925 when the Tennessee-Colorado Marble Company was incorporated after a Tennessee company leased the properties from Consolidated. The lease was not renewed and by the end of 1925 the operation was once again known as the Consolidated Yule Marble Company.
And so now we have a little passage of background information regarding the quarries’ time-line for the uninitiated in such matters. However, what made me very happy was when I married his timeline with that of mine on my popular About Colorado Yule Marble page (located in the header), for the dates matched perfectly on every occasion.
Moderate production continued sporadically until 1929 when the property was once again sold – this time to the Vermont Marble Company which called its newly formed subsidiary the Yule-Colorado Company.
The Yule-Colorado Company was never the full-scale producer that its original predecessor had been but it did manage to secure the last and perhaps the most prestigious marble contract in the history of the Yule creek operations.
The largest piece of marble ever quarried was installed at Arlington National Cemetery in 1932 as a monument to the Unknown Soldier.
Meager production continued at the Yule-Colorado Company until 1941 when all operations were ordered to a halt by the parent company, Vermont Marble. Shortly thereafter, all of the equipment was dismantled and sold and the mill was torn down. An era had most certainly ended. Although the Vermont Marble Company investigated the reopening of the…
…quarries in the early 1960’s nothing has come to pass and as of this writing no more marble has been removed from the Yule Creek site . In recent history another concern has secured a lease of the quarry property and a new Colorado Yule Marble Company is being born.
Perhaps another fine era is about to dawn but for now the great mill is gone and the quarries are cold and silent. Only the spirits of the pioneering companies and their hard working people continue to endure, locked in the translucent beauty of the pure white stone.
The history of marble quarrying in Colorado and in particular the story of the Colorado Yule Marble Company is important in many ways. It provides a vivid example of how people, businesses and towns are always at the mercy of seemingly uncontrollable ~ influences.
Again, we hear the author’s voice weighing-in above the chatter with his sudden foray into speculation and theory. Just what is he hinting at with his ~ “influences” regarding people, businesses and towns ? How does this specifically relate to The Yule ? But then he goes on to hit the nail right on the head:
Was Channing Meek perhaps a little too aggressive in his pursuit of corporate expansion? The answer to this pertinent question can most likely be found in the historical collection.
Well, WAS Channing Franklin Meek “a little too aggressive”? See what I mean? Certainly Lawsen hints at the answer, but if he knows then he is certainly not giving anything away. However, my guess is that we will all be the wiser once this fascinating document is finally fleshed out, hopefully by yours truly, but by anyone really. And if anyone can help, aid or assist me in my efforts I will pass all of my findings onto you, right here at martincooney.com, where The Story of Colorado Yule Marble calls home.
This finding aid includes the collections at the Colorado Historical Society and the Marble Historical Society. Information on the collection at the Marble Historical Society was graciously provided by Oscar McCullom, society president. Collections also exist at the Denver Public Library Western History Department, the Western State College Library of Gunnison Colorado, and the Vermont Marble Company at Proctor, Vermont.
Now we begin the chronological history of the quarry in roughly the same format that I have used for my About Colorado Yule Marble page. And as I said, when I fed his dateline with mine they joined together like a fine dovetail joint. Needless to say this gives me great hope regarding the content of those safely locked away (hopefully) ff– files listed below. Because who knows exactly what they will reveal – I can hardly wait to get my hands on them.
1873. Geologist Sylvester Richardson discovers the marble deposits while prospecting along Rock Creek.
And so here we begin a brief history of Colorado Yule marble by Edward J. Larsen in 1988 that opens the only way such an account can – with just the basic facts, as no one really knows much more about the two mysterious characters involved who appear to have played no further role in the matter.
1874. George Yule “rediscovers” the marble deposits along the creek that now bears his name.
1885. Perry, McKay and Griffith stake the New Discovery and London marble claims on the Yule Creek site.
1886. John c. Osgood provides funds for the development of the quarries.
1887. Tests in London on a sample of Yule Creek marble indicate that it is harder than any marble on record.
1893. Osgood sends a large block of marble to the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago; it stimulates much interest.
1895. Yule marble is selected as the material for the interior of the capitol building in Denver.
1905. Channing F. Meek organizes the Colorado Yule Marble Company.
1906. First train arrives at Marble on the new extension from Placita – the Crystal River & San Juan Railroad.
1910. The electric tram from the quarry to the mill is completed.
1912. Colonel Meek dies from injuries suffered when he jumped from a runaway tram.
1913. Provided tribute slab for Washington Monument.
1914. Awarded contract for Lincoln Memorial.
1916. Placed in receivership under J. F. Manning.
1917. All production operations are halted.
1919. All company assets are liquidated by public sale.
1922. Yule Marble Company of Colorado and the Carrara Yule Marble Company reopen the quarry and mill.
1924. Operations are joined to form the Consolidated Yule Marble Company Property is leased and does business as the Tennessee-Colorado Marble Company.
1925. Lease is terminated and the name returns to Consolidated Yule Marble Company.
1927. Jacob Smith purchases Consolidated and reorganizes as the Yule-Colorado Company. All properties are acquired from Smith by the Vermont Marble Company.
1930. Awarded contract for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
1941. All operations are halted; the mill and all equipment and properties are either sold or torn down.
1963. Vermont Marble investigates reopening the quarries.
1976. Vermont Marble is purchased by a Swiss corporation.
1988. A Denver business concern leases the quarry site for possible operation in 1989.
COLORADO HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTION
Now remember, this document was written in 1988, and so the author has now brought us right up to date with his reference to a certain Denver businessman and his drive to reopen the Yule marble quarry. Well, it turns out that the man’s name was Stacey E. Dunn. But alas yet another tragedy was to befall our seemingly doomed quarry as Mr. Dunn was killed in an automobile accident while on his way to the quarry – the opening ceremony, I have heard.
The collection at the Colorado Historical Museum consists of numbered file folders (FF) and four oversize business ledger books. These items are located together on a shelf and known as collection number 159. The contents of the file folders are primarily business documents: vouchers; payroll ledgers; bills; correspondences.
So, it was at this very point during my first reading of the document when I did an instant double-take. What? WHAT? What file folders are these I thought to myself. Primarily business documents, payroll ledgers, BILLS and correspondences. CORRESPONDENCES ? Like what?
Suddenly my mind was racing: just think of what might be locked away in these mysterious original documents. The mind boggles. At last we’ll have definitive evidence for events and circumstances that occurred around a hundred years ago. Wow. This was a bit of good news, to put it mildly.
All of the file folders are arranged chronologically, from the earliest company name to the latest. The ledger books contain entries for sales, expenses, payroll, etc. and can be cross referenced to much of the documents in the file folders. The photographs have been transferred to the photography department.
This was music to my ears as I imagined pouring over the papers one by one, gleaming who knows what sort of fascinating information, facts: sales, expenses – cross referenced – and letters! I mean, how amazing.
FF-1 Yule, George Yule Creek White Marble Company.
FF-2 Incorporation Documents 1904 Colorado Yule Marble Company.
FF-3 Incorporation Documents 1905-1913.
FF-4 Annual Reports 1908, 1912-1917
FF-5 Manning, James Forrest.
FF-6 Manning, James Forrest.
And here things really begin to get interesting when the famous name of none other than Channing ‘Frank’ Meek makes its appearance. Imagine what this ff- (file folder) might uncover, perhaps even shedding some light upon the ‘Colonel’s’ forceful ambition and cruel, unfortunate death
FF-7 Meek, Channing Frank.
FF-8 Correspondence 1913, December 1918.
FF-9 Correspondence 1918.
Correspondence, Correspondence, and then, boom, The LINCOLN MEMORIAL, just like that. I mean, can you imagine just what could they have been corresponding about? All those little juicy details, the backwards and forwards of ideas and information, of problems and solutions, setbacks and gains. Pretty fascinating.
FF-27 Lincoln Memorial.
FF-28 Clippings Pre 1900.
FF-29 Clippings 1910 to 1914.
Clippings, Clippings, Clippings galore – all fascinating I’m sure – then Pamphlets – equally interesting. And then, bam, we bump right into another HUGE story – that of what was the largest block of marble ever to be quarried at the time. Yes, sixty whopping tons of Colorado Yule Marble, bound for the Arlington Cemetery some 2,000 miles away for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Perhaps now we can get to the bottom of this decades long mystery and see just what the quarry had to say about their prized marble block splitting into cracks running parallel along the base within a short time of its installation.
I have my theory in regards to the unfortunate cracks, and I’m not afraid to share them with anyone who will listen. I think the cracks were formed as a result of the block being used as lure to sell war bonds – a noble undertaking in of itself, but ultimately a costly and awkward development all the same.
I will present my assessment of the cracks in a future post, but for now we will have to await the outcome of these historic papers’ content being released, then we can really see what happened, and what they thought about it at the time.
FF-42. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
FF-43. Mutti, Orfeo P. Master Carver.
FF-44 ClippingsFF-47 Oral Histories.
So, just who was Orfeo P. Mutti ? I would sure like to know, for I must say that his name does not ring a bell when it comes to Colorado Yule Marble history. The only thing I can say for sure is that he was a “master carver”, but where does he fit into the story? And why has he got a whole effing file folder to himself ? Surely he must have been something of an amazing man, with an amazing story that I would love to hear. How about you? Then there are the Clipping and “Oral Histories” which sounds altogether fascinating to me.
FF-49 Mill Site, Nomination, National Register 1978.
FF-53 Dunn, Stacey, Developer.
FF-55 Clippings 1988.
And that concludes the ff-file folder section of the document. There were a few more but I thought I would limit my attention to the actual files that held some promise of treasured new Colorado Yule Marble information.
We now turn our attention to the final chapter of this fascinating document as we are treated to a long list of tantalizing and graphically real teasers. If only I could get my hands on these irreplaceable documents then I feel that a whole new understanding of the circumstances surrounding Colorado’s proud State Rock, the mighty Yule, from its unlikely origins to its even unlikelier magnificent heyday, may at last be revealed… by the very men tasked with bringing such an epic and ambitious plans to life.
MARBLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTION The Marble Historical Society is located in Marble, Colorado. It holds a large and interesting collection of articles pertinent to both the town and the industry. The society maintains a museum in the old Marble High School building. The following is a list of the items in the collection that pertain specifically to the marble operations in the Yule Creek area.
OK, so now we are dealing with the odds and sods, as it were, of information gathered under no particular banner other than the fact that they were, back in 1988 at least, stored safely and securely in the vaults of the Marble Historical Society, located in the charming old school building that still stands to this day, as does the school in fact.
As mentioned, I have yet to speak to anyone in regard to these papers, but I do aim to contact the historical society in the coming weeks so please stay tuned and I will let you know what I discover.
Letter 1907, February To Charles Austin Bates CYM Letterhead Signed by Mr. C. F. Meek, 4 Pages
Brochure 1908, September “To stockholders of CYM Co 4 Pages Brochure 1908, September.
Minutes of informal stockholders meeting at Waldorf Astoria hotel, 16 Pages
Booklet 1909, November “Pictures Made at Marble” By Charles Austin Bates Photographs and article from Denver Daily News, 16 Pages
Brochure 1910 “Facts About the CYM Co” Form 59, 8 Pages.
Bulletin 1911, September “To stockholders of the CYM Co Reference visit by Meek to New York, Reference Charles Austin Bates Clipping 1912, September American Stone Trade 11 York. “Col. Meek meets accidental death” page 47 “Monument dealers visit Marble Colorado” page 48.
Clipping 1913, January New York Curb issue 36 page 2 “Government investigating California Yule Marble Co. ”
Clipping 1913, January Rutland Daily Herald 1/22/13 “News of the city: Colorado Yule in bad shape” Prospectus 1914, May 5 Printed on newsprint Reference officers, directors, property, business on hand, marble market, quality of CYM marble, history, profits Financial statement ending 12/31/1913, 8 Pages.
Price List 1915 “CYM Co price list” Terms, descriptions, catalog references 28 Pages. Catalog 1923 “Design Catalog A”, 92 Pages. Blueprint 1924, July Colorado Consolidated Yule Marble Company Ownership of land.
Letter 1925, February To “My dear niece” From H. L. (Henry L. Johnson – photographer) Colorado White Marble Co letterhead.
Report 1929, February “History of Yule Colorado Marble Company’s Properties at Marble Colorado” By Edward C. Hanley, 7 Pages.
Brochure 1931, April Memory Stone Vol 6 #5, 8 Pages.
Blueprint Map 1932, November Yule Colorado Quarry Yule 5-5 1932, December “Yule Colorado .. (unreadable) •• Dec 1932” Shows quarry 1 and 2, aerial cable line Blueprint 1933, November Yule Colorado Quarry #4 Yule 5-6 Blueprint 1934, July Yule Quarry #4 “Vert. and Horz. channel cuts” Blueprint 1934, December Yule Quarry #4 “Possible channel cuts” Blueprint 1935, August Colorado Quarry “Vert. and Horz. channel cuts” Page 13 Blueprint 1935, December Colorado Quarry Yule 5-8 Blueprint 1936, December Colorado Quarry Yule 5-9 Set of Haps 1934 1940 “Yule Colorado – Quarry No. 4” Floor levels and dimensions on 8 different dates, 8 maps.
Report 1941, October “Yule Colorado Marble Company” Description of deposits and some structures.
Report 1952, April “Abandon Quarry Report” By Herbert W. Johnson Includes quarry production 1930 – 1941, 2 Pages.
Clipping 1980, September Valley Journal “Swiss firm sends reps to study possible Blueprint.
Map 1985, December Cite and location map Yule Marble Quarry New fences at quarry 6 Sheets Undated Material “Yule Colorado Marble Deposit, Yule Creek, Marble, Colorado” II Shows area from Osgood quarry to tunnel no. 5 Map “Ownership of Land” “Colorado Consolidated Y. M. Co.” By A. J. Mitchel, C. E. and E. M.
Map From Crystal River to quarry Electric lines, rotary station, trolley line Colorado Yule Marble Scale: 1″ = 50′ “Change of pipeline .. substitute tunnel for dam.” 8″ x 12″ blueline copy Circular Colorado Yule Marble Company References to newspaper articles Form 65, 8 Pages.
Clipping Rocky Mountain News “Colo. deposit of statuary marble equal largest in world”.
Pamphlet Book “The CYM views of Quarry and Mill” Pictorial of quarry and buildings, 18 Pages.
Monumental Design Published by Williamson – Hafner Co, Denver Headstone monuments Pictures of mill and quarry, 350 Pages.
Letter Pledges to assist a fellow employee 10 Signatures 1 Page Blueprint “Ownership of Land” References to A. J. Mitchell and W. W. Wood Blueprint “Sketch #1” “Property of Yule Creek White Marble Company” Blueprint “Yule-Colorado Marble Company” “Plan of quarries and profile of cableway” Pa&e.
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Wow, just WOW. So many letters, clippings, pamphlets, maps, reports, blueprints, brochures, catalogs, price lists, reports, even meeting minutes: a veritable treasure trove of information just waiting to be discovered. Here is a link to the original document:
If you can help me in my endeavors to relay these documents right here at martincooney.com then please do not hesitate to call me at 970-319-1070, or email me at email@example.com.
I will be back with news of my discoveries very soon, so please stay tuned and all will hopefully be revealed.
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Pt. 2 Inventory of the Papers of The C.Y.M.C, 1988: with My Comments
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thanks for visiting martincooney.com
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