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There have been two types of rock quarries in Blue Mound. In the early 30s there was one run by the WPA. Then in the mid 40s, M. M.Green started up a commercial one that still exists today.
The WPA or Works Project Administration was a Federal program that granted money to local agencies for specific local projects. The WPA was created in 1935 and ran until 1943 under U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Its stated purpose was to provide useful work for millions of victims of the Great Depression and thus preserve their skills and self-respect.
There were two abandon rock quarries in Blue Mound when we first moved there in 1945. One of them was almost directly behind our house and the other one was directly south of John Perry’s place. It was difficult to say how long they had been abandoned, but some of the metal equipment had rusted through already. Donald Barnes who lived in Blue Mound from 1921 - 1936 didn’t remember any rock quarries and neither did Howard Brown who lived there from 1917 -1929. (It is hard to believe that the quarries started up, flourished and went defunct in no more than 8 years.)
To date, I have been unable to trace the history of these early quarries other than what Reva Perry Maberry and her Daughter June Maberry Lazure told me about them in an interview in 2000 and the following info from a variety of sources.
I first contacted the National Archives and got the following reply: “A search of our records does show that a rock quarry briefly operated in Livingston County in late 1936 to early 1937. It was located in Section 17, Township 59 North, Range 24 West (Editor’s note: Unfortunately, this location is in Jackson Township!). The funding for the project was rescinded in early 1937 for unspecified reasons. The rock quarry was to provide stone for road building projects in the county.”
I also got the following information via email about WPA Projects in general:
“From: Eugene Morris
The WPA granted money to local agencies. The usual pattern was for a local agency to send an application to the state director of the WPA. This application briefly explained the project and outlined the amount of money needed. This local agency would be the "sponsoring agency" agreeing to maintain the project afterwards. In many cases the projects did not require any upkeep. The sewing room projects and the commodity distribution program were no upkeep types of projects. once they were finished, no further work or money was required. Many of the projects were capital improvements (road-building/paving, sewer construction, building schools, etc) and would require upkeep years after the WPA ceased to function. The sponsoring agency would be responsible for this upkeep. The quarry was probably operated to supply stone for other projects. Once those projects were done, the quarry operation would have shut down. The county or state was responsible for all other record keeping about the project. Plans, drawings, personnel records and so on were to be kept by them. The WPA did provide the sponsoring agency with a list of people on relief who were eligible to work on the project. They also sought to approve most engineering and architectural plans. Most of this work was done by the state WPA offices, the federal level simply coordinated the work of the state offices.
I hope this answers your question. If you have any more questions, feel free to respond by return e-mail.
More recently (September 2003) I contacted Thomas Gubbels, a Historian for the Missouri Department of Transportation, about this quarry. He had this to say about the WPA quarry, “I also checked to see if I could find any reference to WPA involvement with the construction of Highway 65 (someone had the opinion that some of the rock for the paving of 65 came from the Blue Mound quarry) through Livingston County. I did not find any records indicating that gravel from a WPA quarry was used in the construction of Highway 65. Most portions of Route 65 through Livingston County were established as gravel roads in 1931-1933, a few years before the WPA was created. However, I noticed that other segments of Highway 65 were not completed until 1940, and it is possible that gravel from Blue Mound quarry was used in some of these later road projects within Livingston County.”
This is a part of the interview with Reva Maberry and June Lazure in December 2000:
Joe - One of the things that I have been unable to find out about is the old rock quarry that was directly behind (South of) where you used to live. Do you know anything about it?
Reva - That was my Dad’s.
Joe - Who was doing the quarry work?
June - That was WPA.
Reva - Yes, at that time.
June - Mom made the remark that the WPA moving in there saved her Dad. from bankruptcy.
Reva - It was on him.
June - He got reimbursed.
Reva - Uncle Ott (?) walked from home about 1 mile east and 1 mile north of Blue Mound to work in the quarry 8 hours a day.
June - The quarry provided employment for a lot of people.
Reva - It was right across the road on the South.
Joe - And then they moved up behind where we lived when we moved to Blue Mound. We bought two houses. Our property joined the school house property on the west.
Reva - Yes, I think the Chuck Shields lived where you lived and Lee Knox lived in the house just east of you.
So, it obviously was run by the WPA, but I have been unable to locate any records about it. What remained in 1945 was an old equipment shed that contained some oil barrels and some industrial strength wheel barrows. There was also a crushing machine and a place where they loaded the crushed materials for distribution. There was a fairly sizeable pit south of John Perry’s place and a smaller one south of where we lived.
The existing quarry came in after we moved to Blue Mound in 1945. Charlotte Condron provided me with the following sequence of events and information about the properties that were purchased by the Greens:
“Merrill M. Green started a quarry south of Blue Mound on the east side of the road on land owned by Everett Haynes in 1950. Edwin Haynes and family lived in the house near the quarry. As the quarry grew, Green bought (1957?) the John Perry land from his children, Ruby Perry Condron, Reva Perry Maberry, Rolla and Bacil Perry.
Leroy Linscott was the last owner of the land across the road to the west of the quarry.
Mr. Whited’s store was a just to the north west of the current location of the quarry scale house. Ar one time he added a building on the south side of the store and called it the Blue Moon dance hall.
From the four corners to the west about a half of a mile on the north side of the road there was a house built by the Browns. Later the Shattos, the Gibsons, and Isaac Ireland owned it before the Greens bought it. Jerry and Charlotte Condron rented the house for 5 years from December 1966 to November 1971. Jerry operated the dozer for Green’s and dozed in this house in 1975.
The little grey house just east of the school house was moved by Charles Sutherland from beside the 2nd house north of the school on the west side of the road (Ocal Berry and his family lived there before it was moved). The Sutherlands sold it to the Greens.
Bob Dillard owned the place just north of the school. Warner Bachman was the next owner. He sold it to the Greens. The Greens rented it a few years before it was dozed down.
Lelia Davis owned the land across the road from the Dillard’s property. It was last owned by Bill Hughes before he sold it to the Greens.
The Dillard house was directly north of the quarry. Jim Berry, Stanley Odell and Glen Fergason owned it before the Greens bought it. They rented it to Claude Spainhour for a few years and the house is now used as a storage shed.
The school closed in the spring of 1957. Mrs. Christmas (Mildred Zullig’s Dad) bought it and converted it into a home. He was hit by a car and killed while crossing the road after leaving church. There were several witnesses standing in the church yard. (I was one of these people!) The next people to live in the school house were James (a minister) and Stella Porter. They also ran a dog kennel at this location for several years. Mr. Porter passed away and Stella sold the property to the Greens in 1998/99. The old school house remains and is used as a lab for rock inspection and storage.
M. M. Green died in 1974, but the company continued on under the management of his wife (Blanche), their three children and their spouses. Donald, the oldest was the President. Donald died September 4, 1998. On June 1, 2000, the remaining family members transferred ownership to Hunt Midwest Mining, a Division of Hunt Enterprises which includes the Kansas City Chiefs).
Since 1991, an asphalt plant has also been operated at Blue Mound. The Paris asphalt plant (home office is in Clarence, Missouri) sits south of the quarry plant.“
Johnny Hoyt in his book, Not Much of Anything: A History of My Life, had this to say about the existing rock quarry, “As I look at Blue Mound, at one time there were two stores and a drugstore where we people on Saturday nights would gather. This area now is a rock quarry- There have been two houses burned in the last years, merely to get them out, as the rock under the houses is more valuable than the houses. Mr. Green, the owner of the quarry, told me at one time where they were working at that time the rock was 36 feet thick, yielding over 220,000 tons per acre. They are building roads, making it possible for us to go many times farther in a day than it was possible in those days.”
My own personal recollection of the existing quarry includes several items. First, was the excitement of the daily dynamite blast which occurred about 4 p.m. each work day. There was the obligatory “fire in the hole” auditory warning, a slight rumble of the earth, a tower of blasted rock going skyward, a mighty roar and then an after-noise as individual rock particles fell back to earth. The bigger ones fell first followed by smaller and smaller ones. Then, quarry workers would come over into John Perry’s hayfield and load up the bigger ones that had drifted over with the wind and haul them back to the quarry. According to the quarry workers, a perfect “shot” was when almost no rocks went up into the air. They seemed to have a lot of imperfect shots. The blasting did seem to affect our “living” water wells. At least they seemed to go dry more often after the quarry moved in.
One of our (my Brother John and I) surprises came one day when we were watching them put the big rock chunks in the crusher to make gravel or lime. One person was at the top of the conveyor belt that took the rocks to the crusher and he would pull out any roots or other debris among the rock fragments. He also had quite a little pile of unexploded sticks of dynamite. When he saw that we were watching him, he picked up a handful of them and threw them into the crusher. Wide-eyed, we hit the deck only to see him laughing at us. He explained later that the pressure of the crusher wouldn’t set off the dynamite, it needed the electrical spark that went through the blasting caps that actually started the explosion. Needless to say, we were much impressed by this.
I still have a few strands of that dynamite wire. They used miles of it down through the years and since it was blasted into all lengths, they made no attempt to recycle it. So, one of our daily or weekly routines was to go to the quarry and pick up the left over dynamite wire. We would roll it up into little balls and at one time probably had over a bushel basket full!
Other activities at the rock quarry involved the pools of water that they formed. The water was always clear and good for swimming. We did a lot of that and we also did something else when we got a little older. We would run our old cars down the quarry roads right off into the pools with water splashing everywhere. Of course the old cars would drown out, so we would pull or push them out, dry them off and do it over again. Now was that dumb or what?
The dynamite in those days (early 1950s) came in wooden boxes. They were really nice and we used them for many things. One use involved our old dog, Flash. He came with the place when we bought it from the Fleshmans. Well he up and died after the “new” quarry moved in so we buried him in one of the dynamite boxes at the edge of our property.
One last remembrance involved the old cars again. I had an old 1929 Chevrolet that only started once in awhile. My Brother and I spent a lot of time pulling that old car trying to get it started. On this particular day we pulled it all the way down to the quarry and still couldn’t get it started. We pulled into the quarry, turned it around and had started back to the main road. My Brother was looking back at me to see if I had gotten it started and pulled over into the middle of the main Blue Mound road and hit Edwin Haynes’ car as he was coming south. Not a good scene. Neither one of us were old enough to drive. My memory is little blurred on the outcome, but the word grounded comes to mind.
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