1. In 1885, quarrying began on the Kettle River at Sandstone. The distinctive pink sandstone was so popular that entrepreneurs longed to get in on the quarrying action. In 1892, the Water Power Sandstone Company founded its quarry two miles north of Sandstone at Hell's Gate.
2. The quarry flourished, and the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad consented to build a spur from Miller (later Groningen) to the new operation. The spur was completed in 1892, and the quarry shipped 5,000 tons of stone that year alone. The quarry soon employed between 300 and 500 men, and business actually doubled over the next several years.
3. People soon began to settle around the quarry, calling their settlement “The Quarries,” “North Sandstone,” or “Upper Quarry.”
4. The forest fire of September 1, 1894, devastated the quarry and settlement, and several residents lost their lives. One boarding house did survive the blaze, and survivors from Sandstone joined their neighbors there to wait for rescue crews from Duluth.
5. In 1896, businessman Martin Ring, who had once operated the Sandstone quarry, founded his own quarry next to the Water Power Sandstone Company, which had rebuilt after the fire. Mr. Ring had received a contract for seven hundred carloads of sandstone for use in the Minneapolis reservoir.
6. Mr. Ring platted a village on the bluff above his quarry and named it “Banning” after William L. Banning, who was a past president of the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. Banning's plat consisted of six streets.
7. By 1899, Banning could boast of a school, two hotels, a saloon, a general store, a post office, and several houses along with the two quarries. Mr. Ring served as postmaster.
8. Banning was officially incorporated on August 15, 1901. It was home to 300 residents.
9. Quarrying continued in Banning, and the Barber Asphalt Company from St. Paul moved to town around the turn of the century. The village seemed to be flourishing.
10. Prosperity did not last for Banning. By 1905, the quarries had closed due to lack of demand for building stone. The asphalt company continued to operate, but the town declined. By 1908, only 150 people lived in Banning, and the railroad changed the village's name to “Quarry.” Townspeople tried to hold onto their community, evening voting to purchase a new pumping station and water tank for $1500 in 1911. It was a loosing battle. The asphalt company closed in 1912. Fire destroyed most of the village on July 11 of that year, and most residents moved away. The general store closed. Banning became a ghost town.
Sources: “Banning Minnesota” by James Taylor Dunn (Gopher Historian, Spring 1964); Pine County...and Its Memories by Jim Cordes; “Banning State Park” brochure
Banning, circa 1910-1911.
Banning, circa 1910-1911. The structure on the right was Banning's hotel.
Banning, circa 1910-1911. These buildings may have been part of one of the quarries.