No history of the opening or development of the stone quarries at Sandstone has ever been written. Space here forbids anything but a meager outline.
The first opening was made on the river bank about two hundred feet south of the present quarry office, August 22, 1885. At that time the river bank, the bluffs and in fact the whole region was thickly covered with timber and a heavy growth of underbrush. This opening was made by the writer, no other person being then interested in the enterprise. The crew consisted of Daniel Ryan, foreman, John McCoy, Michael McNamara, and John Randal, quarrymen, Orville C. Cox, blacksmith, Michael Logue, cook, and Joseph Thomas, Henry Mapes and James Campbell, lumber jacks, for cutting brush. This crew remained for ten days, two or three days of which were too rainy for work. The first picture of the quarry was taken some weeks later showing however the only opening made and its condition, when the crew was discharged. The stone at the upper right corner, was the first cut in the quarry. During the progress of this work four loads of stone were hauled by team to Hinckley and shipped to St. Paul. Col. R. A. Smith having the honor of hauling the first load and Leavitt Reynolds the second. One large block was sawed by Lauer Bros., and the remainder cut by Matt Breen at his sheds on Court square, St. Paul, and all exhibited at the state fair, where they attracted much attention.
For the purpose of introducing the stone the quarry was opened during the following winter, giving employment to about thirty men, and 232 car loads were quarried, hauled to Sandstone Junction, and from there shipped to St. Paul, Minneapolis and Stillwater, during the summer of 1886. Meantime the Kettle river railroad was constructed from the quarry to the St. Paul & Duluth track and shipments of stone commenced December 1, 1886.
About November 1, 1885, John P. Knowles became a partner with the writer in the enterprise and so remained until the quarry was finally sold. In December, 1886, the Kettle River Sandstone company was incorporated with a capital stock of $200,000, the stock of which was owned by the writer, John P. Knowles, Fred A. Hodge, James Hurley, and W. H. Grant, Jr. This company never operated the quarry, but soon after leased it to Ring & Tobin, who erected a four gang sawmill and operated the quarry extensively until it was closed on account of the panic in 1893. During 1887, 1888, and 1889, the quarry was worked on a large scale, often giving employment to more than four hundred men. The great fire of September 1, 1894 having destroyed the mill and all other property in the quarry except the office and powder house, The Minnesota Sandstone company succeeded to all other interests. The present capital stock of the company is $100,000. It gives steady employment to three hundred and fifty men, and last year shipped two hundred and ninety car loads of stone. The shipments for the first six months of the present year have been one thousand seven hundred car loads.
Sandstone's Gift Souvenir...c. 1899