The building stone industry of Grafton, Illinois, and its impact on nineteenth-century St. Louis

Donald G. Mikulic, Joanne Kluessendorf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The small river town of Grafton, Illinois, was a major producer of building stone during the last half of the nineteenth century. St. Louis, Missouri, and other nearby river communities were the primary market for this building material. Low-cost transportation and certain geological features allowed the successful marketing of this stone. Situated nearly forty miles northwest of St. Louis, Grafton's location on the Mississippi River provided economic water transport of stone throughout the region. Geologically, the prominent bluffs of Silurian dolomite bordering the river at Grafton comprised an excellent source of easily quarried rock. Although Mississippian limestone abounds in St. Louis and the surrounding area, these rocks occur in thinner beds lacking the strength and resistance to weathering displayed by the Silurian dolomite from Grafton. Well-bedded and in layers as much as two feet thick, Grafton's stone became the standard for foundation stone used in large St. Louis buildings and other structures. The Silurian rock at Grafton was probably used first in the 1830s as a building material during pioneer settlement of the town itself. Commercial quarrying did not begin until the late 1850s when Silas Farrington and John Lohler opened a large quarry to supply the St. Louis market. Over the next fifty years other St. Louis-based companies operated quarries in Grafton to supply the city, and many prominent structures, such as the Eads Bridge, were built with this stone. Changes in construction methods and materials in the late 1800s caused a major decline in the use of building stone, and, by the early twentieth century, Grafton stone was no longer used for that purpose. The Grafton quarries continued to operate at a much lower level, however, producing rip-rap and crushed stone until 1975.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
PublisherGeological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States (USA)
ISBN (Print)0016-7592
StatePublished - 2008


  • ISGS


Dive into the research topics of 'The building stone industry of Grafton, Illinois, and its impact on nineteenth-century St. Louis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this