Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

Welcome Page of the Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site . . . | . . . Table of Contents Page . . . | . . . Contact Site Manager

Hancock Herald - August 20th, 1959
Sherman R. Lewis Recalls

History of Tyler Switch Quarry

Transcribed by B.J. Shawd, October 26, 2002

(Ed. Note: Sherman R. Lewis of Washingtonville, Orange County, who writes a column entitled "The Listening Post," for the Orange County Post, has written the following article concerning "The Big Quarry" at Tyler Switch which is now very active following many years of silence and has kindly forwarded this newspaper a copy for the enjoyment of our readers).

The Big Quarry
Up-State in Delaware County at Tyler Switch on the now abandoned Ontario and Western Railroad was located a large stone quarry, known far and wide as "The Big Quarry". This Big Quarry stood on the brow of the mountain, overlooking the Delaware Valley. It could be clearly seen from the yard of the one teacher school house on the bank of the river near the mouth of City Brook trout stream. To this little school, we youngsters trudged on foot three miles morning and afternoon from Upper City Brook to attend school.

One recess period, as we looked up toward the Big Quarry which seemed to touch the sky, we saw a man with his horse and dump cart back a load of rubbish stone to the brink of the hill where it was customary to dump the cart and let the rubbish go tumbling down the mountain side. From this quarry, the production of fine blue flag stone and curbing had been carried on so long that the rubbish dump had obliterated and completely buried the large forest trees to the very foot of the mountain so that nothing obstructed the view.

A Near Tragedy
This day as we watched the man and horse silhouetted against the sky as they turned and backed the cart against the guardrail on the ground at the brink, the trip on the cart failed to function as the horse lunged the wheels against the rail. As the wheels struck the rail, the weight of stone in the rear of the cart overbalanced the horse. Before our startled eyes, down the steep mountain side tumbled horse and cart, end over end. The cart and harness were broken to smithereens, but, miracle of miracles, the horse bruised and bleeding was able to pick itself up and walk away.

Native Ingenuity
Without the aid of bulldozers and power tools of today, men, pretty much with picks and shovels, had constructed a rough road diagonally down the mountain side for hauling out the cut stone by horses and wagon. There was a deep hollow where the road crossed City Brook and then traversed diagonally along the opposite side to the highway on higher ground. Nearly 65 years ago, a bridge of native poles and timbers was constructed across the stream to raise the road about 12 to 15 feet and thus ease the grade of the road of it's rise from the creek beds. This bridge was about 30 to 40 feet long and was so well built that it carried the heavy loads of stone for many years. For about a quarter of a mile or more from the bridge to the brow of the hill leading to the stone dock at Tyler Switch, the wheel tracks were always rutted and deep with mud. To improve the road and make it easier for the horses, curb stone, about four to six inches thick, two feet wide and five to eight feet long were laid end to end in each wheel track. Some of these stones are still visible to this day.

Big Quarry Active Again
The feet of many a village and city dweller still tread the "flag stone walks" that were laid from the stone from this Big Quarry and the stone curbing can still be seen guarding the walk. But time brings change. And so it was that as the era of concrete came into being, the era of flag stone sidewalks and stone curbing drew to a close. And so after many active years the Big Quarry along with most others closed down. So also came pretty much to a close the skilled trade of stone cutting.

However, after many years of silence and inactivity, the Big Quarry has again sprung into new life. New improved roads, dams, the New York City aquaducts, and modern building construction have created tremendous demands for sand, gravel, crushed stone and their by- products.

The Big Quarry, close to old 17 which is becoming the "Quickway" and midway between Binghamton and Orange County, with its millions of tons of blue sand stone for crushing fits right into the middle of this picture.

Cooney Brothers have acquired a ten year lease on the "Big Quarry" and have established headquarters not far from it's base. The valley again echoes with the blasts from the quarry. Most of the old dump stones have been carted away and crushed. A large crusher is now located just below the quarry and a new road built from there to the screening and processing plant on the lower ground to the west. Water is pumped from the river for washing and the dust and waste is gradually filling "sunken lake" not far away. This was a small deep lake with neither inlet or outlet, but always filled with sparking cold water fresh as from a good spring. This small lake had, down through the centuries, crusted over with moss and other debris until it was more like a bog than a lake. On the bog surface of this lake grew a few cranberries of which I have myelf picked a few. One could poke a long pole down through this bog crust and find no bottom. In spots the crust was three to four feet thick.

Still Serving Mankind
It is difficult to estimate the millions of tons of stone that may still be crushed from the rock of this mountain of which the Big Quarry was a part. Now there is practically no waste. What was formerly rubbish is now crushed also. Thus nature gives up the resources to serve man's various needs. And in so doing, the Big Quarry provides employment to many men, not only at the quarry, but also on the road and in many factories. Thus the humble stone of the mountain near where I went to school and passed my early life has become a treasure of gold far surpassing many a gold mine of the fabulous Klondike. The old quarry itself now resembles the description of the granite quarries of Vermont.

Sad to relate, the old District School House is tumbling down and soon will have passed forever down the back entries of time.

Welcome Page of the Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site . . . | . . . Table of Contents Page . . . | . . . Contact Site Manager

a service of the Delaware County Historical Association located at 46549 State Highway 10, Delhi, NY 13753

Online since 1996 - created and managed by Joyce Riedinger