Yule Marble

Yule Marble
Lincoln Memorial: exterior is all Yule Marble.

Yule Marble is a type of metamorphed limestone found only in the Yule Creek Valley, in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado , just south of the town of Marble, Colorado (39°4′20″N 107°11′22″W / 39.07222°N 107.18944°W / 39.07222; -107.18944). Quarried today at 9,300 feet above sea level, Yule Marble is famous for its uniform pure white consistency, lacking, for the most part, the gray streaking commonly found in other marbles. The Yule Marble deposit  — named for George Yule, a prospector who rediscovered the stone in 1874  — is among the largest in the world. At 99.5% pure calcite, it is one of the purest marbles ever quarried. It is Colorado's official state rock.[1]

Yule's quality and uniqueness comes at a high price due to the cost of quarrying in a high altitude mountain environment. resulting in many boom and bust periods since quarrying started in the mid 1880s.

The only remaining quarry, which started in 1905, supplied the marble for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the entire exterior of the Lincoln Memorial. That operation was different from most for 1905 through 1941, it was part of an integrated operation owned by one company from cutting the raw stone out of the mountain, transporting to the finishing mill in Marble, creating a finished product and shipping finished marble out of Marble. The quarry itself is different from most marble quarries in the world for it is not a pit type operation (such as Carrara, Italy) but mined inside a mountain cliff. Today, in spite of the high price, market scope is changing from a purely domestic one (through 1941) to international with much of the production going to Italy to supply fabricators in Europe.

The quarry and town history also illustrates that single industry economies have mixed results. Yet had it not been for Yule Marble, the town would have died like other Colorado mining towns such as Crystal and Schofield. [2] [3] [4] [5]


Famous Landmarks

Yule marble gives an appearance of smooth texture, a homogeneous appearance, and a luminous surface that polishes well , which is why it was chosen for a number of major national and state landmarks, most notably the Lincoln Memorial [2] [6] Because of its aesthetic value, architect, Henry Bacon successfully urged that it be used to clad the whole exterior of the Memorial, even though it was the most expensive.

The quarry had the capability to produce large blocks which is why Yule marble was selected for the Tomb of the Unknowns[7] (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1931, the 56-ton block (on which six wreaths, three Greek figures and inscription was carved) was the largest single piece of marble ever quarried at that time.

Use of Yule marble has grown from local to national and today is international. The first major use was in the Colorado State Capitol building in 1895. Yule marble quarried between 1907 to 1941 can be found in banks, mausoleums, libraries, schools, hotels, and government buildings [8] from the west coast (Seattle south to Los Angeles) to the east coast including the Equitable Building skyscraper in New York City. [4] [5] Today, the same marble is shipped largely to Italy to supply fabricators throughout Europe. Blocks also go to Saudi Arabia, Peru and other developing international markets. Finished marble is used for tile and slabs (walls, counter tops etc).[9]


Weight (per cubic foot): 170 pounds

The forces that created Yule marble makes it distinct from all other American marbles being formed by contact metamorphism while those in Vermont and Georgia are the result of regional metamorphism, which is more associated with the orogeny and erosion of mountain ranges on a regional scale. Tennessee marble is not true marble for it did not undergo metamorphism.While true marble is metamorphic. [A]

Yule marble is also distinct because only this small area became marble even though Leadville Limestone covered hundreds of square miles and magma activity occurred throughout this area. The other limestone that experienced magma activity was transformed into a dark-blue stone.

Yule marble is transformed Leadville Limestone (Mississippian age formed 350 million to 324 million years ago) caused by contact metamorphism that occurred during the Tertiary period (34 million to 28 million years ago) following the intrusion and uplift of the nearby granitic Treasure Mountain dome. This local contact with the heat and pressure from the intrusion of hot granitic magma recrystallized the Leadville Limestone into a distinctive white marble. When the magma cooled, it to recrystallized turning into granite. [2] [5] [10]

Cross Section: Yule marble deposit of the present day quarry. Treasure Mountain Dome is to the right (out of view).

The uplift of the Treasure Mountain Dome (east side of Yule Creek Valley and the present quarry, established in 1905, on the west side) tilted the limestone up and away from the intrusion resulting in the marble bed dipping at an angle into the mountain. But because the metamorphism that formed the marble obscured most traces of bedding in the marble, it has been difficult to determine the angle of dip of the marble.

It is through seams caused by the dome uplift that the presence of noncalcite inclusions (mainly gray chert and lime)[11] occurred rather than through metamorphic contact with the uplifted dome. Where the marble is in direct contact with the intrusive granite, the most consistent change in the marble is that it becomes extremely coarse grained; the grain size in the contact zone is 1.0–2.0 cm, whereas the average grain size in the main body of marble is 2.0 mm

The small grain size and tight bonding of Yule marble gives an appearance of smooth texture, a homogeneous appearance, and a luminous surface that polishes well. Being tightly grained may make it more durable than marbles of loosely bonded grains.[B]


Geologic Start - Geologic End: Beginning and ending of a geologic period with years as "Ga" = billions and "Ma" = millions
Clock Start - Clock End: Geologic time on a 24 hour clock as hours:minutes:seconds:milliseconds;microseconds with 1 second = 3.14 million years (approximately) [12]
Geoloogic Start Geologic End Clock Start Clock End Geologic Activity [5]
1.78Ga 1.65Ga 14:30 15:12 Colorado forms (oldest rocks found)[13]
350Ma 324Ma 21:52 22:16 Leadville limestone [14] formed in a shallow, warm sea that covered Central Colorado through the accumulation of calcite from the remains of marine life. Today that limestone, which became Yule marble, is 9,500 feet above sea level.
300Ma 248Ma 22:23 22:41 Ancestral Rockies [15] start and eroded away and Marble was located at the edge of the Ancestral Rockies. Limestone was stripped away by erosion leaving the rest buried until 72 million years ago.
248Ma 70Ma 22:41 23:36 Area was a flat costal plain over which dinosaurs roamed and during the later part was covered by another shallow sea [16]
72Ma 40Ma 23:37 23:47 1st of 3 uplifts (Laramide) [17] of present day Rockies but partially erodes
34Ma 28Ma 23:48:57 23:50:54 2nd of 3 uplifts of the present day Rockies [18]: Volcanic activity with magma intrusions pushing up from below crystallized the limsetone into marble. When the magma cooled it to crystallized turning into granite. The upward push of the magma against the limestone resulted in the marble being tilted upward and way from the intrusion, resulting in the 7 mile diameter Treasure Mountain Dome. The town of Marble lies at the edge of the dome.
25Ma 5Ma 23:51:52 23:58:20 Colorado Mineral Belt forms [19]
10Ma Present 23:56:45 24:00:00 3rd of 3 uplifts of the Rockies - Colorado [20]
0.05Ma Present 23:59:59:01:6 24:00:00 Development of Homo Sapien (modern human evolution) starts somewhere between 100,000 to 50,000 years ago. ("Clock Start" is 50,000 years)

Discovered: 1873 to mid 1880s

Marble was discovered in the Crystal River Valley in the spring of 1873 by geologist Sylvester Richardson. It was George Yule [C] (for whom the marble was later named), a prospector who "rediscovered" the marble in 1874. In the same year, an unknown person took some marble  — from which polished samples were made and appeared in Denver but failed to generate interest. The marble became lost again, and it took another 10 years to be rediscovered yet again by accident. By this time, prospectors who were searching for gold and silver, not marble started digging into Whitehouse Mountain where they encountered the 7-mile diameter Treasure Mountain Dome, which is solid marble. [5]

First Quarries Come And Go: 1884 to 1905

The local miners never had the capital to develop quarries and in the 1890s they sold marble claims to three companies outside the Crystal River Valley. Word of the marble began to spread with glowing test results from London (1887), the St Louis Exposition (1890) and the Chicago Exposition (1893). The companies had different degrees of development and success with the quarry of John Osgood (on the west side of Yule Creek) having a major contract almost from the start for the new state capitol, in Denver, Colorado. (Osgood was also the president of Colorado Fuel and Iron , with major coal and coke operations in Redstone, Colorado , 12 miles from the town of Marble). After this initial success, little production has accomplished by Osgood or the other two companies. In August 1904, the Strauss brothers started a quarry (east side of Yule Creek, in Treasure Mountain) but they had little marble production and no major contracts through their bankruptcy in 1917.

By 1905, the 1890 quarries were idle for all practical purposes. Because the four quarries had no more production to speak of they are not covered beyond 1904, leaving only the quarry started by the Colorado-Yule Marble Company in 1905. The marble deposit quarried by the CYMC had been owned by Osgood but never produced. Because of financial problems, Osgood sold the deposit to Channing Meek, who in turn sold it on 11 April 1905 to the newly formed Colorado-Yule Marble Company and subsequently became the company president. [5] [21]

Quarrying Difficulties

Why so little success over the first 20 years? The Osgood operation was well financed but even he was afflicted by the problems associated with developing and operating a quarry in the Yule Creek Valley (9,000-9,500 feet above sea level, steep slopes, deep snow and snow-mud slides). These factors limited the amount of marble that could be brought from the quarry down to the town. Also the lack of transportation to move enough of the stone out of Marble added to the difficulties. All together, these factors resulted in high operating costs that could not be covered by marble revenue. The same problems would also affect the next quarry and its operators. [4] [5]

Primary Quarry: 1905 to Today

1907: Looking east at the CYMC quarry, west side of Yule Creek. Visible is the marble vein over one mile wide with thickness of 169 to 239 feet.
1906: Looking north through the Yule Creek Valley leading down to Marble (out of view) 1,300 feet below. Left is Quarry 2 in the mountain side. Far right-below is Yule Creek at approx. 300 feet below the bottom of Quarry 2.

When the Colorado-Yule Marble Company (CYMC) arrived in Marble in 1905 they developed the last Yule marble quarry which is still in production today. The operation showed the unrealized promise of the previous 20 years with a 10 year boom in which marble was shipped to the east and west coasts with contracts reaching one million dollars. The marble boom also resulted in one for the town of Marble. While the CYMC overcame some quarry problems of the previous 20 years, the others (combined with new ones) ultimately lead to their bankruptcy in April 1917. Subsequent operations from 1922 through 1941 were on a much smaller scale with several different operators and dramatic fluctuations in quarrying until the next bust at the end of 1941. After almost 50 years the quarry reopened in September 1990. The 1905 problems of transporting marble out of the town have been largely solved (road and trucks) but the high costs of a mountain environment still exist today and there have been several operator changes with the last one in 2010. [4] [5]

Integrated Operation Developed: 1905 to 1907

The quarry was part of the integrated operation created by the CYMC during 1905 into 1907 from cutting the stone in the mountain to transporting CYMC-finished marble out of the town by railroad throughout the country. The subsequent operators up through the quarry shut down in 1941 retained the integration. Once marble was out of the quarry, it was lowered onto transport for movement down to Marble, a descent of 1,500 feet and 3.9 miles with grades up to 54%. In Marble, the stone entered an enormous mill site and transformed into a variety of finished objects. The site was 150 feet at its widest point and almost 1,400 feet under one roof totaling 108,000 square feet. (It was the largest operation of its kind in the world). Finished marble was moved into railroad cars for shipment throughout the country. [3]

A major problem was solved, that of no viable transportation to move large quantities of the stone out of Marble by building a railroad. In November 1906, the Crystal River and San Juan Railway (created by CYMC) completed a 6 mile railway line from Marble to Placita where it connected to the Crystal River Railway. The railway also increased the efficiency of getting supplies to the operation from outside the Crystal River Valley. The towns residents benefited by the railroad for transportation with the depot on the grounds of the mill site. In later years, livestock was transported out of the Crystal River Valley by the railroad.

The development also created a future problem that lead directly to receivership in July 1916 and bankruptcy in April 1917. While the spending created an operation using the best equipment and was technically efficient, a large debt was incurred that the company was unable to repay with marble revenue because of high operating costs (which also afflicted the operators prior to 1905). CYMC was already in financial trouble when a loan of $1,868,000 was approved in early 1913 and used to refinance the debt. [5]

Configuration: 1905 to Present


As of 1914: Quarries 1, 2 and 3 - Colorado-Yule Marble Company, .
Distance Dimension Area Covered [9]
500 feet Opening Span Right side of #1 to left side of #3

1905 development started the first of three quarry openings with #2 in 1905, #3 in 1907 and #1 in 1912. A fourth opening to the left of #3 (out of view) was started but did not become a producing quarry. Wooden derricks were located by and above the openings to lift blocks out of the quarries. The facilities to operate the quarry were completed by 1907-1908 with the boiler house (providing steam power for quarrying equipment) being the last major item (second building to the right of opening 2). In front of the boiler house is a 50 ton electric hoist and the hoist electric power house is to the right of the boiler house. Below the boiler house area near the bottom of the photo is the Pea Vine used to move marble from the quarry to the loading station several hundred feet away where it was placed on wagons for transport to the mill site. There are others facilities to the right of opening 1. To provide the needed electricity, the company built a hydro-electric plant with the generators located just east of the town limits and completed in July 1907.

By 1914 the quarry configuration had gone through several changes. Several buildings located to the right of opening 1 had relocated to opening 3, such as the machine shop (first building to the left of opening 2) offices (to the left of the machine shop) and the compressor house (first building on the right of opening 2 and left of the boiler house). The boarding house (not visible to the right of opening 1) was also relocated. A new structure (the Headtower, tall wooden derrick to the left of opening 3) was built by 1910. This (and a similar tower on the east side of Yule Creek) was part of the new 880 foot long cable system to lower quarried blocks 225 down to the new loading station and onto a railroad car towed by the electric tram finished in 1910. The electric tram replaced the Pea Vine. [3]

The 1914 configuration remained largely as show in the photo above-right until the quarry closed in 1941. After closing, the equipment inside were removed and the wood structures fell apart. Today only the Headtowers from 1910 remain.

When the quarry reopened in 1990, the functions of the previous structures that were needed were located inside the quarry. One major 1990 alteration to the cliff was the blasting of a 16 foot by 16 foot access tunnel for access to the quarry interior. [4]


<1918: Quarry interior walls showing marble blocks removed were 7 feet tall.
July 2011: The quarry floor looking south through the dark entrance tunnel to the quarry entrance.
Distance (feet) Dimension Area Covered [9]
750 Portal Span Right side of #1 to 250 feet past the left side of #3
300 Down Through #3 as of today (1931 - 125 feet)
225 Depth Through #3 as of today

In the early years, the quarry was three separate caverns inside the marble formation. By 1914 a tunnel connected the three quarries. As the quarry went further down into the marble the three caverns eventually joined into one. Though a marble quarry it has a common situation with coal mines and others being the need to constantly pump out water. With the marble dust created from the cutting, the floor is covered with marble mud. The interior temperature normally varies no more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer Winter [9]
40 (49 max) 20 (-40 coldest)

Workers: 1908 to 1917

Quarry Town: Looking south towards the quarry.
1912: Foundation cornerstone ceremony for the Columbus Catholic Church.
Quarry Employees Present 1905 - 1917 (max.)
15-20 125 +/-

The composition of quarry personnel were mostly American born while the mill site employed more Italian born. The 1910 Census records 57 quarry workers with 50 American born, 4 Italian, 2 German and 1 Austrian. The marble mill employed 291 people of which 110 were American born and 120 born in Italy. The quarry nationality percentage probably changed after this when the maximum number of workers reached about 125. As a side note, of the 481 town residents that were employed in 1910, 326 (66%) worked in the marble operation.

Residence location had only a few in Marble with the 1910 Census recording 14 quarry employees and rest in Quarry Town. Built by the CYMC, Quarry Town came into existence shortly after November 1908 as a settlement of bunkhouses and shacks just to the west and north of Quarry 1. It was built to alleviate a housing shortage caused by hiring more workers for the first large CYMC contract, the Cuyahoga County Court House, in Cleveland, Ohio. Though intended for single men, the 1910 Census records 66 residents of which 44 were men, 9 women and 13 children. In the winter time, Quarry Town folk would ski down to Marble then return by holding onto an electric tram going up to the quarry (an early Colorado ski lift). Quarry Town was abandoned after the quarry closed in 1941 and today only a few scraps remain located behind the quarry fence.

Marble went dry during this time when alcohol prohibition was passed by the voters on 3 December 1908. Prohibition was backed by the company because drunkenness was affecting the operation. This left workers in Quarry Town and folks in Marble without a close liquor source which lead to bootlegging. For those purchasing liquor from a bootlegger there were no legal worries for the law only made it illegal to sell or give away liquor but it was not illegal to purchase alcohol.

Wages became a source of conflict during this period. In 1909, daily wages ranged from $5 to $8 but no overtime. (During the 1930s (the Great Depression) they earned 40 cents an hours). A strike lasting three months started at the mill on 4 August 1909 and by the next day quarry workers started to join. The strikers were demanding an 8-hour day, time-and-a-half for overtime and double time on Sunday. The company management quickly won the support of the public. By September, only 20 men were working at the mill and even less at the quarry. The strike lasted until 2 November with the workers going back to work at reduced wages. Full operations were resumed within a week.

The civic mindedness of the workers and the company is demonstrated through their donations to build the all-marble Columbus Catholic Church in Marble (on Park Street, between West 3rd Street and West 2nd Street). The company was donating the marble and the workers their time to quarry, cut and build the church. The foundation was laid and a cornerstone ceremony was held in 1912. The quarrying though stopped in August 1912 when company president Channing Meek died of injuries received from an electric tram accident on the quarry road and his successor did not want to continue the marble donation. Today, much of the foundation is still present as is the cabin across the street to the right. [4] [5] [22] [23]

How Yule Marble Is Quarried

Before 1918: Marble block being broken loose from the mountain with leverage. Holes have been drilled and feathers-wedges inserted into the holes.

At the start of quarrying in the mid 1880s, marble was blasted out for the original quarriers were miners that is what they knew. As to how much marble is left, with what is in Treasure Mountain, there is more than can ever be taken out.

Year Per Ton Per Cubic Foot Sold by [9]
1911 $94 - $129 $8 - $11 ($182 - $250 in 2009 value) cubic foot
2011 $1,000 - $1,764 $85 - $150 metric ton

1905 to 1916

Between 1910-1917: The marble block hanging from the 50 ton electric hoist will be transfered to the carrier (right) for lowering 225 feet to the Loading Station for transport to the mill site.

Cutting a block involved a channeling machine (consisting of several drill bits and powered by electricity or steam) made vertical holes from the top down. Next the bottom was cut drilling horizontal holes. The block was then freed from the mountainside by inserting wedges into the horizontal holes then inserting feathers until the block broke free. (Sometimes in winter water was poured into the holes so the expansion of the freezing water would break the block loose). Sometimes a wire saw would cut the quarried block inside the quarry into individual blocks before being lift out.

Lifting out of the quarry required a hole to be made through the block so a cable could be inserted to pull the block away so other cables could be attached for lifting out of the quarry. The lifting was done with wooden derricks above and outside of the quarry or the 50 ton electric hoist if in Quarry 2 (which was Quarry 3 during the boom period of 1905 to 1916).

Once out of the quarry a block was moved to a loading station for transport to the mill site. The first method (1906 thru 1909) was the 50 ton electric hoist lowering the block down and onto a Pea Vine cable-powered cart. The cart then moved on rails with downgrades to 54% to a loading station where block was transferred to a wagon for towing to the mill site. The wagons were first towed by teams of four horses then in 1908 by a 110 horse power steam tractor previously used for logging. The road to the mill site was built in the 1890s by John Osgood to his quarry which a just below the CYMC started quarry. By 1910, the method changed with the 50 ton hoist attaching a block to an overhead cable for lowering 225 feet to a new loading station. Here the block was placed on a flatcar for towing by an electric tram (designed General Electric) on standard gauge railroad track to the town of Marble and into the mill site. Electricity to power the tram came from the CYMC built hydro-electric plant located just east of the town.

Reaching the mill site, the marble went into an expansive finishing mill built by CYMC from 1907 through 1910. At its widest point the mill site was 150 feet and almost 1,400 ft long totaling 108,000 square feet. (the largest finishing mill in the world under one roof). Here the marble was transformed into a variety of objects for shipment throughout the country.

Shipment of the finished marble was done by the Crystal River and San Juan Railway(created by CYMC and completed November 1906). Railroad tracks were parallel with the mill site and the marble was rolled on a cart out a mill site building and into the railroad car. In some shops the railroad cars were brought into the shop for loading. The company railroad then transported the marble 28 miles north to Carbondale, Colorado, where the cars were connected to other railway trains. [4] [5]


July 2011: Floor of Quarry 3: Diamond edged wire saw making a vertical cut through a block of marble. In the pit, the partially cut marble blocks are 10 feet tall.

Methods for cutting a block can vary depending on the formation and other factors but usually involves three types of saws (wire and two chain types of which all three are diamond edged). The usual approach starts with a horizontal cut at the bottom after which metal rollers are inserted (on which to move the block away from the mountain after all sides have been cut). Next the back cut with a wire saw followed by chain saws to cut the vertical sides. A metal bag is then inserted behind the back cut and filled with water which pushes the block away from the mountain (on the metal rollers). The block is then rigged for lifting by forklift and placed on a haul truck and driven out of the mountain and down to the staging area on the grounds of the old mill site. (When the quarry opened in 1990 a 16 foot by 16 foot tunnel had been blasted through the mountain and into the quarry interior so marble could be driven out of the quarry).

The cutting rates of today are many factors greater than in 1911 when a wire saw was sometimes used before a block was removed. In 1911, such a saw was new technology and had a cut rate of about 2 inches an hour. A modern wire or chain saw can cut more than 50 inches in the same time.[9]

Operations: 1905 to Today

Boom: 1905 to 1916

As of 1914: Quarries 1, 2 and 3 - Colorado-Yule Marble Company.
<1918: Channeling machine (a series of drills) for making vertical holes in marble. Background-block being rigged for lifting out of the quarry.

By July 1907 the initial construction of the quarry and the rest of the system was finished but marble was being shipped out before this but only small amounts and advertising pieces. The first major contract came in late October 1907 to supply $500,000 worth of marble for the Cuyahoga County Court House, in Cleveland, Ohio and set off a quarrying boom. In spite of the increased quarrying, by 1913 the company was in financial trouble due to the huge start-up debt and high operating costs not generating enough revenue to pay down the debt. A loan of $1,868,000 was obtained in early February 1913 and used to refinance to debt. In spite of the financial difficulty orders kept coming in with the first contract of one million dollars for the Equitable Building, New York City, in August 1913 for 1,200,000 square feet of marble. The most expensive contract in the history of Yule marble at nearly $1,100,000 was awarded 10 March 1914 for the complete exterior of the Lincoln Memorial. [6] [2] The marble came out of Quarry 3 with the first finished shipment leaving Marble on 25 May 1914 and the final on 16 June 1916. Of the marble quarried, 600 marble blocks weighed 18-22 tons and the 36 columns required 107,000 cubic of marble.

As the quarry boomed, so did the town reaching its population peak from 1912 through 1914 of 1,400 to 1,500 residents, including a large number of skilled Italian marble worker immigrants with most of them in the mill site. There were two newspapers, three hotels, movie theater, ice cream parlor, 5 ice houses, and 9 stables among other businesses. [4] [5] [24] [25]

Bust: 1916 to 1921

The bust came when the company went into receivership on 18 July 1916 (ceasing operations 15 April 1917), barely one month after the final shipment of marble for the Lincoln Memorial. The bust came about from many factors such as the loss of skilled foreign craftsmen who returned to their native country to fight in World War One. The war also caused a decline in the demand for marble. But it was financial going back to the start of the company in 1905 that brought on the bust. Even though the quarry had received a lot of contracts and some very lucrative, the operation (quarry, mill site and railroad) never made enough profit to pay off the start up funding. A final disposition of the quarry was not completed until 4 April 1921 due to various groups vying for the assets.

The town declined rapidly to a population of 50 people in 1920 according to the 1920 Census. The bank closed in 1918 as did the remaining newspaper. The last train left Marble in 1918. [4] [5]

Revival: 1922 to 1941

1990: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Note the two cracks on the side of the Tomb.

Out of bankruptcy in April 1921, the operation was on a much smaller scale than before the 1917 bust. The amount quarried was greatly reduced and experienced several fluctuations in output and changes in operators. The fortunes of the town also went up and down with the marble fluctuation as reflected by the changes in population by climbing to 600 by 1926 (550 as 1930) then dropping to 175 by 1933 with a rise to 225 from 1939 and into 1941.

Though the quarry was out of bankruptcy in April 1921, quarrying did not resume until April 1922 and with divided ownership. The bankruptcy settlement resulted in the Carrara Company owning the quarry and the tram line to the mill site while Yule Marble of Colorado owned the mill site and the railroad. Both companies realized the need to cooperate and functioned as an integrated operation and later merged into Consolidated Yule Marble Company, 24 April 1924. There were other changes of owner and operators with the Vermont Marble Company, taking over as of November 1928. They in turn formed Yule Colorado Company on 14 December 1928 which continued up to the shut down at the end of 1941.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier marble (seven pieces in four layers) was cut from Quarry 3 at 125 feet below the opening. Only the main block is covered (with the wreaths, three Greek figures and inscription) because the history of the other six pieces is not known. The main block was worked by 75 men for one year until a 56 ton block came out of the quarry in late January 1931. When the block was cut from the mountain it weighed 124 tons. A wire saw was then brought in to cut the block down to 56 tons. Because of the weight, Vermont Marble Company sent to the quarry a special derrick that was reinforced and heavily rigged. The initial lift was just enough to clear the quarry floor so the block could hang for 15 minutes while the hoist was inspected for stress. The final cutting was done in Vermont and the carved at the Arlington National Cemetery was by the Piccirilli Brothers (who also carved the statue of Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial).[D] [4] [5] [7] [26]

Bust: 1941 to 1988

Although there was some increased activity in the 1930s, World War II ostensibly ended it. In 1942 the mill site was taken apart and the railroad lines (from the quarry to Placita) were removed. A hoped for renewed marble demand did not happen after World War II ended. The quarry sat idle and the interior filled water.

The towns population also declined to about 30 people in 1943. After the war ended more moved out until there was only one person left. The population did revive some with 26 registered voters in 1956. [4] [5]

Revival: 1988 to Present

15 September 1990: First marble block quarried since 1941 coming into Marble crossing the bridge over the Crystal River.
1908-1909: Steam tractor bringing marble to the mill site (right side of the bridge over the Crystal River
As of 2005: Background - Inventory blocks of Yule Marble on the grounds of the former mill site. Foreground - fluted column section carved in the mill site prior to 1942.

In 1988, Denver oilman Stacy Dunn and another associate undertook the reopening of the quarry forming the new Colorado-Yule Marble Company. Mr Dunn though was killed in a car accident before the opening. Getting the quarry to operating condition required pumping out millions of gallons of water among other repairs. On 15 September 1990, the first marble block to come out of the quarry since 1941 arrived in Marble. Riding in the truck was Elmer Bair, the 1931 motorman of the lead electric tram that brought down the body block for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in February 1931. [4] But as with the original Colorado-Yule Marble Company 80 years before, the present named company went bankrupt in 1997. Since that time there have been several changes of operator.

From To Operator [9]
1997 1999 Bath Stonework's (of England)
1999 2004 Rex Loseby (Sierra Minerals) who was involved in the formation of Colorado Yule Marble Company but had pulled out.
2004 2010 Poly Corp (of Canada)
2010 Present Luciani Locati Enrico & C.s.a.s (of Carrara, Italy)

Today only a few people of the 110 or so full time Marble residents make up the 15 - 20 quarry employees. The town does receive a monthly rent from the quarry company to use part of the old mill site grounds (West 3rd Street and the Crystal River) to store quarried blocks until they are shipped to customers.

Replacement Marble For Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

21 October 2011: Completed repair of the cracks in the Tomb.

Almost from the time the marble arrived in Arlington, cracks were noticed in the main block (wreaths, Greek figures and the inscription) and grew longer over time. By 1990, Arlington National Cemetery was studying options, one of which was replacing the damaged block.

In September 2002, George Haines, a retired entrepreneur and car dealer in Glenwood Springs read that the quarry crew "was getting ready to look for and replace the tomb's marble and that the (Veterans Administration) and Arlington were accepting bids on the replacement piece." With that he decided to pay the $31,000 for the replacement block. Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent John Metzler requested a letter on the donation and was sent one. Mr Haines also arranged for free transportation to Arlington National Cemetery. [27] In 2003 a prospective block was found and quarrying began. To record the activity, Ron Bailey photographed the event. When the block came free from the mountain, imperfections were found so the block was rejected. (The heart of the block was used for a statue of President George H.W. Bush). [28] Another search started with a flawless block quarried and brought down to the storage are in Marble, in 2005. The repair or replacement of the Tomb has been a source of public controversy. [E]

Since 2005, the block has remained on the same yellow flatbed trailer in the north-west corner of the storage yard. Opposition to replacing the block had been growing. In 2007, the defense appropriation bill contained a specific provision preventing block replacement. [29] In September 2009, the Army decided to repair instead of replace. The repairs of April 2010 failed after two months and were done in September 2011. [30] A 21 October 2011 inspection by the Army Corps of Engineers and other experts pronounced the repairs successful. [31]

State rock

On March 9, 2004, Yule Marble became the official state rock of Colorado. The designation was the result of petitioning by Girl Scout Troop 357 of Lakewood, Colorado [32] of the Colorado General Assembly, who in turn passed a bill that was signed by Governor Bill Owens (R). [1]

Site access

Because it is a working mine, casual visitors are not permitted. Marble pieces are available for purchase, however. [33]

See also

  • List of types of marble



  1. ^ Tennessee marble is sedimentary, and is therefore classified as limestone. Powell, Wayne G. "Tennessee Marble". http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/geology/powell/613webpage/NYCbuilding/TennesseeMarble/TennesseeMarble.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  2. ^ As of 1992 there were four grades of marble sold that had variances of grain size and density. "Calcite grain size of the four grades of Yule marble sold, table 4". Bulletin 2162 US Geologic Survey. p. 9. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:YuleMarbleGrainSize.jpg. 
  3. ^ Yule was born 30 June 1835 in Grange Parish of Banffshire, Scotland. His parents were John Yule and Janet Thompson, and in 1896 he married Lizzie McBurney. He died 8 August 1910 in Gunnison County, Colorado. "Yule Marble". Yule Family website. http://yulefamily.com/yulemarble.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  4. ^ From Murphy Marble.
  5. ^ See, Tomb of the Unknowns repair controversy and Damage and repair to the Tomb Monument.


  1. ^ a b "Yule Marble designated as state rock of Colorado; Colorado State Archives Symbols & Emblems". Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration. http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/history/symbemb.htm. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Colorado Yule Marble  — - Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial"; US Geological Survey - Bulletin 2162; 1999 (Extensive technical analysis of Yule marble composition vs other marbles)" (pdf). http://pubs.usgs.gov/pdf/bulletin/b2162/b2162.pdf. Retrieved 19 November 2011. )
  3. ^ a b c Boughner, H.D. (March, 1908). Colorado-Yule Marble Company: Reports of Engineers and Marble Experts". 5th Avenue & 32nd Street, New York City, New York: Knickerbocker Syndicate. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McCollum, Oscar D. (1992). MARBLE, A Town Built On Dreams. Denver, Colorado: Sundance Publications Ltd. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Vandenbusche, Duane; Myers, Rex (February, 1996). Marble Colorado: City of Stone. Denver, Colorado: Golden Bell Press. 
  6. ^ a b Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record: Lincoln Memorial - set of 28 drawings. National Park Service/Library of Congress. 1993. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=hhsheet&fileName=dc/dc0400/dc0472/sheet/browse.db&action=browse&recNum=0&title2=Lincoln%20Memorial,%20West%20Potomac%20Park,%20Washington,%20District%20of%20Columbia,%20DC&displayType=1&maxCols=2&itemLink=r?ammem/hh:@field(DOCID+@lit(DC0472)). Retrieved 20 November, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Collections and Personal Papers: Alumni Papers: Lorimer Rich (architect, Syracuse 1914 graduate)  — Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. University of Syracuse archives. http://archives.syr.edu/collections/alumni/rich_box.html. Retrieved 19 November 2011.  including 44 drawings not digitally available.
  8. ^ Where Yule marble was used - 1905 through 1941 from the book "MARBLE - A Town Built on Dreams. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:YuleMarbleUsedIn.jpg. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Moore, Charles, Museum Director (booklet of specific facts and details about the Marble area). Marble 2012. Marble, Colorado. p. 28. 
  10. ^ "Metamorphic Rock - Colorado Geologic Survey". http://geosurvey.state.co.us/geology/metamorphicrocks/Pages/MetamorphicRocks.aspx. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Chemical Analysis of Yule Marble table 1, "Colorado Yule Marble - Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial"". 1999. p. 4. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ChemicalAnalysisYuleMarble.jpg. 
  12. ^ Colorado geological development
  13. ^ Oldest rocks found in Colorado
  14. ^ Leadville Limestone (Mississippian period lime) - Colorado
  15. ^ Ancestral Rocky Mountains - Colorado
  16. ^ Dinosaur era in Colorado
  17. ^ 1st of 3 uplifts (Laramide), the Rocky Mountains - Colorado
  18. ^ 2nd of 3 uplifts, Magma intrusions create the marble - Colorado
  19. ^ Colorado Mineral Belt forms - Colorado
  20. ^ 3rd of 3 uplifts of the Rocky Mountains - Colorado
  21. ^ "Chart of Yule Marble Quarries and Operators: 1884 to Present"; by Charles Moore, Museum Director, Marble Historical Society with data from book "Marble Colorado: City of Stone" and "Marble 2012"
  22. ^ Johnson, Thanos (September, 1945). drawing of Quarry Town (with text description). 
  23. ^ McCollum, Oscar D. (2003). Historical Vignettes of Marble, Colorado. Oscar D. McCollum. 
  24. ^ September 1914 map of Marble, Colorado by the Sanborn Map Company, 11 Broadway, New York City, New York
  25. ^ 1913 Map of Marble, Colorado, by Homer Knouse
  26. ^ Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, "The Memory Stone", April 1931, by the Vermont Marble Company (retyped for web display)
  27. ^ "Search for Tomb replacement block". Glenwood Springs Independent. January, 2003. http://www.postindependent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Site=GP&Date=20030105&Category=VALLEYNEWS&ArtNo=301040006&Ref=AR. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  28. ^ Ron Bailey photos and text while covering the 2003 Tomb block quarrying
  29. ^ Van Dyke, Jesse Broder (26 September, 2001). "Akaka-Webb Amendment to Halt Replacement of the Monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns is Approved by Senate". Washington, D.C.: Hawaii Reporter. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?0e425682-964e-4ca3-a18e-5b79fd449c2d. Retrieved 19 November 2011.  Wayback machine/Internet archive
  30. ^ "2010 and 2011 Tomb repairs - Preserving a National Treasure". US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District. http://www.youtube.com/user/armyengineersnorfolk#p/u/1/L2LIvGB_89I. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  31. ^ "Tomb inspection by US Army Corps of Engineers". 21 October 2011. http://www.flickr.com/photos/armyengineersnorfolk/sets/72157627829907681/. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  32. ^ "Colorado State Rock". Net States. http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/rocks/co_yule_marble.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  33. ^ "Yule Marble Quarry". Marble Tourism Association. 2007. http://marbletourismassociation.org/yule_marble_quarry.html. Retrieved 20 November 2011.  (photos and Quarry FAQ)

External links

July 2011: Block of Yule marble in the quarry, 1,300 feet above and 3.9 miles from the town of Marble, Colorado.

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