Did you know that granite is among the oldest rock on earth? Did you know that granite is found naturally in a wide spectrum of colors? And did you know that granite endures time and weathering much better than marble? These are just a few facts you’ll learn at the 5,000 square foot Rock of Ages Visitor Center. Begin your visit by first signing up for a narrated quarry tour, and while waiting, watch a film that introduces you to George Milne, founder of this rock solid business. The movie explains the history and significance of Barre granite from about 1885 through present day. In 1914, an advertising agency chose the "Rock of Ages" name and branded the granite nationally. By 1924, the company was so successful that people visiting Vermont flocked to the quarries just to look into the "holes" — carving out a brand new tourist industry.
When it’s time for your quarry tour, you’ll caravan in your own vehicle (or a shuttle bus might be used during the summer). It’s just a short drive away and everyone follows the tour guide’s car. Once at the top, you’ll be looking down into 600-foot deep Smith Quarry. Look a bit familiar? This quarry was featured in the 2009 Star Trek movie. If you’re visiting weekdays, you can peer over the edge and watch quarriers “channel” world-famous granite into mammoth blocks. Derricks (cranes) capable of lifting up to 250 tons, then haul the blocks to the surface. It’s especially interesting to learn that what used to take hundreds of men to accomplish 100 years ago, now can be done by about five highly skilled employees.
On weekends and holidays, there are no workers in the quarry, but it’s a lot quieter. Since the quarry site itself is very impressive and the tour guide extremely knowledgeable, you’ll enjoy the tour no matter the day of the week. When you get back to the Visitor Center, be sure to wander into the building next door. Here you can take a free self-guided factory tour and watch a master sculptor transforming rough granite into a work of art. You can even sandblast your own souvenir trivet or tile to take home.
IF YOU GO:
Rock of Ages
558 Graniteville Road
Graniteville, (Barre Town) Vermont 05654
(5 miles off I-89, exit 6)