Casket Quarry | Duluth Crushed Stone Co.


A recent posting of a 90-year-old newspaper clipping on the West Duluth Memories Facebook page inspired me to search for a little information on the Duluth Crushed Stone Co., since I’ve never really known much about exactly what went on at the ol’ quarry, other than obviously some company came and dug up some rock and hauled it out.

So I’ve gathered a little info and maybe I’ll add more here later. For starters, here’s that clipping, from the Oct. 2, 1922 Duluth Herald.

According to the 1943 book Mineral Resources of Minnesota, edited by William H. Emmons and Frank F. Grout, “the Duluth Crushed Stone Company quarried gabbro at Duluth for road stone, railroad ballast, concrete aggregate, rubble for retaining walls, and riprap (large fragments for piers, breakwaters, etc.).”

Oliver Bowles’ 1918 book The Structural and Ornamental Stones of Minnesota, provides a bit more detail.

The clip below, from the Jan. 20 edition of Cement and Engineering News, refers to a different quarry but provides a bit more info on Duluth Crushed Stone Co.

But the mother load for those who want to geek out on quarry details is the 1912 book Rock Drilling, with Particular Reference to Open Cut Excavation and Submarine Rock Removal, by Richard T. Dana and William Lawrence Saunders. And the whole damn book is embeddable.

Here are some highlights from the above-embedded book:

The Duluth Crushed Stone Company operates a quarry at the end of 57th Avenue West, in West Duluth. The rock is a hard bastard granite in its natural bed in the side of the rock hill that rises from Duluth Harbor and follows the shore of Lake Superior east, and the St. Louis River west from Duluth. In many places the rock outcrops, and above the present quarry, rock is to be seen on the surface where no stripping will be necessary. The maximum depth of stripping is in no place over 3′, except where faults occur, and the average depth is not more than 1′.

The condition of the rock varies greatly in different parts of the quarry, and also in the same part of the quarry as the face is worked back. In some places the rock is absolutely solid without a check or irregularity in structure other than is ordinarily found in this kind of rock, while elsewhere it will be badly cracked and full of seams, with its entire structure irregular and badly broken up. This latter condition exists especially in the west end of the quarry.

The product of the quarry is crushed stone in sizes from dust to 2.5″ and rubble of any size as ordered. The structure of the rock does not permit of its being taken out for dimension stone or of its being cut easily, although it could without doubt be worked into regular shapes if occasion arose. The stone company does not undertake to furnish such stone, however, and so makes no effort to quarry it.

Beside its regular output of crushed stone and crusher dust the quarry is at present filling two contracts for rubble. One of these is with the Great Northern Railroad, and calls for quarry run rubble up to 6″ size. This material is loaded into skips by hand and is raised by a locomotive crane and dumped into gondolas. The other contract is for furnishing quarry run rubble up to 10 tons size, the number and amount of blocks of the latter size being regulated by the demand of the purchasers of the stone. This stone is being used in the construction of a breakwater at the Superior Entry of the Duluth-Superior Harbor, and as the portion now being constructed is in shallow water the amount of 10-ton stones being shipped is about 50% of the total amount. The heavy stones are used for paving the surface of the breakwater.


At the present time the rock in the quarry is running so unevenly and is so seamy and broken up in its bed that it is extremely difficult to obtain the desired amount of 10-ton stones. For the rest of this contract nothing as small as a two-man stone is shipped, but only large blocks which are handled by the crane. All this material is loaded on cars by the crane, being chained and lifted.

It goes on and on.



Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

By the way, another thing that got me thinking about the quarry this month was a Duluth News Tribune story which noted that a graduate student in the University of Minnesota's College of Design spent the fall quarter creating an imaginary plan to turn the "abandoned granite quarry in West Duluth into a world-class ice-climbing destination and speed-skating oval."

Fun and crazy.

Derek Montgomery

about 5 years ago

Thanks for the info Paul!  As someone who moved here about six years ago, but now will be calling Duluth home for a long, long time, it's awesome to read these interesting stories about Duluth's history.


about 5 years ago

Paul, I've investigated this quarry several times -- the first as part of a field trip with the Geological Society of Minnesota (see photo). 

An interesting side note: in later years (1970s and beyond) the rock from here was quarried and sold as what's called "Minnesota Lunar Simulant," because its composition is so similar to that of rocks brought back from the Moon during the Apollo missions. U of M geologist Dr. Paul Weiblen was involved with that industry -- I think the Japanese were very interested in it for whatever reason. I'm not sure if it's even still active. Anyway, here's a link to one of the articles where the quarry is mentioned in the abstract (as is often the case the whole article have to purchase): 

Dissolution of a lunar basalt simulant as affected by pH and organic anions

I appreciate your relating the site's history. Thanks!


about 5 years ago

Interesting! This spot has been in a lot of conversations lately. A couple things. This is the focal point of Duluth ice climbing. Second point, this is not city of Duluth property but is St. Louis County tax-forfeited land.


about 5 years ago

This is cool information, it's really neat to see that the railroad came up into it as well. They talk about a breakwater, but wasn't this the same quarry that supplied stone for the canal as well?

Also, what is the smaller looking one back east a ways, by the Lake Superior Hiking trail? It's between First and Third streets west, in what's called central park. It sort of looks like a quarry, and there's some ruins off 1st that could be related. Google Map's new 45-degree view, (basically like Bing's Birdseye view but more updated), shows some tents set up, maybe homeless, or extremely adventurous people.

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

I think you're referring to the quarry briefly mentioned in the post about Point of Rocks.

In the early 1900s, the city crushed rock there for building materials. This is a photo from the top.


about 5 years ago

Thanks for the info and post link! I tend to forget that the Point of Rocks is bigger than I think it is and usually just associate it with the part over near the bottom of Mesaba Avenue.

Allyson Czechowicz

about 3 years ago

Paul, I am that crazy graduate student who spent a full quarter designing Casket Quarry.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 years ago

Allyson, I fully expect you to publish your entire quarry plan on PDD.

Allyson Czechowicz

about 3 years ago

I can do that. Let me hunt it up.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 years ago

Apparently, other names for the quarry area are "Quarry Park" and "Duluth Sand and Gravel Quarry." And it seems there is a mini-master plan in the works.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL CITY OF DULUTH, MN Request for Proposal 15-0460 Quarry Park Mini-Master Plan June 19, 2015 PROJECT OVERVIEW The City of Duluth’s Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) is seeking a statement of qualifications and a price quote for the professional services of a comprehensive parks and recreation plan for the abandoned Duluth Sand and Gravel Quarry. Quarry Park is the informal, popular name for the abandoned quarry located below Skyline Parkway in West Duluth, and above the neighborhood between 46th Avenue West and 59th Avenue West. The land was originally owned and worked by the Duluth Crushed Stone Co. throughout the early 20th century. By the time the company ceased operations it had quarried-out a 1000-foot-long, 100-foot-high cliff of black gabbro. Informally, since its abandonment the Quarry has been a location for locals to walk their dogs, hike, picnic, and enjoy a spectacular view of Duluth. As recently as the 1970s, Quarry Park’s reputation as a steep and spectacular climbing location has been augmented by the focused development of mixed climbing routes. Today, it is a premier site and training ground for mixed climbing throughout the winter months, utilized by recreational climbers, university climbing programs, and guided groups. The City of Duluth, in partnership with local neighborhoods and the Duluth Climbers Coalition, hopes to turn the Quarry into a friendly neighborhood park with world-class ice climbing as a major component. A mini-master plan is needed to insure the creation of a well planned community park, as well as establishing a high quality, progressive and safe ice climbing experience. GENERAL PROJECT SCOPE The Quarry Park Mini-Master Plan will serve as a long-range plan to meet the community’s park, trail, and recreational needs. The project should include park and facility inventory and assessment, community input, program assessment, maintenance management, planning analysis, probable construction cost estimates, and implementation strategies. Completion of the Quarry Park Mini-Master Planning processes will include the following: - Site Inventory and Analysis of existing site conditions - A preliminary plan or options to be reviewed by all interested parties - Plan revisions and possible additions of phases - A final mini-master plan for approval by all entities - Narrative of mini-master plan, element phasing, project goals and objectives - Budget and budget narrative The City of Duluth intends to hire a consultant who will work with all of the partners (identified below); the consultant will host one pubic meeting for Quarry Park to gather input from interested parties; and will use that information to produce a comprehensive Mini-Master Plan. That plan would be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission before receiving approval from the City Council. POTENTIAL MINI-MASTER PLAN PARTICIPANTS The consultant should meet first with City of Duluth staff (Parks and Recreation, Planning, Property and Facilities, and Maintenance Operations), then the identified neighborhood community club and/or business group, and get a good idea of the current and near future land use issues. Other Mini-Master Plan participants may include but are not limited to: - Neighborhood community clubs - Neighborhood business groups - Restoration groups - Historic preservation groups - Park and Recreation Commission - Tree Commission - Neighbors and general public - Outdoor recreation user groups Issues to Consider in the Mini-Master Plan Process may include but are not limited to: - ADA – trail and facility accessibility issues - Off-leash dogs and dog feces - Vegetation management, including invasive species removal and habitat restoration - Working relationship between existing trails/urban pathways and proposed trails - Historical features - Wayfinding and connectivity to local neighborhoods adjoining Parks facilities including Brewers Park the Duluth Traverse and the Superior Hiking Trails - Safety- long term maintenance considerations - Park infrastructure sustainability upgrades and recommendations - Environmental stewardship best management practice recommendations - Stormwater runoff best management practice recommendations -The planning nuances of a winter ice climbing facility Consultant Requirements to Bid on the Mini-Master Plans: - Demonstrated experience in planning parks with adventure based outdoor recreation components - Working knowledge of various ecological and natural systems including, stormwater runoff and invasive species issues. - Ability to lead members of the public through a participatory process to arrive at a final plan - Demonstrated understanding of currents trends in Park infrastructure sustainability and environmental stewardship -Must have relevant experience in the planning of destination quality winter climbing facilities - Thorough understanding of sustainable natural surface trail planning and design AVAILABLE RESOURCES The information available for this project is the 2010 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the 2011 Trail and Bikeway Master Plan, the ½ and ½ Tax Vision documents. The three are available on the City’s Parks Division website. PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS Submittal of the Request for Proposals should include the following criteria and structured accordingly: 1. Cover Letter 2. Firm Information a. Name of Firm/Discipline b. Contact Information c. Staff Size 3. Three References we may contact with whom similar work has been completed within the last three years and proposed facilities and changes have taken place. 4. Provide an overview and description of the firm's total qualifications including any special or unique services it may provide. 5. Specific name and qualifications of the lead member of the project team who will be the primary contact and have full responsibility for the project. Also, complete qualifications must be submitted for other members of the project team. 6. List whether or not this is a joint venture or if your agency is the prime consultant for the entire project. Include any sub-contractors who will be working with your firm on this project and what their responsibilities will be as well. 7. A brief description of the scope of work, touching on each specific element you would provide to achieve the desired plan. 8. Cost of your services in detail including hours dedicated to each area defined within the scope of services. This will allow Parks and Recreation staff to selectively choose what services additional or otherwise. Cost will only be a factor after the selection process is completed. 9. Detail meetings with Parks and Recreation staff, Parks Commission, City officials, stakeholder interviews, and public forums. 10. Proposed schedule for the project. FEES To facilitate the contract negotiation process with ranked Firms(s) and contract execution for services, each proposal should include its Fees for the project. This fee information must be submitted with the RFP. Failure to submit fee information may result in rejection by the City of Duluth. The proposal shall be based on a total estimated, not to exceed, hourly fee in the proposal. Include any sub-consultant costs. The proposal should also include a schedule for hourly billing rates for each employee who may be involved in services. Include rates for miscellaneous charges such as copies and mileage. SELECTION The proposals will be reviewed by City Staff. The intent of the selection process is to review proposals submitted by at least three qualified consultants and make an award based upon qualifications as described therein. A 100-point scale will be used to create the final evaluation recommendations. The factors and weighting on which proposals will be judged are: - Work Plan 25% - Qualifications/experience of the personnel and company working on the project 20% - Understanding of the project scope 15% - Completeness of the proposal 10% - History (completeness & timeliness) of past work with the City of Duluth 10% - Project costs/fees 20% The consultant team should have expertise in comprehensive long-range park planning and park design of similar size and scope. Each proposal will be evaluated based on qualifications. The City has the right to refuse any and all RFP’s in whole or in part and select the proposal deemed by the governing body to be in the best interest of the City. Firms that are not selected will be notified in writing. PROJECT COMPLETION DATES July 6, 2015 Proposals Due (Close of Business, 2:00 PM) July 8, 2015 Selection Complete July 10, 2015 Notice to Proceed Aug 1 to Oct 31, 2015 Public Process Nov 19, 2015 Final Mini-Master Plan Submitted *This schedule assumes that we are waiting for the land to be in City Ownership. SUBMITTAL REQUIREMENTS Send one paper copy and a CD with an electronic version of the proposal no later than 2 pm on Friday, July 6, 2015 where it will be time stamped in and acknowledged as received and compliant to proposal requirements. Send to: City of Duluth 411 W First St City Hall, Purchasing Room 100 Duluth, MN 55802 RFP inquiries can be directed to Jim Shoberg , Project Coordinator, Parks and Recreation at 218-730-4316 or jshoberg @ DuluthMN.gov LIMITATIONS This Request for Proposal does not commit the City of Duluth to award a contract and pay costs incurred in the preparation of the proposal of this request, or to procure a contract for services or supplies. The City of Duluth specifically reserves the right to accept or reject any or all proposals, to negotiate with any qualified sources, to cancel in part or its entirety this Request for Proposal, to waive any proposal requirements, to investigate the qualifications of any proposal, to obtain new proposals, or proceed to have the service provided in any way as necessary to serve the best interests of the City of Duluth. All materials submitted in response to this RFP will become property of the City and will become public record after the evaluation process is completed and an award decision made.

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