The stone industry has been important to the
Pacolet area since prehistoric times. The American Indians used the local
soapstone quarries long before the coming
of the white Europeans. The Indians also used naturally occurring field
stone to make fish traps like those in the Broad River just outside the
town of Carlisle below Union. The European pioneers continued this practice.
They used field stone for building their chimneys, foundations for their
houses and barns, to line their wells and in small dams. It was eventually
discovered that under much of the Pacolet area, there was a plentiful supply
of granite. The granite was produced deep in the earth’s crust as molten
rock and minerals cooled millions of years ago.
The quarrying of the granite became a commercial venture in Pacolet
in 1894. Today, we do not think of many people in the Pacolet vicinity making
their living as stone masons and stone cutters. However, in the very interesting
recollection of life in Pacolet in 1909, the
author describes many Pacolet men employed in these trades. One very visible
sight of this stonework profession is in the stone walls that can be found
throughout the mill village beside the sidewalks and along the roads.
We take these stone structures for granted today. However, if these had
to be built at today’s wages and prices, the replacement cost would be tremendous.
Some of the granite from the quarry was used to build the South
Carolina State House in Columbia. The original quarry operated until 1929
when it was closed. It did not operate again until 1950 when it was bought
by The Campbell Limestone Company of Gaffney. Click on this link for a satellite photo of the
present quarry and the location of the old one. When
the quarry operations stopped, the original quarry pit filled with water.
This was used for a "swimming hole" by local folks but it was dangerous. Several
people were drowned in the old quarry. The following photo shows the pit
Examples of stone walls found through out Pacolet Mills.
In 1968, Campbell Limestone merged with Vulcan Materials of Birmingham,
Alabama. Vulcan still operates the quarry to this day. Vulcan is a huge
company. The Pacolet operation is engaged in surface mining and the crushing
of granite stone. Their products are used in construction projects of all
A second company that has a facility at the quarry is the Sloan Construction
Company. They buy and use crushed stone for the construction industry.
Another company was started at the quarry in 1957 as Paco Products.
Over time and reorganizations it became Spartan Minerals Corporation that
is still in operation. They process, sell and ship feldspaphic sand
to ceramic and glass companies. They also grind and sell mica to other specialty
The operations in the quarry are very impressive and done on a large scale.
The following photograph was taken in the Vulcan Quarry during a tour in
2007. Click on this link to see more photos
taken in the quarry that will give you a sense of how large the quarry is.