Much of Clearfield County’s industrial past relied on mining, lumbering, brickyards and railroads. Anyone would be remiss to overlook the cutting, removal and use of native sandstone at quarries such as the one at Roaring Run in Pike Township.
Two, now deceased, county historians Ed Morgan of Curwensville and Jane Elling of Mahaffey wrote both in the form of a historical book and a number of reflective historical articles, of the impressive input of labor and the uses for the great output of high-quality sandstone from the Roaring Run quarry.
Proper cutting of great blocks of sandstone required far more than just hammers and physical strength. Measuring and mathematical skills, calculating the density and therefore quality of the stone were essential.
The safe and effective construction of pulleys and winches, used to cut and stack blocks that were quarried from deposits, sometimes 20- to 30-feet thick, was part of the process.
Sadly, there were occasional injuries and fatalities in the stone-cutting industry as there were in many others of the time.
The stone-cutting industry drew both native born and immigrant laborers. Many immigrants came from Italy, with its rich culture of everyday stone construction and its magnificent eras of Ancient Roman and later Renaissance buildings that stand out as some of the best of western civilization.
These immigrants overcame the bigotry that they sometimes encountered by expressing their highly-cultured historical heritage with their innate talent and their dedication to hard work. Stone-cutting, if anything, was labor intensive.
Clearfield County sandstone was in high demand. Scores of buildings, ranging from the Curwensville Post Office and University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning came from county stone deposits.
Railroad bridges throughout Pennsylvania had their beginnings in Pike Township. Memorably, so did the Philadelphia Art Museum’s steps, as well remembered with Sylvester Stalone’s upward run in the movie, Rocky.
The two photos show Roaring Run laborers taking a breather to pose for the camera. It was soon back to work for them.