“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Califon in Hunterdon County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Middle Valley Trap Rock & Mine Company

Tettertown Preserve

The Middle Valley Trap Rock & Mine Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Alan Edelson, March 29, 2011
1. The Middle Valley Trap Rock & Mine Company Marker
Inscription. Lawrence Hager Trimmer (1847-1909) was a commanding presence in the Middle Valley community, having represented the Second District of Hunterdon County, in the New Jersey State Assembly, from 1889-1891. As a prominent businessman he founded and served as director of the High Bridge National Bank. As a mill owner specializing in the manufacturing of peach baskets, his 30 workers could turn out 4,000 baskets daily. As mine owner of the Middle Valley Trap Rock and Mine Company, he supplied crushed stone such as gneiss and diabase from the quarries in this ravine for macadam road surfaces an railroad ballast. These types of rock were considered the hardest in the state.

The mining industry at Teetertown began in 1896 and was typical of the highly mechanized methods used widely in the northeastern U.S. during the Victorian Era. Strategically spaced, 2-1/4' wide, by 6"(+/-) deep holes were first drilled into the rock face, with drills powered by a 150 horsepower steam engine. Dynamite was then carefully packed deep into the holes, with paper/gunpowder fuses providing sufficient time for workers to clear the site. The ensuing blast would dislodge tons of rock, to be crushed into smaller stones and gravel, as needed. The quarried stone was subsequently loaded into ore carts, which were winched up the hill over small-gauge rails by a 3/4"

The Middle Valley Trap Rock & Mine Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Alan Edelson, March 29, 2011
2. The Middle Valley Trap Rock & Mine Company Marker
steel cable, powered by a single drum steam hoist and transferred onto the railroad. At the plant's peak of production, it had a daily capacity to haul 400 tons of rock and had a workforce of 35 laborers, mostly of Italian and Greek heritage. The workers slept on bunks inside wooden shanties. Facilities at the site included a boiler house, a blacksmith shop, coal bins and a "keg house" where beer was stored and served to workers. In 1897, the Middle Valley Railroad, the shortest independent entity in the state (1.3 miles), was constructed for $10,548 to facilitate the transportation of ore to the main railroad of the Central Railroad of New Jersey near Middle Valley Road.

Rock quarry drilling and blasting were considered a dangerous art form. The pattern of holes drilled, and the amount of dynamite used, determined the amount of rock to be dislodged. - - and just where it might fall. If too few holes were drilled or too little dynamite used, time and money would be wasted - - BUT, if workers misjudged the drilling pattern, hole depth, or underestimated the amount of dynamite, the results could be fatal!

One of the worst tragedies that occurred at the quarry was on November 12, 1904, when 21 year-old Anthony Trimmer (1883-1931), his father's personal business representative, and his brother, 20 year-old Grover Cleveland Trimmer (1884-1904), decided to work that frigid Saturday morning. Grover stored his lunch container in the boiler house, while Anthony stored his in the blacksmith shop. The weather created a problem with blasting operations, so two sticks of dynamite were brought inside the boiler house to keep dry, a safe distance from the low flame of the boiler. As lunch approached, Grover asked his brother to join him for conversation in the warmth of the boiler house; Anthony agreed and went to retrieve his lunch. Suddenly, as he walked toward the structure, the boiler house exploded, knocking him to the ground. The vibration of the blast was so loud that it shattered windows of nearby homes.

Quickly, Anthony and the quarry workers ran to Grover's aid as debris from the boiler house lay on top of him. Frantically, they removed him from the wreckage by hand. His body was badly burned and mangled. Unconscious, he was placed onto a wagon and driven to his parents' home where he succumbed to his injuries several hours later. Funeral services were conducted in the parlor among friends and family. Grover was buried in the Lower Valley Presbyterian Church cemetery. His father never recovered from the tragedy; he died five years later and was buried next to his son. Another son of Lawrence Trimmer, Lamont (1881-1965), continued to operate the company until a dwindling customer base and financial problems forced it to cease production in 1923.
Erected by County of Hunterdon Parks and Recreation.
Location. 40° 45.177′ N, 74° 50.744′ W. Marker is near Califon, New Jersey, in Hunterdon County. Marker is on Hollow Brook Road, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Califon NJ 07830, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Teetertown Mill (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mountain Farm (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Railroad & The Vernoy Quarry (approx. 1.5 miles away); Califon (approx. 1.9 miles away); Califon Veterans Monument (approx. 2.2 miles away); Califon Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 2.3 miles away); Creamery Channel (approx. 2.4 miles away); The Califon Station (approx. 2.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Califon.
Categories. Industry & Commerce

Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Alan Edelson of Union Twsp., New Jersey. This page has been viewed 630 times since then and 66 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Alan Edelson of Union Twsp., New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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