Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Breaking Stones with Feathers
The wall of granite ahead is the remnant of a small quarry. Granite from this site may have been used in the construction of the canal locks or canal arch in this park.
Quarrying was a major industry in Richmond during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The city's location on the Fall Line yields a natural abundance of this hard stone. Local granite can be found in old curbstones and sidewalks throughout the city and is a prominent feature throughout Shockoe Slip.
Look for a series of finger sized grooves along the edge of a piece of granite in front of you. These marks were made by a rock splitting techniques called the "Feather and Wedge" system.
A series of holes was drilled in a straight line where the stone was to be split.
Two "L"-shaped pieces of iron (called "feathers") were placed in the holes and a wedge was hammered down between them.
The feathers allowed the wedge to be loosened and pressure to be readjusted. When the pressure was even the stone would split in a straight line.
As you explore this
Erected by Lyn Newcomb.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 37° 32.228′ N, 77° 29.172′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Pump House Drive west of Park Drive (Virginia Route 161), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1600 Pump House Drive, Richmond VA 23225, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Richmond at the Falls (a few steps from this marker); Mule-Fueled Waterway (within shouting distance of this marker); Byrd Park Pump House (within shouting distance of this marker); Pumps and Parties (within shouting distance of this marker); Water Water Everywhere (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); River & Canal (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Carillon (approx. 0.4 miles away); Maymont, Gilded Age Estate (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.