Clinton in Hunterdon County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Red Mill Museum Village
The quarry was a dirty and dangerous place to work where for years most of the work was done with hand tools and black powder.
The natural mineral wealth of the Clinton area includes a calcite rock that is called dolomite limestone. This limestone can be crushed and used in road construction, ground to make mortar, or burned in a kiln to produce an agricultural fertilizer. In the 19th century farmers used burnt lime to sweeten acid soil and improve their crops. Across the South Branch of the Raritan River from Clinton, a cliff of limestone has been quarried since the first settlers arrived in the area.
This property was owned from 1809 until 1828 by Ralph Hunt who built and operated a woolen mill and quarried and burned limestone. The business was not successful and the property passed into the hands of the Easton Bank in 1844. In 1848, the property was divided and the quarry sold to the Mulligan brothers. The Mulligans had arrived in the area between 1837 and 1842 and worked as day laborers burning lime at the Quarry. They did well and were able to put $100 down on the mortgage, acquired the property and managed its operation
In the early days all the quarry work was done by hand. Mulligan's employees hand-drilled blast holes on the cliff face. A good worker could drill five feet in a ten-hour day and was paid two cents per inch. Most holes were drilled at an angle to a depth of three feet. Black powder, which cost $2 for a 25-pound keg and was less expensive than dynamite, was generally used for blasting. Often holes were "shot twice:" the first charge cracked the quarry face, and then powder was worked into the cracks for a second shot to brake the stone into smaller pieces. At Mulligan's Quarry, logs were often placed over the drill holes to force the explosion down into the rock, rather than upward. After the blast, the workers used sixteen pound sledgehammers to break stone into manageable sizes. Chunks were then loaded by hand into two-mule wagons and carried to the crusher and kilns. Mulligan paid these laborers 12 to 13 cents for a 10 to 12-hour day. The operation was kept simple and technical advances came, slowly. It wasn't until 1935 that the Mulligans started using compressed air-driven jack hammers to. make the work more efficient.
( photo captions )
- Joseph Van Camp using a jack hammer to break loose pieces of limestone in the quarry.
Andrew and Merrit Walker were two of the many men who worked in the quarry over the years.
- in this picture Michael Mulligan supervises as horse-drawn carts transport loads of broken limestone from the quarry face.
- At one time Clinton's limestone cliffs extended almost to the river. Over the years, quarrying operations carved a deep bowl shaped depression into the hill as hundreds of tons of stone were removed. Above quarry workers with hand tools work at the cliff face. Left, the quarry office (center) in it's original location next to the Red Mill. The ruins of an abandoned lime kiln are visible.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1809.
Location. 40° 38.175′ N, 74° 54.788′ W. Marker is in Clinton, New Jersey, in Hunterdon County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of W. Main Street and Quarry Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 56 Main Street, Clinton NJ 08809, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Mill (a few steps from this marker); The Mulligans (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lime Kilns (within shouting distance of this marker); Hunterdon Historical Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Cornerstone, 1754 (within shouting distance of this marker); Red Mill Museum Village (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Red Mill Museum Village (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hunterdon Museum Of Art (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clinton.
Also see . . . The Red Mill Museum Village. (Submitted on October 6, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 6, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 6, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 135 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 6, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.