Travels with Balfour Pink


Travels with Balfour Pink


A few years ago, Rowan Public Library was given a collection of glass slides from a local family. These magic lantern slides documented various paving and curbing projects done throughout the United States in the early 1900s. Many skilled stone workers came to Rowan County from Great Britain in the early 20th Century to work in the granite industry including the Kirchin family. Both father and son worked as stone cutters for the Harris Granite Quarries Company, world-renown for Balfour Pink “The Granite Eternal.” This granite was used for many projects all over the United States and Europe, particularly as paving stones and memorials. As society moved from horse drawn carts and carriages to motorcars, a smooth and even surface was felt to be imperative. Many of the glass slides offer a glimpse of American street scenes in the first quarter of the Twentieth Century.

Collection Items

A delivery crew places granite curbing on the street for installation.

A man operates a stone cutting machine.

This is a drawing of a testing machine.

Stone abrasion machine. Slide label reads: "50-100 gram pieces are given 10,000 revolutions in this mach."

This crew, using one of the larger machines, is preparing the surface of a city street for paving.  The city is likely one of the greater cities in the northeastern section of the United States.

Large paving stones are being set on Poydras Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Poydras Street is the central corridor of the New Orleans business district.  Familiar landmarks such as the Superdome and the French Quarter are just minutes away. The…

A work crew laying Durax paving stones at 110 Wallabout Place, Brooklyn, New York in October of 1917. This location is in close proximity to the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Located in Wallabout Bay, off the East River, the Brooklyn Naval Yard was…
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