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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.


In reaction to the initial exhibit of the Kirchin family memorabilia about the quarry industry, Rowan Public Library received several responses from other families with connections to the quarries or quarry industry.  Kenneth Miller, current owner of the Balfour Quarry, shared some images with the library of the Balfour and Harris quarries.  Included in the pictures are photos and clippings of some of the folk that worked in the quarries in the latter part of the 20th century.  The quarry industry remained important to the citizens of Rowan for over a hundred years.

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