Carrying on the tradition of Arkansas limestone
With a history dating back to the 1800s, the Ozark Southern Stone quarry in Beaver, AR, has produced limestone for classic structures in the area and continues to supply current projects across the U.S.
“Ozark Southern Stone began as a landscaping company in 1984,” explained Lowell Johnson. “We started out using a lot of native stone and limestone for projects. We started purchasing limestone from the quarry in the early 1990s to do projects around Eureka Springs. We were so intrigued by the quality of the stone and what it had done for Eureka Springs for more than 100 years, and we told the owner that if he ever wanted to sell the quarry we would be interested. In 2007, he came to us and was ready to sell, so Ozark Southern Stone purchased the quarry and has been quarrying stone, doing projects and shipping it nationwide ever since.”
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The quarry site, which operates year round, currently stretches across 30 acres, and the company continues to expand it, according to Johnson. Four varieties of limestone are produced: Navajo Cream, the most sought-after layer since the 1800s that is light gray in color, very smooth and easy for masons to work with; Variegated, a premium select limestone that is light and dark gray in color with some occasional light orange that is suited for veneer and retaining walls; Sky Blue, available in shades of light and dark blue and primarily made into veneer; and Southern Blend, the company’s most popular selling stone that is a blend of all three colors.
Ozark Southern Stone operates with a staff of six, and the quarry is equipped with an assortment of machinery to extract and process stone. “We use large excavators, bulldozers, loaders, dump trucks, forklifts, skid steers, air compressors, grizzly screens, dartas, saws, drills and stone splitters,” said Johnson. The company has a Stone Mason from Cee-Jay Tool Co., Inc. to split blocks into veneer.
Explosives are not used in the extraction process, according to Johnson. “We drill holes every 8 to 10 inches, depending on the layer,” he said. “We pour in a product called Dexpan, which is a non-explosive agent. It expands and does not shock the rest of the rock. We have 90% usable rock, unlike blasting which fractures a lot of stone. We are the Dexpan dealer for the state of Arkansas.”
On average, the limestone blocks extracted from the quarry weigh between 7,000 to 8,000 pounds. They are shipped across the U.S. to be cut into products such as tile, veneer, monuments and countertops. “The uses are endless,” said Johnson. “Our Navajo Cream layer weighs 174 pounds per cubic foot.”
Eureka Springs is a primary market for Ozark Southern Stone because of the historical aspect of the limestone. The company’s construction business does restoration, preservation and installation. Among the types of projects that it supplies stone for are large retaining walls and stone veneering on buildings, stone caps for retaining walls, staircases, fireplaces and fire pits.