Cold Spring Granite Co. dates back to 1886, when Scottish stoneworker Henry Alexander formed a partnership with several other stonemen from his native homeland. Through the years, the company continually expanded. In 1958, Cold Spring Granite purchased the Melrose Granite Co. of St. Cloud, MN. The property where the company sat included a large fabricating plant and several older quarries, including the Carnelian quarry just east of Milbank. Today, this site operates as “Carnelian No. 1 Quarry.”
Additionally, the purchase of the Melrose Granite Co. included a parcel of land where the “Carnelian No. 2 Quarry” was started by Cold Spring Granite in 1965, and still remains in operation today. This site was opened so that the company could guarantee to produce 350,000 square feet of Carnelian granite for the Bank of America’s 52-story world headquarters building, which was completed in 1972. The granite was used to build a 4-inch-thick wall that was 200 feet wide and more than a half-mile long.
In 1982, Cold Spring Granite developed a third site for extracting Carnelian granite, which is referred to as “Carnelian No. 3 Quarry.” This quarry, which shares a boundary with a site owned by Dakota Granite Co., was established when the company purchased the Hunter Granite Co. in Milbank.
In total, there are 52 workers between the three Carnelian quarries, which operate year-round and share equipment.
According to Quarry Manager Steve Karels, the Carnelian No. 3 quarry produces about 125,000 cubic feet annually. A typical size block that is shipped to Cold Spring Granite’s fabrication facility in Minnesota measures approximately 280 cubic feet or 50,000 pounds, as opposed to blocks weighing 4,200 to 4,500 that are shipped overseas.
At the time of Stone World’s visit, quarry workers were opening a new “key” area of the site. They were cutting a bench that measured between 30 to 32 feet high, 50 feet long and 6 feet wide. Hydro-bags and jacks are used to tip the bench down, which is then cut into blocks, explained Karels. A Pellegrini TD 65 saw is used to cut the blocks into slabs.
Under normal circumstances, Cold Spring operates two shifts at the Milbank quarries - an 8-hour morning shift, five days a week and a 10-hour night shift, four days a week. “At times that we are really busy, we quarry 24 hours a day, six days a week,” said Karels. “This quarry probably has a life expectancy of another 35 to 40 years.”