Located east of Tucson, AZ, in the Chiricahua Mountains in the town of Wilcox is the Arizona Marble Co. The quarry was originally established in 1908 by the board of directors consisting of Gerald Hughes, John G. Kerr, Clyde Turnbull, F.G. Moffat and Walter E. Wilmot. The original marble camp featured a place to eat, a couple of wooden houses, a group of tents and a four-stall barn. To transport the blocks to be shipped, the quarry used two 110-horsepower steam tractors that pulled wagons that held the blocks. The quarry ran until it was shut down in 1937.
Currently, the quarry is owned by Matt Klump, who purchased the company in 2002. He had a vision to bring this highly prized material back into the market. Klump’s grandfather was a cattle driver and had owned a lot of land in the area. His grandfather’s children were ranchers as well. It wasn’t until Klump took over that he went a bit further than just ranching. He started with a gravel pit, then a batch plant.
In 2013, Klump brought in modern quarrying techniques and broke new ground at the quarry. Originally, the company tried to extract from the original quarry site. While trying to develop it and pull out material inside the quarry, a new vein was found and the quarry was moved in that direction. In addition to working the new vein, the company still tries to develop the old quarry — searching for new marble types.
The marble deposit covers over 320 acres in Cochise County. At the present time, the quarry produces four unique colors: Arizona Statuario, Arizona Ash, Arizona Monsoon and Apache Blue. The company also runs a fabrication shop, which can produce slabs, tile and blocks. Recently, a new marble was found that is expected to be on the market soon.
The chemical analysis of the marble shows that it contains 99.9% calcium carbonate, has an absorption rate of .10% and a compressive strength of 14,000 PSI. Because of its quality and purity, very large blocks are able to be extracted. Some of the blocks reach over 275 cubic feet, which can be cut into 10- x 6-foot slabs.
Currently, the quarry is producing 250 tons of marble per month and maintains five workers. Arizona Marble Co. looks to continue to develop and grow its quarries as needed, as well as to continue to find new material in the mountains. Right now, they are primarily selling to distributors in the U.S., but have also started to sell stone internationally, including to Italy and China.