Vermont Quarry Tour Shows Origin of Mount Gilead’s Victory Pit
MOUNT GILEAD – A heavy piece of gray and white granite from Barre, Vermont, now has a home at the Morrow County History Center in Mount Gilead.
Through the efforts of Jason Brooke, the story of the Victory Shaft Monument in the plaza has come full circle with the story of its origin in a Vermont quarry.
Brooke’s eyes light up as he recounts how he first became interested in the history of the monument which was the prize for citizens of Morrow County selling the most war bonds per capita in the country during World War I.
During the monument’s centennial celebrations in 2019, he saw the name of the Vermont Jones Brothers Company where the monument’s granite was processed in Barre, Vermont.
He was already planning a trip to Maine when he saw a show on the Smithsonian television channel about the quarry. This motivated him to do more research on the quarry, and he contacted the Vermont Historical Society.
Brooke learned that the Vermont Granite Museum now sits on the site where the Morrow County Obelisk was carved and polished. The Wells-Lamson quarry where the granite was mined is no longer an active quarry.
The Vermont Historical Society had news articles and other information about the national competition for the monument. The staff were helpful and enthusiastic to connect with someone from the town where the Victory Shaft monument now stands.
Brooke planned the trip in July to coincide with visits to Revolutionary War and Civil War battle sites in Maine and Vermont. He put together a photo album for the Vermont Granite Museum with photos of the Victory Shaft and a story of the Morrow County monument dedication and centennial celebration in 2019.
His mother, Penny Brooke, was on the trip. She said one of the most rewarding things about the trip was taking a walking trail to see where the granite was being mined. They walked with a guide on a long path to a lookout at the old quarry and cut down a piece of granite for the Morrow County History Center.
The Vermont Granite Museum is housed in a huge building which was where granite was brought from the quarry to be carved, shaped and polished for monuments.
“You can imagine how they had to bring this huge piece of stone, shape it and work it before shipping it,” Brooke said.
The Vermont Granite Museum Barre posted several photos of Brooke and the Morrow County Victory Shaft’s visit to its FaceBook page on June 30. It also contains many photos of the museum and the quarry.
The quarrying industry in Vermont changed many small businesses around the time the Morrow County Victory Shaft was built. Brooke said the Rock of Ages Corporation now owns most of the quarries in the area that are still in operation.
In addition to the rock from the quarry site, Brooke gave the History Center a photo album of their trip and photos of the quarry and museum.
Morrow County History Center Curator Committee Member Ellen McMurray and Historical Society President Mike Wilson were delighted to accept the stone and scrapbook.
Wilson said it was remarkable to see the Granite Museum building which was once the site where our Morrow County monument was fashioned. In its time, it was presented as the “largest monumental hangar in the world”.
Murray said it would be a welcome addition to the History Center and suggested that Brooke share the history and information he gleaned on his trip with members of the Historical Society.
The Morrow County History Center is located at 17 W. High Street in Mount Gilead and is open Sunday afternoons from 2-5 p.m. His phone number is 419-946-7264.
The Wells-Lamson Quarry where Mount Gilead’s Victory Shaft monument was quarried in 1919.
The Vermont Granite Museum, formerly the Jones Brothers Company, where granite from the quarry was carved and polished to form the Victory Shaft monument.
Left to right: Ellen McMurray, History Center Preservation Committee, Historical Society President Mike Wilson, with the photo album of the Brookes’ trip to the Vermont Quarry with Penny Brooke, Jason Brooke and a photo of the Victory Shaft at Mount Gilead.