Marshall Historical Society

Eastern Rock / Hanson Aggregates
By Janet Dangler, October 2020

Hanson Aggregates started out as a local quarry operated around 1832 by F.E. Conley of Conley Stone Co. and Sidney Putman, later called Putnam and Juhl, and the operation was done mostly by hand. The Chenango Canal had opened in 1834, and proved helpful to the quarry. This was probably located where Nassimos gas station is now. It closed in 1836, and was reopened by Bardrof, Davis, and Chapman. As business expanded, a charter was granted by the Secretary of State, and it was incorporated in 1921 into the Utica plant of Eastern Rock Products, Inc., but was carried on as a separate corporation, Peerless Quarries. That continued until 1929, when Peerless Quarries filed a "notice of voluntary dissolution" and merged into Eastern Rock, Inc. Peerless Quarries supplied limestone for the Congregational Church in Oriskany Falls, the Masonic Temple in Waterville, and locks on the Chenango Canal.

Eastern Rock, which is located at the extreme south-western part of the Town of Marshall, just outside of Oriskany Falls was a stabilizing factor in this area, and still is as Hanson's. Eastern Rock was much celebrated for the opportunities it presented for jobs and for their community service. For example, the local Methodist Church held an “Eastern Rock Sunday” in thanks for all the help the employees of Eastern Rock had rendered over the years, particularly during the famous Blizzard of 1966, when they were responsible for helping to clear the snow that fell that January. The pastor, Paul D. Mills, ended his letter of thanks by stating how proud the village is of that "fine industry."

The process of generating crushed stone for various construction sites starts by the engineers calculating the best spot to place the explosives. Then seven-inch holes are drilled through the limestone bed. After the holes are drilled a primer charge is lowered in each hole, followed by the explosive. Once the whole matter is wired together, an electrical charge is applied through long wires to the highly sensitive blasting caps which set off the charges. They in turn detonate the main explosive. After the blast, which could be heard more than five miles away, the pieces of rock are taken to the crusher, where they are broken down into crushed rock, and then to a conveyer belt with screens which separate this stone into various commercial sizes. Lastly the crushed limestone is conveyed via truck or railroad, when it was running, for building purposes and to improve roads, build driveways, etc., around the state. The Oriskany Falls plant furnished all the stone for the construction of the runway at what was the Griffis Air Force Base in Rome. The plant also furnished a good number of tons to the construction of Routes 20 and 8, and for the New York State Thruway. Some of the materials for Vernon Downs race track came from Eastern Rock.

The quarry operators have always had an interest in conservation – nothing is wasted at the plant. The topsoil and subsoil bulldozed away from the bedrock is carried away, terraced, and planted with grass and trees. In 1970, 3 ½ acres of grass was planted and 10,000 conifers were set out, mixed with shrubs. These encourage habitats of birds and other small animals. Also, the trees screen the operation of the quarry from the surrounding area. Dust, a by-product of the quarry operation, is kept to a minimum by the use of water from the Oriskany Creek, which flows through 10” pipes to be used a cooling and a washing agent. The water empties into a settling pond, screened, and released back into the creek.

In 1967, an offer to buy Easter Rock Products was made by Koppers Co., of Pittsburgh. The influx of new capital enabled the company to further improve the operation. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the company continued to grow. In 1988 another bid for the purchase of Eastern Rock was made by a company name Beazer; then in 1990 it was purchased by Hanson Aggregates, one of the largest producers of aggregate material in the country.


Ariel view 1963

Preparing to blast, 1920s

Blasting in progress, 1941

1920s

Steam shovel near truck to be loaded - 1923
See also:
           Marshall Quaries by John McConnell.

           Eastern Rock Products by Rod Fuess.

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