The Quarry

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(This is an excerpt from All that was Promised by Blaine M. Yorgason.

During the entire time that the pounder was being used on the base, quarrymen under the direction of Archibald McNeil were at work in the lava quarry preparing stones for the foundation. McNeil’s full-time fellow workmen included Alex Fullerton, Jim Dean, Ephraim Wilson, and Lewis Robbins, and no doubt several more who labored on a part-time basis. Some of these were local while others had come south for a season to volunteer their services on the temple project. Quarrying methods included drilling (a two-man job as one held and turned the iron drill while the other swung the heavy mallet or sledge hammer), using “slips and wedges,” and even chipping with smaller iron hammers to remove obtrusive corners and edges.

Blasting was never mentioned in the records. The rock was so hard, however, that little of it was changed from the shape it held when freed from whatever boulder it had been a part of. Fitting the stones into place in the temple’s foundation would be left to those stonemasons who had been assigned to apply the mortar to the necessary thickness below and between each stone, and then to “lay them up” as level as was possible. The irregularities in size and shape would be made up with mortar. It was quickly discovered that stones from the quarry were far too heavy to load onto wagons to transport to the temple site. After a little experimentation it was determined that by prying up or using a “sheerlegs” lifting apparatus, one end of a stone could easily be lifted sufficiently to work under it not only lengths of chain or heavy rope but enough sand and small stones to elevate it a few inches above ground level. Once the same thing had been done with the other end, a sturdy wagon was driven over the stone, the ropes or chains beneath the stone were tied securely around thick poles laid lengthwise atop the wagonbed, and once the sand and stones were scraped out from underneath, the stone was left suspended beneath the wagon and ready for hauling. Each stone was then hauled by three teams of mules (for strength and safety, the largest mules in town) from the quarry, down the dugway, back around the south end of the Black Hill, and then on to the temple site, a total of three miles. Master mason Edward Lloyd Parry estimated that 500 cords, or 64,000 cubic feet, of these stones—some 1,800 wagon trips—were used in laying the temple foundation.

Under the direction of master mason Parry, the first of these quarried stones were laid in the foundation on 10 March 1873. Parry had been so frail as a youth that his stonemason father had apprenticed him to a tailor. “After a few months disgusted with tailoring, Edward returned to his father and grandfather who resignedly put him back to work in his native Welsh village.” For the rest of his life Parry laid stonework for dozens of remarkably beautiful structures of every sort. When the wagons carrying the stones arrived at the temple site, the load was lowered to the ground next to the excavation where it was to be placed. Then it had to be lifted again and set in the foundation.

How was this done with hand-operated equipment—especially the first stones that had to be lowered several feet below ground level to the pounded-in excavation? Again the builders accomplished their task with a sheer-legs apparatus. As the foundation and then the walls rose up out of the ground, the several sheer-legs apparatuses rose with it, mounted on the temple walls so the stones and beams could still be hoisted to the desired heights. It was an ingenious system that was used not only to lift stones and mortar but also as an elevator for the workers as the walls rose in height. No doubt these devices were secured to the walls by George Jarvis, a master with ropes and weights. (Later Jarvis would also devise a rope hoist to place the 18,000-pound baptismal font precisely onto the backs of the twelve oxen in the temple basement.) Ultimately 20 tons of rope would be used during temple construction.

All That Was Promised, Blaine M. Yorgason, pp. 116-18.

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