Stone Cold Facts | Urban Living
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Stone Cold Facts

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Many homes and older commercial buildings in Utah have sandstone foundations. Depending on the home inspector, you would learn either: 1. "It's a great foundation stone, as it's porous!"; or 2. "It's a terrible stone because it's porous!"

I've sold hundreds of homes and buildings over the years with a red rock foundation, and they are still standing strong. I'm often asked during the sale process where this stone comes from, which then activates my trivia storage brain to share what I know.

"Nugget Sandstone" is what most of these old foundations are made of in Northern Utah, and it was mined in Red Butte and Emigration Canyons. Southern Utah builders were more likely to use Navajo sandstone indigenous to the area.

The First Presbyterian Church at C Street and South Temple was constructed of red sandstone from Red Butte Canyon, as is the really groovy and historic Dayne's Jewelry building at 128 S. Main Street. The Salt Lake City & County Building was made from sandstone quarried from Kyune, Utah, near the top of Price Canyon.

Being located near mountains makes stone a fairly accessible material to quarry. The Salt Lake City LDS Temple is made of quartz monzonite (aka "Utah granite") mined from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Workmen cut the stone from boulders and hauled it to the temple site using ox teams in a journey that took several days—until a railway was built and a branch hooked into the quarry site to bring the rock downtown. The same rock is what the exterior of the Utah State Capitol is made from.

Stone is mined from quarries for various reasons. The Kennecott Copper mine is Utah's largest quarry where copper ore and other minerals are dug, and is the deepest open pit mine in the world. The Geneva Rock Gravel Pit at Point of the Mountain is a large quarry for sand, rock and gravel, as is the Dixon Rock and Gravel Quarry in Lehi. There's the quarry for decorative "Wonderstone" in Vernon, the Keigley Quarry in Genola for rock and gravel and the Topaz Dome Quarry in Juab County for amateur rock hounders who want to pay-to-dig for topaz crystals.

You may be hearing rumblings about a 643-acre, open-pit limestone quarry planned by a private developer around the Mt. Aire Canyon and Grandeur Peak area above Parleys Canyon. Tree Farm LLC has filed applications to all the public entities that oversee such things (i.e. the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, etc.) to extract limestone, sand, gravel and precious metals over the next 100 years.

Residents of the area are incensed that such a huge project will damage the watershed, create fire hazards from machinery causing sparks, disrupt wildlife migrations and exacerbate air pollution, and there has been no public hearings about it (yet). Supposedly, the mining area will not be seen from the road through Parleys Canyon. But residents believe there will be massive dust and traffic from large trucks going to and from up and down the canyon.