Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pointing and Peaking

Yesterday we took a field trip out to the Mojave desert to Ridgecrest California. They tell me this area is called the 'high desert' as apposed to a low desert, an example being the Colorado Desert, which confusingly is actually in California as well. The Edwards Air force Base is located here too. Some of you may remember the 'stuff' about Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier over 60 years ago and the stories of the early US astronaut program there, 'right' ? Anyway at about 6 in the morning we were flying past the base on our way to visit Sydney Point Quarry. It was still dark and the desert looked like Manitoba at night.

When we arrived there T.J. the manager, kindly showed us around the quarry. Here he is pointing at the actual Sydney Point Mountain which Blakes Quarry is named after, but that's another story. For anyone interested in learning more, their website is

Anyway the quarry is a very busy operation, running at its peak, you could say, employing over 40 people. On their brochure and on their website they proudly state - At Sydney Peak Stone we are striving to become California's first green quarry, adhering to the most recent changes in California's State Law. Natural Stone is 100% usable, can be recycled and emits no volatile organic compounds.

They have lots and lots of quartzite schist material. It's very durable, nice looking, splits like a dream and comes in a good number of thicknesses. Its not like the soapy flaky stuff that you sometimes get from other stone suppliers. As with most schist however it is very hard to chisel across the grain. You pretty much have to find their natural faces rather than try to make a face.

TJ is really into 'production stone' making cut cobbles and stone bricks and veneers of various styles, all of which are geared for various architectural residential and commercial applications

We were looking more at what kind of dry stone wall material was available. They sell pallets of really nice 2 and 2 1/2 inch 'copes' as they call it, which is an excellent material to use in a dry laid application in a wall or garden feature.

Here is another look at that gable wall incorporating a lot of the Sydney Peak cope for the diagonals. They usually sell this size and shape stone for using as flags in patios and the tops of walls, but it's great for building an entire wall. Unlike a patio or cope, the side face of the stone not the flat surface, is all you see in the wall, of course.

Tomorrow I will post pics of what goes on at the quarry and explore some similarities I was intrigued to discover between stone quarrying and farming.

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