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Kelley's Quarry

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1850 to about 1910
Location: Corning, Steuben County, New Yorkmap
Surnames/tags: Kelley, New York quarry, Corning
Profile manager: J Grohsmeyer private message [send private message]
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Quarries in Corning

New York State Museum of Natural History: 1888 There are three quarries in Corning, in the valley south of town, and on the hill about 250 feet above the bottom of the valley. That of B. N. Payne's quarry is on the west side of the valley.... John Kelley's quarry is south of and across the road from Payne's quarry. Its working face is 400 feet in length, fronting south-east. The stripping consists of earth and shaky rock, together 10 feet thick. Then come beds of various thickness, from 4 inches to 2.5 feet. Some of the shaly rock is interbedded with the sandstone, more or less all the way down to the bottom of the quarry. At the bottom there is a layer 1 foot thick of soft, blue stone, and underneath it hard iron-stained rock. The total thickness of workable beds is 30 feet. There is a slight dip in the south-westerly direction. one main system of joints runs north 80 degrees east; a second system runs south 30 degrees east. They are vertical and usually are open or mud-filled, and at spaces 15 to 20 feet apart. As the quarry is on the hillside there is no pumping or raising of water. Two horse-power derricks are in use, and the stone is carted to Corning depot, three-quarters of a mile or to the D.L.&W Railroad line, two miles distant. The Fall Brook Coal Co's railroad also is reached about one mile from the quarry. In the winter season the stripping is carried forward, so that the work continues throughout the year. A large amount of stone from these quarries has been used on the Fall Brook Coal Co's line for bridge work. It is sold for common wall work and foundation walls in Corning, at $1.50 per cubic yard, delivered.

Kelley's Quarries

The first Kelley Quarry was on Powder House Rd. In 1884, John D. Kelley bought the Quarry owned by B.N. Payne, located right across the road. In 1889, John D. Kelley bought the quarry owned by H.C. Heermane on Spencer Rd.


1884 Jan 10 - "The stone quarry of B. N. Payne of Corning, has been bought by John Kelly, it is stated, for the sum of $5000."[1]

1885 Aug 13 - Charles Nicholl, an Italian, met with a serious accident Monday afternoon. He was at work in the stone quarry of John Kelly, when an embankment fell and he was complete buried by the dirt. He was extricated after considerable labor. His body was bruised, the right leg was broken above the knee, and the upper part of his left leg was laid open to the bone. Dr McNamara set the bone of the right leg and took eight stitches in the gash on the left.[2]

1887 May 25 - Real Estate Transfer: Corning. Benj. W. Payne to John Kelly, "stone quarry" $500.[3]

1887 July 21 - "Joseph J. Kelly, son of John Kelly, while at work in the latter's stone quarry yesterday afternoon, stripping dirt from some stone, fell about twenty feet. He struck on his back and left side, breaking his left arm and severely wrenching the muscles of his back. He was taken to his home in Knoxville. The accident was caused by the giving way of the projection of dirt on which he was standing." [4]

1889 May 16 - "H. C. Heermane has sold to John Kelly his interest in the Corning Quarries, for the sum of $2800. By this purchase, Contractor Kelly secures control of all the quarry property upon the hill southwest of the village from Second Street to the lands of Frank McCullough."[5]

1903 Sep 19 - FIFTY MEN WANTED AT ONCE - $1.75 per day; long job. Apply at Kelly's Quarry, Corning, NY 11-15[6]

1906 Dec 26 - Ten Teams wanted at once to draw stone - $4.00 per day, work all winter and barns furnished. Kelley Quarry, Corning, NY. [7]

Historical landmark

CORNING - The Town of Corning paid tribute Saturday morning to a historical town site that was instrumental to the construction of many iconic buildings throughout the area.

The town erected a marker on the site of the former Corning powderhouse on a property located at 2908 Powderhouse Road to commemorate the former building and its local impact. For decades, the powderhouse stored explosives such as blast caps that were used to extract stone from a nearby quarry, and that stone went on to be utilized to construct several iconic area structures.

“Remembering our history and where we came from and what we did in the past is important to remember,” said Town Supervisor Kim Feehan. “If it wasn’t for having this powderhouse, they wouldn’t have been able to blast the stone for many different buildings around here.”

Property owners Ross and Cindy Spallone said they were happy to accommodate the marker, and even feel that the historical marker accentuates their home. “I think it’s a cool addition to the property,” said Ross Spallone.

The powderhouse was constructed in 1848 and was operational into the early 1900s. The nearby quarry, the remnants of which are located just down the road from the site, was one of three quarries operational in Corning by 1888, according to local historian Tom Dimitroff.

Dimitroff said the explosives that came from the powderhouse were used to blast rock that were eventually used in the construction of the Centerway Clock Tower, Faith Lutheran Church on West First Street, Park Church on West Gray Street in Elmira, the Elmira Correctional Facility -- which at the time was known as the Elmira Reformatory -- and other buildings.

The powderhouse has since been razed and no longer exists, though its legacy lives on with local architecture and with the road where it was formerly located -- Powderhouse Road.

School Essay about the Quarry

about the Quarry by Earl Joseph Cavanaugh, a fifth grader at St. Mary's School, c. 1905". Printed in Elmira Star-Gazette, 6 Apr 1975, page 40.

"Mister Edward Kelley owns a quarry up the hill, up Chemung Street. It is a big space witch-would hold the hull city with room left over. The wall is taller than Greig's Dept. Store, with flowers growing out of it. You must not reach for the flowers from the top-- you might fall offen break your kneck. Stone is made at the quarry for sidewalks and buildings and sutch. It is sawed like wood and the petitions in the boys' privy of our school are made of it. The pond at the quarry ain't got any bottom, so I don't see how it holds water, but it can be swam in with tites on. They git good pay working at the quarry and can take all the stone they want free. Uncle Frank Rasch gott enough to jack up our front portch for nothing."

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