The Ross Marble Company purchased the land that is now Mead’s Quarry for one hundred dollars and began mining operations in 1881. The company merged with the Republic Marble Company in 1892 to become the Ross-Republic Marble Company. The company employed 150 workers and cut 25,000-35,000 cubic feet of marble annually. The marble was cut and polished at the marble mill that was located next to the railroad 200 yards to the north. Trains shipped the light-pink and gray marble to construction sites throughout the East. Statues carved from this marble are in government buildings in Maine, New York, Ohio, and Indiana (Div of Geology, 1924).
In 1929, the demand for marble decreased due, in part, to the Great Depression. Due to fractures in the marble, many of the blocks from the lower levels of the quarry were of low quality or were not useable. Eventually, after 48 years of quarrying, the company closed Mead’s quarry.
In 1945, Herald Williams purchased the quarry and started the Williams Limestone Company. Herald later gave the company to his brother J.P. Williams. The company employed 70 workers and operated 7 kilns using white gas. The kiln was closed after the death of Mr. Williams in 1979.
On March 3, 2001, Knox County purchased the property, which had been vacant for 22 years. The County leased the property to Ijams Nature Center to manage for use as a public park. The park was opened to visitors on May 17, 2005. Frank S. Mead was the first President of the Ross-Republic Marble Company and the quarry was named in his honor.
Photo Link: Mead’s Quarry