The Yule Marble Quarry is one of the largest, most important marble deposits in the world. It was discovered in the 1870s in the small Colorado town of Marble, near the West Elk Mountains.
The Quarry is the main source of economy in Marble, and has undergone extensive openings, closures, and renovations since its discovery. It remains in use today.
Though the quarry’s white marble deposits were first discovered in 1873, it was not until 1905 when Colonel Channing Meek raised three million dollars to actually develop the land, that the quarry began to take shape. Developing the quarry was difficult and time-consuming.
Unlike most quarries, Yule Marble is not an open pit above ground. The marble deposits are found underground at an elevation of 9500 feet, which required cutting into steep mountainsides. It was dangerous work, and injuries were not unheard of. Even with today’s advancements, operating the quarry remains challenging work.
Money from the quarry was slow to come, and in 1917 operations were reduced, though they did not come to a full halt until 1941. With the war underway, there was little use for marble. Steel was needed for the war, and the quarry’s equipment was stripped and sold.
The Quarry Today
The Yule Marble Quarry reopened in 1990, after almost 50 years of closure. Since then, it has been bought and sold numerous times. In 1999 Rex Loesby bought the quarry with the intention of providing marble to the Veteran’s Administration for use in national cemeteries across the country. Unfortunately, that did not last long. The quarry was sold in 2004.
It has continued to change hands since then. Most recently, Enrico Luciani of Carrara, Italy, bought the quarry in 2010, shipping the marble to Italy and other European and Asian countries. The North American sale rights were retained by the quarry’s 2004 owner, Polycor.
With such a long and diverse history, there are many fun and interesting facts to go with it.
- In 1931, marble from the Yule Quarry was used for construction of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
- The Rockefellers were, in part, responsible for helping Colonel Channing Meek raise the 3 million dollars to begin construction.
- After closing in 1941, Marble’s economy dried up and people moved away. It was on the verge of becoming an official ghost town.
- Calacatta Lincoln, first discovered at the Yule Marble Quarry, is considered by many to be the finest white marble in the world.
- Marble that is deemed unsuitable is dumped over the quarry’s edge and may be purchased by anyone for a fraction of the normal cost.
The Yule Marble Quarry is a working quarry and, as such, is not open to tours. Since it is underground, it is not visible from the top, and visitors will not have access to it.
The old viewing area has been permanently closed due to dangerous conditions, and visitors should not ignore warning signs. Interested visitors should stay far back and observe all health and safety guidelines.
Address: 1 Marble Quarry Rd, Marble, CO 81623