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Patrick L.
Democrat VT

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  • Vermont’s Granite Industry

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2013-12-19

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    LEAHY. Mr. President, I would like to take a few moments to talk about a unique Vermont asset that recently gained national attention: the granite industry. Due largely to its versatility, high quality and immense quantity, granite proved integral to the early economic development of my home State and continues to play a vital role today.



    The people of Barre, VT, have been mining granite since the 1800s, when it was learned that the unusually high quality of the stone found in the town's hillsides was in high demand. This discovery had local and global implications. Granite from the Rock of Ages quarry in Barre was supplied to help construct columns in the Vermont State House that still stand today. Additionally, the art of stone carving that the granite industry created attracted skilled immigrants to Vermont from throughout Europe and Canada. In fact, both my grandfathers were stone carvers in Vermont.

    With its museum, tours, and even a sandblasting experience, the Rock of Ages quarry has expanded its offerings to serve as an educational and historical site, attracting visitors from around the world. Recently, the Timberland Boot Company visited the quarry for a photo shoot. They became so enamored by the community and its people that they ended up highlighting the area in a new line of footwear, noting that it was influenced by ``a 150-year-old granite industry that transformed the tiny New England town into an international destination for commerce and art.'' I am very proud of the people of Barre for embracing and preserving the important history and culture the granite industry brought to Vermont. The recognition that the Timberland Boot Company gave to Rock of Ages is well deserved.

    I ask that an article printed in The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus on November 26, 2013, ``Marketers find Barre history just the right fit,'' be printed in the Congressional Record.

    There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: [From the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, Nov. 26, 2013] Marketers Find Barre History Just the Right Fit If you don't think the local granite industry has a story still worth telling, try selling that to the folks at The Timberland Boot Co., who turned what was supposed to be a routine photo shoot at Rock of Ages last year into a multimedia campaign that is very Barre.

    ``It's pretty impressive,'' Rock of Ages spokeswoman Amanda Pittsley said of the newly launched digital campaign for Timberland's high-end heritage collection.

    ``Originally, they were just looking for a rugged place to go with their new line of boots,'' Pittsley recalled. ``They were just hoping to use a panoramic of the top of the quarry as an intro to this `mine' of products as far as their industrial boot.'' The photo shoot a year ago turned Quarry Hill into boot hill for a day and a half.

    ``We literally spent all day carrying around boots,'' she recalled of Rock of Ages' attempt to accommodate a photographer and a creative director interested in making the most out of a texture-rich setting that includes everything from the frequently photographed quarry with its towering derricks to rough-cut granite blocks and weathered railroad tracks.

    ``They wanted different textures to show behind the boots,'' she said. ``We were just going to be the granite backdrop.'' Or so Pittsley thought until she recently visited http:// abington.timberland.com and learned the photo shoot had ``morphed into an entire product line'' that makes up Timberland's latest Abington Collection--a nod to the company's first incarnation as The Abington Shoe Co.

    ``The Abington Fall '13 Collection was influenced by the people of Barre, Vt., and a 150 year old granite industry that transformed the tiny New England town into an international destination for commerce and art.'' So says the slick website, which announces a product line that features several styles of boots and a shoe ``designed with the Italian sculptor in mind.'' The site features a collection of historic Barre photographs to go along with the marketing shots that were taken last year, a couple of timelines, and a few video cameos featuring Italian-born granite sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli.

    ``Shop the collection that Barre inspired,'' it concludes.

    Pittsley was impressed.

    ``You would have thought we went to them,'' she said.

    According to Pittsley, it isn't unusual for Rock of Ages to field photo requests from fashion editors and companies like Lenovo interested in using the quarry as a backdrop, but the company rarely gets to see the end result.

    ``We're just a site,'' she said.

    Pittsley said she never imagined the sort of spread Timberland came up with when the photographer and creative director headed into Barre to see what they might find at the Vermont Granite Museum and the Vermont History Center.

    What they found, Pittsley surmised, was a story ready to be told.

    ``I think they were just overwhelmed with how much information there was,'' she said.

    Though they can be purchased online, the boots said to be inspired by the people and the industry that put Barre on the map are available at only two Vermont locations, according to the website: Maven on Cherry Street in Burlington and Manchester Footwear on Main Street in Manchester.

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