Wyoming contains a wide variety of granite, marble, sandstone, quartzite, gneiss, limestone, and volcanic rocks suitable for use as decorative stone. Because the United States imports more than 80% of the dimensional stone used in interior and exterior construction, the decorative stone industry has great potential for growth. With convenient transportation and a wide variety of rock types and colors available, Wyoming is one of the most promising locations for expansion of this industry. Limited exploration for stone has occurred in southern Wyoming during the past 12 years. Requests for local stone products, rather than imports, appears to be driving an increasing interest in Wyoming stone.
Dimensional stone is quarried in large blocks by sawing or drilling the stone. The material is then either processed on site or shipped by truck to a fabricating plant.
Raven stone quarry, Laramie Range, January 2000. Photo by R.E. Harris.
Wyoming contains extensive outcrops of rocks of many different colors and lithologies suitable for use as decorative and dimensional stone. Currently, the only dimensional stone quarry is Strid Marble & Granite’s Rawlins sandstone quarry in the Cretaceous Mesa Verde Formation, located southeast of Rawlins. Strid operates a stone fabrication plant near Cheyenne.
In the past, stone quarried in Wyoming was mostly used locally. Quarries near developing towns provided stone blocks for public and private buildings, curbs, walkways, and other purposes. During the late 1800s, three quarries in Wyoming shipped stone to out-of-state markets. The Waterfall Quarry near Kemmerer in western Wyoming was the source of the stone used to construct and face the city hall in Portland, Oregon. A gray sandstone quarry near Rawlins supplied dimensional blocks for construction of the Wyoming State Capitol, the Union Pacific Railroad depot in Ogden, Utah, and several buildings in northern Colorado. The University Quarry in the Casper Formation near Laramie furnished stone for about half of the buildings on the University of Wyoming Campus. Some stone from this quarry was also used on private buildings in Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, and in Fort Collins, Colorado.
From the early 1900s through the 1950s, the Jay Em Stone Company in Jay Em, Wyoming quarried granite, marble, onyx, quartzite, and other rock types in eastern Wyoming and in the Black Hills of South Dakota for use as monuments and other products. In the 1950s and 1960s, Basins, Inc. of Wheatland, Wyoming quarried and sold several types of decorative aggregate including green serpentine and various colors of marble. In the late 1970s, Georgia Marble acquired Basins, and continued quarrying white marble west of Wheatland and processing it into decorative aggregate. Georgia Marble was purchased by Imerys Marble in March of 2000, and the pit operation closed in March of 2004.
Raven Quarries operated a site in northern Albany County where they produced two types of granitic rocks until 2003. A black amphibolite, Wyoming Raven, quarried here was used to construct Bill Gates' house in Seattle, Washington.
Raven Quarries’ Wyoming Raven. Photo by R.E. Harris.
Other contracts included decorative accents in federal buildings, church cornerstones, and monuments. The variegated pink granite, first called Fantastico, then Mirage, was quarried until February 2003.
Raven Quarries’ Mirage Granite.
Wyoming continues to produce decorative aggregate and fieldstone, most of which is sold to the Colorado Front Range and Utah Wasatch Front markets. However, distributors in California, Illinois, and elsewhere have expressed interest in some of these products, and have purchased small amounts of material for market testing. Wyoming hosts nearly as many different colors and varieties of stone as the rest of the world combined. However, no dimension stone quarries are currently active in Wyoming.
Grant Ranch marble. Photo by R.E. Harris.
Click on maps to enlarge:
Potential decorative, dimensional, and ornamental host rocks in Wyoming.
Samples of potential decorative, dimensional, and ornamental stone in Wyoming.
Recommended Reference Material
Further information on Wyoming’s decorative stone resources can be found in the following WSGS publications, both of which present colorful summaries of the wide variety of decorative stones found in Wyoming.
WSGS Public Information Circular 31, Decorative stones of Wyoming, by R.E. Harris, 1991, 27 p.
WSGS Map Series 42, Decorative stones of southern Wyoming, by R.E. Harris, 2003, 55 p.