Until good roads and railroads were constructed, people used whatever materials were located nearby. Some of the stones for the early cemetery markers were taken from rock outcroppings and were also used as foundations for their homes, and fireplaces. Some of these outcroppings and stone deposits later became commercial quarries.
According to one account, the earliest development of stone quarrying in California was in 1856 at Folsom in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Sacramento County. Much of that stone was used in the construction of the Folsom State Prison, the Folsom dam, the canal, and the electric power plant. The granite was quarried at the Folsom Prison quarry by the prisoners.
Stone was quarried throughout California beginning in the mid-1800’s. The links in the following list takes you to a section of photographs of those quarries:
The boulder quarry which produces the “Black Academy Granite” is located near Academy in Fresno County.
The following quotation and the first two photographs below are from Report XIV of the State Mineralogist - Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report - Biennial Period 1913-1914, Part IV. “The Counties of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus,” by Walter W. Bradley, Field Assistant (field work in August and September, 1914), 1916.)
“Academy Granite Company. J. S. Williams, San Jose, president; F. M. Blanchard, Fresno, manager. Office, 215 Griffith-McKenzie Building, Fresno. Quarry address, Academy post office. This quarry is in Sec. 13, T. 12 S., R. 22 E., 11 miles northeast of Clovis, on the Southern Pacific Railroad, and was opened up in 1903. The stone, as determined by a microscopic examination of a thin section, is a dark, hornblende diorite, but locally called ‘black granite.’ The color permits of a fine contrast of polished and unpolished surfaces, which makes it excellent for monumental and decorative purposes. It is medium grained, and is harder than the lighter granites such as the Raymond granite in Madera County. This makes it more expensive to cut.
“So far as uncovered (circa 1914), the stone occurs in large, rounded boulders of disintegration, the quarry cut being as yet shallow (see photo No. 82). The stone at the eastern edge of the property is darker than that on the west. Pneumatic tools are used, power being furnished by distillate engines. The dressing and polishing is done in the sheds at the quarry, except for stone sold in the rough to other dealers. The product is hauled by wagon to Clovis (see photo No. 84). The largest block shipped weighed 16,800 pounds.
Below are two photographs of a block of “Black Academy Granite,” quarried at the Academy quarry and processed at the Raymond granite quarry shops. Both the Raymond Granite quarry and the “Black Academy Granite” quarry are owned and operated by Cold Spring Granite of Minnesota.