Barre Gray Granite

Back in 1887, when the memorial committee was planning to erect the Civil War monument in the Riverside Cemetery, they insisted that the base be constructed from Barre Gray Granite. This fine-grained and impervious granite is about the best there is for durability. Even the steps of the U.S. Capitol are made with this granite which comes from a quarry in Barre, Vermont located only a few miles east of the State capitol of Montpelier. Today this granite quarry is one of the largest in the world and measures over 550 feet deep. More gravestones are produced here than almost anywhere else in the United States. Gross sales of Barre Gray granite topped 11 million dollars last year.

At the beginning of the 20
th century cutters and carvers arrived in Barre, Vermont from all over Europe to find jobs in the quarry and stone working sheds. At last count there were 57 stone working companies operating within the city limits. The work of these stone cutters has spilled over into the local Hope Cemetery where every autumn during the fall foliage season an average of 35,000 tourists come to view the unique tombstones found there.

If you would like to learn more about Barre, Vermont and the Hope Cemetery located there, just pick up the October 2003 Issue of the National Geographic Magazine or type in on your computer. This web site includes the full magazine article on Barre Gray Granite plus additional pictures of unusual tombstones found in the Hope Cemetery. Also mentioned is the fact that during colonial times Vermont granite was used for hitching posts and millstones and today its marble is purchased by the Department of Veteran Affairs for it standard grave markers.

Rest in Green Peace

Are you environmentally conscious for life? How about in death? That’s right. It’s not enough that you’re made to feel guilty about your SUV – now the tree lovers are taking issue with your burial, too. So-called green cemeteries, hundreds of which exist in Europe and Africa, are catching on in the United States. Marketed as an alternative to burial in traditional wooden caskets (which remain intact for centuries) and cremation (which wastes energy and causes air pollution), these cemeteries have an environmentally correct solution: bodies are buried in biodegradable shrouds like a blanket or cardboard; individual grave stones are not permitted. Texas environmentalist, George Russell is opening the country’s third, and largest, natural cemetery on an 81 acre lot on the shores of Lake Livingston in east Texas. “A pickled body in a case” is not only bad for the environment, Russell argues, but it doesn’t follow the Biblical concept of “dust to dust.”
Don’t buy into that? That’s OK. You need only believe in the environment to snatch a plot; the cemetery will be available to all faiths and species. (Family pets are allowed.) Fido may be gone, but the planet will not be forgotten.