Documentary Record

By Bee Candelaria and Ella Johnson


The documentary record has the ability to supplement the archaeological record which we uncovered at the quarry site. Unlike the nearby Dike or Waterford Mill, the quarry does not have an obvious paper trail in which to follow. We searched particular keywords in Northfield News and Grange Advance archives in order to find possible leads to chase. These leads were few, but promising. While we did not find an exact paper trail for the quarry, we were able to trace where the stones in this quarry, Shakopee limestone, may have been used in the greater Northfield area.

Research and Methods

In consulting the documentary record, we used the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub to look through both the Northfield News (1879–1922) and the Grange Advance (1873-1877). We began by using the search term “quarry.” This yielded 115 results in the Northfield News and 14 results in the Grange Advance

Quarries not in Minnesota36
Narratives referencing quarries20
Quarries in Minnesota but not in Northfield37
Miscellaneous references to quarries27
Quarries or quarrying in Northfield9
(Table 1) Compilation of Results of the Documentary Record for the Quarry Site

Quarries of Interest in Northfield

Of the quarries or quarrying practices in Northfield, 3 reference H.A. Whittier’s quarry, 3 reference an “old stone quarry” as a landmark of Northfield, 1 references J.E. Crosby’s quarry, 1 references an unidentified quarry used to make the first sidewalks in Northfield, and 1 references a quarrying record made 20 years prior. 

H.A. Whittier’s quarry, the “old stone quarry,” and J.E. Crosby’s quarry are the most promising leads in the documentary record. J.E. Crosby’s quarry is said to be “by the city water tank and sand pit.” H.A. Whittier’s quarry is not given a location in either of the newspapers and neither is the “old stone quarry.” According to Up and Down Main Street 40 Years Ago, a book where W.F. Schilling looks back at the happenings of Northfield between the years 1895 and 1935, the quarry is said to be “south of the town near where Ray Larkin lives,” (Schilling 1935). And according to History of Rice & Steele Counties, Minnesota, Illustrated, Vol. II (Curtiss-Wedge 1910), H.A. Whittier’s quarry was located in the Bridgewater township (see Figure 3), not the Waterford township (see Figure 4). This is on the opposite corner of town than where our stone quarry is and is therefore not the stone quarry we have come across. 

Stone Usages In the Greater Northfield Area

As Ella Johnson mentions in her findings concerning the uses of the stone at the quarry, the Shakopee limestone found is mainly used in aggregate stone used as gravel or a filler. The newspapers archives do not specifically mention the quarry used for this. However, in the years 1899-1904 in Northfield News, the construction of sidewalks becomes a major talking point in the town. Other sources of documentation came from searches for Shakopee rock quarries in Dakota or Rice County.

Sidewalks in Northfield became a subject of high contention in 1899-1904. It is featured several times over in the newspapers as a controversial issue of safety among the community members. Sidewalks in the late 19th and early 20th century were formed mainly with cobblestone, brick, or wood. Because of the locality of the Shakopee limestone and their usages in cobblestone and gravel, it is likely that these stones were used in the construction of the first sidewalks in Northfield. It is even possible that the unnamed quarry in the April 9, 1904 edition of Northfield News could be the quarry site which we excavated.

Searching the Minnesota Newspaper Hub for references to “Shakopee” turned up only references to the city of Shakopee rather than the rock formation. Reports from 1918 and 1935 proved especially useful in this search and discussion.  In 1935, The Architectural, Structural, and Monumental Stones of Minnesota was published by the University of Minnesota Press by George Thiel and Carl Dutton. This report provided a list of historical quarries by county. There was only one referenced Shakopee quarry in Rice and Dakota counties but it was not in the correct township and section to be our site. This report also had a brief description of the Faribault-Northfield region which mentions Shakopee’s use in basements without referring to any specific location (Thiel 1935). The Structural and Ornamental Stones of Minnesota from 1918 by Oliver Bowels for the Department of the Interior, breaks down active and historical quarries in more detail. Three larger quarries are listed for Rice County, none of which match with our site. Five quarries are listed for Dakota county but again, none match with our understanding of our site. The report does mention deposits of Shakopee along the county border near the Cannon but no quarrying activity is specifically mentioned (Bowles 1918). Overall there is an agreement in these sources that there was quarrying in the counties but lack reference to specific small operations near our site. 


In conclusion, the documentary record of this particular stone quarry is not within easy reach. At first, it seemed logical that there must be a documentary record of the quarry. We have evidence to support that the site was, in fact, quarried. Therefore, it seemed that there would then be a record of who was quarrying the stone or even where the quarried stone was ending up. A documentary record could enhance our knowledge of the uses of the stone, as well as the labor practices of the time. It might be able to be seen with land deeds and other source materials. Although these materials were not found by this year’s group of Archaeology in the Arb, we are able to see the local uses of the rocks which would have been found at the quarry site. This leads to an interesting speculation that opens up further leads to study. These reports from 1918 and 1935, combined with our understanding of the stone’s usages, could further lend itself to some investigation into, perhaps, the sidewalks first constructed in Northfield or old basements.


Atlas and Farm Directory. 1915. Bridgewater Township, MN. History – Bridgewater Township.

Bowles, Oliver. The Structural and Ornamental Stones of Minnesota. Washington Government Printing Office, 1918. (  

Curtiss-Wedge, Franklin et. al. History of Rice & Steele Counties, Minnesota, Illustrated. Transcribed by Susan Geist, Vol. II. Chicago, H. C. Cooper, Jr., 1910. (p. 748,

Dakota County Outline Map. 1916. Dakota County, MN. Historic Map Works.

Grange Advance (1873-1877) MN Digital Newspaper Hub.

Northfield News (1879-1922) MN Digital Newspaper Hub.

Schilling, W.F. “H.A. Whittier” Up and Down Main Street 40 Years Ago. Northfield News, 1935, Northfield, MN (pp. 37-38,

Thiel, George A, and Carl E Dutton. The Architectural, Structural, and Monumental Stones of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Press, 1935. (