Quarry Gardens, Schuyler, Virginia
Soapstone and Schuyler
Soapstone exists in only a few places in the world, among them Alaska, Brazil, Finland—and Central Virginia. For more than half a century, it was the reason and livelihood for the community of Schuyler.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed mostly of talc and magnesium. It is dense, solid gray, and non-absorbent; resistant to both acids and bases, electrically neutral, and heat-retaining. It has a soapy-feeling surface and is easily carved. Such qualities made it a useful material for laboratory countertops, laundry tubs, film developing tanks, electrical backboards, telephone switchboards, stair treads, and other architectural features.
There were some 90 quarries in the area. Six of those—now appearing as two rock-sided pools of water (each about an acre in area and 30-45 feet deep)—are central to the Quarry Gardens. It is estimated that some 800,000 tons of soapstone were removed from this site.
For more information about The Quarry Gardens, visit their website.