Billings Quarry –
Revised 20 June 2001c
The quarry was
placed on 80 acres of land, bought from NPR by William H. Heffner before
established. It was located at the end of Virginia Lane at the base of the rims and
27th Street. It was positioned
800 feet east to west, and extended 1,000 feet toward the rims. The last of his
equipment arrived on August 12, 1882. Heffner was a large 265-pound man, a
former pioneer scout for the army, freighter, and sawmill operator for the
government at Fort
Custer, then operated a sawmill in Coulson in 1881 before starting this business.
Logs for the Coulson Sawmill were floated downstream
from places like Livingston. He hauled cut
timber to the railhead at Miles
City. He employed about
50 men during the summer months. He kept
10 to 12 teams hauling cut stone to the loading docks at the railroad between 27th Street
and Broadway (Main Street).
Up to four carloads a day were shipped to locations as
far as Chicago.
The first state capital building used this stone.
The site had a free-running water stream and provided water for cutting the
sandstone, and the saw boilers. A spring flowed through the outer edge of
the rims and was probably the source of the water. After 1950, the three access
entry points to this underground stream were sealed and hidden. Toothless
steel blades sawed through the sandstone slabs, using sand from the cut as the
abrasive material. All sorts of fancy
cuts could be made with the saw. Slabs weighing up to
20 tons would be blasted out of the rims and carried to the
saw. For harder stone a diamond dust abrasive
blade was used.
the stone was used in the Parmly Billings Library, the original courthouse, the
Gazette building, Billings State Bank, and most schools, churches and various
government buildings. The stone can literally be seen all over Billings,
as fences and retaining walls in Pioneer
Park, and along Rimrock Road.. In 1906 he ceased operations,
one year before his death. His son C J Heffner reopened the quarry in 1909, and
operated it until 1927. The steam boiler was handmade and remained onsite until
WWII, when local citizens rounded up all available
scrap metal for the war effort.
Yellowstone County Coordinator