Other Places to Find Sandstone and Novaculite

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Photo by Fotolia/JPS
Many states have deposits of novaculite and sandstone suitable for use as whetstones.

This guide to the locations of potential sharpening stone sources is adapted from a list published in the Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1890, volume 3, Whetstones and Novaculites of Arkansas, by L.S. Griswold. I have not attempted to correct any of the misspellings of the locations given here for fear of doing more harm than good. Your state geology department should have more detailed records for your own area. Good hunting!

Alabama. Sandstone is quarried near Eldridge, in Walker County.

Arkansas. “A quarry of this mineral [novaculite], three miles above the Hot Springs of Washitaw, has often been noticed by travelers for its extent and excellency of its quality” (Henry R. Schoolcraft, 1819). Lower Silurian novaculite is found in the following counties: Garland, Hot Spring, Howard, Montgommy, Pike, Polk, Pulaski, and Saline.

Dakota. Sandstone is found near Buffalo Gap in Custer County and schist near Tigerville in Pennington County.

Georgia. There is novaculite in Lincoln County on a low hill two miles from the Lincolnton courthouse, projecting nearly vertically from the ground over an area of four or five acres. It is straw-colored to greenish white. It is also found near Graves Mountain. Another whetstone grit is found in McDuffie, Heard, Troup, Oglethorpe, and Meriweather counties.

Indiana. Hindostan quarries were opened about 1840. Two stones are quarried, one a shoemaker’s sandstone and the other a very fine-grained, compact sandstone, used chiefly for whetstones by carpenters, mechanics, and others. These are found in Orange County, French Licks 9, and Orangeville 2.

Maine. Novaculite is found in abundance near the forks of the Kennebec, eighty or ninety miles from Hallowell Silurian novaculite is found near Phillips and Temple in Franklin County. There is Huronian serpentine novaculite on Little Deer Island and Western Island in Hancock County. Sandstone may be found at Nutter’s Head in Washington County and Cambrian novaculite at York in York County.

Maryland Cambrian novaculite is found on the Patuxent River, near the road to Washington, Anne Arundle or Prince George counties.

Massachusetts. The vicinity of Boston furnishes compact feldspar analogous to the Turkey stone. This lower Silurian novaculite slate of Middlesex County is found near Cambridge, Charlestown, Concord, and Malden. In Bellingham, 22,800 mica schist whetstones were manufactured in 1838. In Essex County, Silurian novaculite is found near Nahant. Lower Silurian mica schist was worked commercially prior to 1841 at Enfield, Norwich, and Cummington in Hampshire County. Other novaculite slates are found in Norfolk County at Dedham, Milton, and Quincy and in Suffolk County at Brighton, Brookline, and Dorchester.

Michigan. Huronian novaculite slate is found at Carp River and Teal Lake in Ontonagon County and at L’Anse in Baraga County. Sandstone is found in many places in Huron County.

Mississippi. There is good sandstone on Big Bear Creek in Tishamingo County.

Missouri. Sandstone is found in many places in Randolph and Barton counties, at Pierce City in Lawrence County, and at O’Bannon’s quarry in Madison County.

New Hampshire. A fine-grained stone from Lisbon in Grafton County was known as the “chocolate.” Those from Orford came from the shore of Indian Pond and were sold under the “Indian Pond” brand name. Other Grafton County stones are found at Littleton, Haverill, and Piermont. A Silurian novaculite is found at Tamworth in Carroll County,

New York. There is Silurian and Cambrian novaculite slate in Columbia County at Clermont, Germantown, Greenport, Livingstone, Rogers Island, Stockport, and Stuyvesant. There is sandstone at Labrador Lake in Cortland County and Beaver Kill River and Monticello in Delaware County. Silurian whetslates are found in Rensselaer County.

North Carolina. The stones from McPherson’s quarry in Chatham County, five miles west of Woodin’s ferry on the Haw River, have a finer and softer grit than McCauley’s. They are bluish and yellowish white. On the Salisbury Road in Randolph County, near Deep River, is a bed of a similar kind, highly valued by the inhabitants. Other fine stones are found at Barbee’s mill, two miles south of Chapel Hill, on the Flat River in the eastern part of Person County to the narrows of the Neuse, and near Wadesboro in Anson County.

Ohio. Sandstones are found at Berea in Cuyahoga County, Amherst in Lorain County, Hocking River in Hocking County, Manchester in Summit County, and Farmington and Mesopotamia in Trumbull County.

Pennsylvania. Lower Silurian sandstone is found in Berks County at Oley. Cambrian micaceous sandstone is in Delaware County at Avondale, Darby Creek, Marple, Township 2, Springfield, and east of Swarthmore. Cambrian mica schist is in Chester County at Hayes’s quarry on the Newlin Township line and in the middle of the county.

Rhode Island. The Geology of Rhode Island in 1840 reported production in Smithfield of six to eight thousand dozens of whetstones. Mica schist is found one-half mile northeast of Woonsocket village, extending a mile southwest.

South Carolina. Huronian novaculite is found in Abbeville and Edgefield counties and on Turkey Creek in Chester County.

Tennessee. There is sandstone near Knoxville and on the French Broad River a mile above Dandridge in Jefferson County.

Vermont. There are oilstone quarries on an island in Lake Memphremagog. The island is about seven miles west of Stanstead Village. One quarry is now entirely under water and the other partly so. These were large quarries with stones of good repute. There is Cambrian novaculite slate at Thetford in Orange County and at Guilford and Marlborough in Windham County. Huronian mica schist is in Windsor County at Ludlow, Plymouth, and Stockbridge. Cambrian mica schist is found in Newport, Trasburg, and Brownington. There is Huronian talcose schist at Northfield in Washington County and mica schist at Berkshire and Fairfield in Franklin County.

See The Whetstone Quarry: On Finding a Sharpening Stonefor information on making a whetstone.