Deep in the Upper Crystal River Valley in Colorado, just over the mountain from Aspen, lies the town of Marble – a small town with a big history. Around the 1870s, during the great Western Expansion, prospectors traveled to the area in search of gold and silver in this small Colorado town. While their efforts over the next decade did not yield them much success in this endeavor; they stumbled upon an unexpected treasure – one of the largest and purest deposits of marble in the world. This stunning revelation was declared “remarkable” and “flawless”. By 1899 the town of Marble, Colorado was incorporated.
In 1905 major development began when plans for the Yule Marble Quarry were funded from a $3 million investment from Col. Channing Cheek with help from the Rockefeller family. And from here, the word spread that “the Marble Age is here” and the population of the town and the quarry began to expand. During this rapid expansion, the town boasted the world’s largest marble deposit and the world’s largest building under one roof. Between 1912 and 1917 the population increased and the town saw a boom in population up to 1,400 people.
To this day, five grades of marble are still quarried at the Yule Marble Quarry: Calacatta Lincoln, Calacatta Gold Extra, Calacatta Golden Classic, Statuario Colorado, and Aspen Grey. The Calacatta Lincoln is by far the quarry’s most prestigious and sought after material. All Yule Marble shares the common characteristics of smooth texture, homogenous color, and a luminous surface. Characteristics such as these caught the attention of architects across the country, and especially of those commissioning projects and monuments in Washington D.C. The Yule Marble Quarry completed the prestigious task of sending marble to Washington D.C. to build the Washington Monument. And shortly after, architect, Henry Bacon, loved the marble so much that he (successfully) urged that it was used to clad the entire exterior of the Lincoln Memorial– which, in fact, gave this material it’s infamous name.
The town and quarry saw a loss in population and revenue around 1917, when most of the Italian and Austrian workers returned home to fight in WWI. But in 1930, business increased when the quarry was contracted to build The Tomb of the Unknown Solider forArlington Cemetery. At the time, this was the largest and purest marble stone to be extracted.
In 1941 The Yule Marble Quarry was closed due to declining demand at the brink of WWII. As part of the war effort, the tracks and equipment were taken and sold for scrap. The once bustling quarry, which held so much promise, continued to lay dormant without much demand or interest once soldiers returned home.
As of 2011, the quarry is owned and operated by Mr. Enrico Luciani. Originating from the Carrara Region of Italy, his primary goal is to translate the tried-and-true tradition of the Italian Carrara methods to the Colorado Yule Marble Quarry. Luciani’s company, R.E.D. Graniti, took over operations and ushered in the quarry’s current mini-boom. In 2012, they started removing stone from a new site just up the slope, where quarry master, Stefano Mazzucchelli, located a new vein of stone in the mountain and called it “Lincoln Gallery”, to honor the Italian/American connection. This new vein, referred to as Calacatta Lincoln, is now a worldwide, top-selling stone and is celebrated as one of the most purest marbles.
Calacatta is, arguably, the single most sought-after grade of marble in the world! This historic stone features a clean, white background with thin grey and taupe veins with a homogeneous texture. It makes for gorgeous countertops, flooring, statuary, and sculpture, as witnessed in the Lincoln Memorial. Calacatta Lincoln is not only the most beautiful white marbles, it is a piece of US history.