Liberty Derrick at Stearns County Quarry Park


after fifty years of sitting idle
the liberty derrick lives again most people would refer to a derrick as a
crane but this unique relic of the early twentieth century granite quarrying
industry redefines what lifting power can look like the liberty derrick has been rejuvinated and
relocated by stearns county to show visitors how blocks of granite were
removed from the quarry floor the first step in creating granite
products for a growing stone market let’s take a step back in time and look at how
the liberty derrick came to be frank yogerst an aspiring mechanical
engineer decided to get out of automobiles and create a granite
quarrying and manufacturing business in nineteen twenty-four he founded the
liberty granite company just southwest of the city of waite park
minnesota in the heart of granite country liberty granite was established on the north
side of what eventually became quarry park and nature preserve stearns county largest park being located on a spur line that connected
its business quarrying operations in quarry park into a main railroad system
was a formula for success for liberty granite company the twenty five employees of liberty
worked round-the-clock shifts their saws buzzed all night long reducing twenty ton blocks of granite into finely polished monuments and building stones there were no barons in granite just
lots of hard working families chipping a living from one point seven billion year
old bedrock yogerst retired in nineteen fifty five
and the liberty derrick was left to oversee the disappearance of the company until stearns county parks acquired in
the nineteen ninety-six the liberty derrick saw little use of its twenty ton
lifting capacity in 2004 stearns county moved the derrick
into quarry part for restoration and analysis major deterioration had occurred on the
single piece douglas-fir mast and boomarm new timbers were needed and would be
about fifteen thousand dollars each it looked like the cost would be the death
knell for the restoration project thanks to an anonymous donor in two
thousand five new timbers of douglas-fir were ordered and hope for restoration grew the hall oaks lumber company of monroe oregon the only steam driven sawmill in north america harvested two one hundred ten year old
fir trees on april seventh two thousand five at 7:30 am from the
oregon coastal range the eighty-five foot long timbers arrived by
truck at quarry park on may 19, 2005 patient park carpentry staff spent most of
the summer of two thousand five transferring the original hardware to
the new timbers the spider base straighteners and
brackets were all hand fitted to the new timbers with care and old fashioned dedication in two thousand six with timbers restored it was time to use a
modern crane to hoist the liberty derrick to its new home on the south ledge of benzie
fourteen on a slab poured for a derrick back in nineteen forty six park staff orchestrated the hosting of
the refurbished derrick. the weight of just the new mast with all its
guidelines is nine thousand pounds cold spring granite quarriers
assisted park staff in securing the new cables to staples and deadmen the mast and boom were hoisted into place
overseeing quarries that had been dormant for half a century thanks to bob ramler the best volunteer
imaginable and a retired quarrier from cold spring granite staff were able to
erect the derrick and secure it according to specifications for wooden derricks of
the early nineteen hundreds bob knew how tight to secure even the most
obscure aboard to make sure the mast was plumb he
measured it the old-fashioned way with a two-by-four crescent wrench and a piece of
string with the newly secured derrick in place
park staff next constructed a concrete slab for anchoring the drum hoist and power
equipment which would be installed in two thousand seven however the one hundred year old
machinery still needed restoration flywheels drums breaks springs and
gears all needed inspection the original fifty horsepower general
electric motor had to be baked and revarnished to bring
its power back to original levels the liberty derrick was ready for recabeling
and again the modern crane returned to quarry park to help place cable through the mast sheaves eighty-five feet above the ground to the drum hoist the restoration project was on the last leg
of its journey. a shelter for the motor and equipment was needed dale gruber construction stepped up to the
task and donated design construction and fundraising services to complete the project in celebration of completion dale
arranged a dedication for september nineteenth two thousand eight which would
include lifting a four ton block of st cloud red granite out of the quarry. all systems
were go. with so much dedicated service given to the project bob ramler had to be the man to flip the power switch and hoist the
first block of granite in fifty years from a quarry floor at quarry park and nature
preserve though the sixty-some spectators at the dedication all live in granite country none of them had ever seen what they
witnessed that day history came alive

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