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Column: Remnants of the area’s quarries can be found today
Johnny_Vardeman
Johnny Vardeman

As automobiles and trucks began to show up on roads in Northeast Georgia in the early 1900s, demand increased for better roads.

It’s not that people who still drove buggies and wagons didn’t make the appeal. But, dusty roads in the summer and muddy ones in the winter caused more problems for motor vehicles.

Better roads meant more demand for road-surfacing materials. Quarries already were operating around the area, but the stone from those primarily went into buildings.

John W. Spencer was operating a quarry at the end of Gainesville’s Oak Street in the early 1900s. In 1908, the city of Gainesville bought 10 acres from him for $1,000. That area now is Ivey Terrace and Wilshire Trails parks. 

You can see evidence of the quarry in the high cliffs between Oak Street and Ivey Terrace. Large and small rocks are also leftovers from the quarry.

A few months after the city bought the property from Spencer, they paid him $6 for damage to his crops from blasting. The city also bought 4 acres from W.A. Woods, who apparently operated Wood’s Mill, hence the name Woodsmill Road. This road branches off Oak Street and runs through part of the Gainesville school campus.

When the quarry stopped operating, Gainesville Rotary Club made a park out of it, and later the Civilian Conservation Corps improved it.

The Gainesville Parks and Recreation department with Friends of the Parks now keeps the parks maintained, upgrading them now and then. The parks actually begin at Rock Creek Park at the intersection of West Academy Street and Northside Drive.

Quarry Street in New Holland apparently got its name from a rock quarry that operated there. You can see evidence of that farther up the street, which begins at Jesse Jewell Parkway. The large development that is happening at the intersection of Jesse Jewell and Limestone parkways ran into some of the remnants of that rock during its extensive grading for the project.

Hall County also operated a rock quarry on Shallowford Road, and lawyer H.H. Perry bought a quarry near Klondike in South Hall.

Taxi! Taxi!

The 1985 Gainesville city directory lists only three taxi companies: Blue Bell on Athens Street, Summerour on Summit Street and Veterans Cab Co. on Washington Street. That’s quite a contrast from today when it seems sometimes on city streets every other car is a taxi.

That same directory listed only four funeral homes: Greenlee, Ward’s and R.L. Strickland on Broad Street — now Jesse Jewell Parkway — and R.L. Strickland in Clermont. However, Memorial Park Cemetery was in operation, and Memorial Park now operates funeral homes at that location and others in the area.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, vardeman623@outlook.com. His column publishes weekly.

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