US Route 250
The Sandusky area has relied on limestone
since it was founded in the early 1800's, as a large deposit
of high-grade limestone lies just beneath the surface in Perkins
Township. Quarrying here has been a basic industry since the
first settlers moved out from New England and used the stone
just under their feet to build their new community.
"The City of Sandusky is founded upon
a rock," wrote a Sandusky Register writer in 1896. "It is underlain
with the finest quality of white limestone ... and the lime industry
of Sandusky and its immediate vicinity is one of the most important
Although officially established in 1912,
work at the Wagner Quarry Perkins Township 600 acre site began
before then. Many local churches, schools and businesses, as
well as homes and apartment buildings in later years would be
built with and on top of Wagner Quarry stone.
Today this region remains the leading
source of limestone products in the state. It is a basic ingredient
in virtually all construction. Houses and highways, skyscrapers
and sidewalks, factories, bridges, sewer lines and septic tanks
all require limestone. In Erie County alone, more than 9 million
tons of limestone products are produced per year.
Quarrying is a highly specialized and
competitive business. It consists of removing limestone from
underground, which we do by blasting, and crushing it several
times to achieve the desired sizes. The material passes over
a series of screens, and under scrubbers whose high powered jets
remove dust and impurities from the finished products. We produce
approximately 15 different gradations, each of which is required
for a specific purpose and is screened and washed to meet specifications
of the Ohio Department of Highways, which sets the standards
for limestone quality. Finished products run from very fine material
for agricultural use, to pieces a foot square for jetties, erosion
control, or bank protection. In between are gradations for concrete
aggregate, highway blacktop, sewage leach beds, and dozens of
While limestone is a valuable
resource for the community, area residents alive today may see
the end of quarrying at the Wagner Quarry Perkins Township
location in their lifetime.
THE CASTALIA QUARRY RESERVE
State Route 101
According to locally available historical
documents, Quarry #5 (as the Reserve area was known during its
days of commercial use) began operations in the early 1870's.
During the 1870 to 1929 period, stone was mainly removed for
use as shoreline erosion protection. It was also employed for
general building purposes.
Two railroad companies serviced the quarry
carrying the stone to the lake ports of Sandusky and Huron for
transport. A long time local resident, Leslie Alspaugh, worked
as a switchman for the railroad cars crossing route 101. He recalls
that it was not uncommon in the late 1920's for Route 101 to
be blocked for several hours a day as stone loaded cars left
When the Great Depression struck
in 1929, quarrying activity at this location ended. Twenty five
years would pass before the quarry would re-open commercially.
In 1954, the Wagner Quarry re-started operations at Quarry #5.
The machinery was upgraded so that the quarry would be up to
the task of supplying stone for the new Ohio Turnpike. Production
sped up, and the work force was scaled down thanks to new, more
efficient machinery. Up to 400 tons of stone were mined per hour
- a 20-fold increase from the 1920's operation.
Quarry #5 stone was used during this period
as foundation for both the Edison and Bay Bridges, which cross
the Sandusky Bay. Many state-owned roadways in the area were
furnished with stone from this site during this period. However,
when these major construction projects were completed in the
early and mid-1960's, competition from other quarries to the
east was too great. Quarry #5 closed in 1965 and moved most of
the machinery to other sites. For the next 22 years the land
was left to fend for itself.
1987, the Reserve area was deeded to Erie MetroParks through a
combination gift-purchase arrangement. Wagner Quarry of Sandusky
donated the 110-acre parcel located south of State Route 101. As
part of the transfer arrangement, the park district then purchased
the remaining 42 acres of Wagner Quarry property north of State
Route 101. The combined total of 152 acres makes the area one of
the largest parks currently managed by Erie MetroParks.
Keeping passive use recreation and preservation
in mind, a master plan was developed in order to guide long range
development of the property as a reserve and recreational area.
One of the features envisioned in this plan was an observation
platform. Now that platform is a reality. From 195 feet above
mean Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie level, visitors can view the
old quarry floor as well as a panoramic view north across Sandusky
Bay and western Lake Erie.
May 1997, the observation platform at the Castalia Quarry Reserve
opened and was dedicated to Wagner Quarry , who donated
most of the acreage for the reserve in 1987, and $9,000 for the
master plan on 1989 .