Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Pictured are ax heads discovered in the quarry where the stone for the Oneida Stake Academy was cut from the Cub River mountainside 120 years ago. They were found when Keith Mackay of State Stone returned to the quarry in 2005 to cut rock that has been and will yet be used in the academy's restoration.
John Nuffer was the head stone mason on the Oneida Stake Academy. He and his young wife, Louisa Zollinger, were living in Glendale (about five miles from Preston) amongst other members of Nuffer’s family who homesteaded there.
The calling required his full attention, so the young family moved to Preston as the Hale family did.
Although the plans for the academy came from church officials in Salt Lake City, Nuffer, who apprenticed in the city of Stuttgart, Germany, “modified the design considerably, accounting for its beautiful Gothic appearance,” stated one of his sons, Myron, in a letter to Newell Hart and reprinted in the Cache Valley News published by Hart between 1969 and 1982.
The stone from the building came from Nuffer’s brother, Fred. He ran a quarry on his property 10 miles up Cub River Canyon from Franklin (six miles from Preston) on Sheep Creek. Stone from the quarry was used “on the better buildings going up throughout the neighboring towns,” including Logan, where it was used to build the college.
“The contract to build the academy called for 2000 cubic feet at 25 cents per foot. The stone was used for corners, sills and water table.
“All work was done by hand. ... We used 12-foot churn drills and blasted large blocks loose from the main ledge. We had to be careful how much powder we used so as not to shatter or cause seams in the stone.
“We usually had to put a second charge in the opening made by the first charge to dislodge the block from the man ledge. The block so dislodged was from six to seven feet thick and about 20 feet long. From then on all tools used were hammers, axes, wedges and squares.
“Grooves were cut with axes where ever we desired to split the block, then wedges were set in the grooves about 10 inches apart and driven in with hammers. Then we dressed them down to the right measurement, allowing one half inch for the stone cutters to take out all the tool marks we made.” (Statements of Fred Nuffer published in Cache Valley News #45, 1972.)