|Debra Holland, Author|
Copyright © 2011 Debra Holland
When pioneers settled the West, they made homes and other buildings of whatever materials were available, wood, sod, or adobe brick. Yet when the time came for people to build their civic buildings, monuments, or mansions, the builders often used stone or brick. When building these monuments, the owners and architects often wanted the most beautiful and durable stone. One hundred plus years later, many of these buildings are still standing, a historical tribute to the people who designed, built, and used them.
The decorative stone used in many important early buildings in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa was Sioux quartzite, a pinky brown stone that lent a rugged elegance to the facades. Quartzite is sandstone that has been subjected to heat and pressure, and has been cemented with siica. Sioux quartzite is almost 100% quartz, so it resists erosion.
|This house, built in 1890, had the |
quartzite facade on the outside of the
first story and wood on the second.
Recently, I flew to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a wedding, but managed to slip in time for research. I loved the quartzite stone on the old buildings (and some modern ones) and even brought a handful of stones back with me.
In one of the museums, I asked if the veins of quartzite extended into Western Montana because I wanted to use it in my fictional town of Sweetwater Springs. To my disappointment, I learned that it didn’t. However, I realized that the hero of the book I’m currently writing could have seen the quartzite on his travels through the West, and imported it when he built a newspaper office.
Sioux quartzite also lends beauty to the countryside. In Falls Park, in Sioux Falls, thousands of years of the Big Sioux River flowing over the stone have carved amazing channels through the rock. Unlike most vertical waterfalls, these falls are more like a liquid escalator, swirling around the pillars and basins cut by the water.
While the water flows swiftly, the river is broad and shallow, allowing for wading and swimming in the various pools. In spite of the park setting, it’s easy to imagine the Native Americans living by the water, and, in the 1900s, how important the river must have been to the early settlers.
|Road paved with|
Check out the Montana Sky series from Debra Holland! Learn how Starry Montana Sky came into being in RTW's Debra Holland: Starry Montana Sky.
Buy links: Amazon Smashwords Barnes & Noble