old quarry of lyonsLyons History Video Project
Documentary Videos/DVDs

about the sandstone, geology, and history
of the area surrounding Lyons, Colorado.

Directory of Media

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"Our Stones Gather Moss"
"Lyons Sandstone Quarry History"

Executive Producer
Project Director
Kathleen Spring

A perspective of Small Town Quarrying
in the USA, 1880s to today

quarrying videoboarding house Everything you wanted to know about quarrying and small town life, and some you didn't know to ask, can be found in "Our Stones Gather Moss; Lyons Sandstone Quarry History." This video intends to preserve small town life, and quarrying methods, through photographs of the quarries and tales of small town life as accounted by the residents. The red sandstone is said to be the hardest sandstone in the world, and due to its durability and color, it has been used all over the USA. Tales place the rock used for sidewalks of New York, and the brownstones in Boston. Today it is being shipped as far as Germany, Vietnam, Hawaii and Guam.

The small town of Lyons, population approximately 2,000, begin for the white civilization in the 1860s when many men sadly realized that the area would not be producing their own gold strike, and they settled in with their families to farm the fertile land at the foot of the great Rocky Mountain range or grow cattle.

When Edward S. Lyon gave up his hope for gold, he settled in the rich farm area in 1880, but his eyes were more focused on the easy-accessed outcroppings of red sandstone in the rugged mountains. Knowing a bit about quarrying from his home state out East, he decided to introduce quarrying to this area. He plotted out the town and built a schoolhouse to bring families to Lyons and the quarries.

After a slow, but productive start, the industry eventually boomed, with as many as 1,000 men working in the quarries. Lyon himself was not able to be a big success because he wasn't influential enough to bring a train into town. Soon after he sold his partnership share, he left for California. The Brodie/Murphy quarry brought in the train and production boomed. It is believed that their quarry was the largest in the west. A small ancillary town called Noland formed, with boarding houses, a general store and a small school, just a few miles outside of Lyons. The handful of large quarries were owned by various individuals over the years, and most are still in the same families.

sandstone churchWith the introduction of cement, the sandstone industry almost died out around 1912. The town of Noland became a ghost town. Only a few Front Range churches and the University in Colorado-Boulder used the sandstone on their buildings. But through the ingenuity of a couple of men, a razzmatazz sales man, and the inventor of the sandstone cutting machine, the industry boomed again a few decades later. Today the stone yards have so many orders that many of them already have enough business to last them ten years into the future.

What makes Lyons unique is that all the major businesses in town (the sandstone quarries and stone yards) are family owned. With all the corporate take-overs in America today, it is a rare situation. In addition, the owners are family-oriented people, with old-fashioned gentlemanly business operations.

large stone-cabinSome of the current stone yards owners and operators (men and women) today are now in their 3rd and 4th generation. Some owners begin as quarry workers, and they didn't even own the shovel they worked with. In this documentary, you will hear about their struggles and triumphs of living alone in huts and trailors without electricity or running water, and yet hear how they remember it as happy, close family times. Neal Sprague describes how many people felt about switching from farming to the sometimes dangerous quarrying jobs: "There were times when you almost had to buy a job to get a job."

This is not just "talking-head" interviews, but many on-site discussions. Leonard Loukonen, whose father came here before the turn of the century, will show you where his dad's house and stable were located. "He came up here, looked around and made his decision. He walked back into town and stocked up on provisions. Then he came back up here and spent half a day building his cabin and went right to work quarrying the stone."

The documentary continues its story right up until today, including discussion on government regulations, what a stone mason carries in his bucket, sandstone furniture and art work, and more.

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    NOTE 2019 -- the postage rate has gone up, and we are in the process of increasing it at the Paypal web site. Thank you. Also, these videoes are available on Ebay, for a slightly higher price, to pay for our additional fees payable to Ebay.


    *NOTE*Please email us and tell us which Videos/or/DVDs you are ordering to expediate the service! Let us know if you want it in VHS video or DVD.

    QUOTES from Documentary...
    "There's several stone businesses in this area. The people that owned them, that are now apparently milionaires, they started out working with a shovel... They've got orders from cities all over the United States... I've never been in a city in the US that didn't have Lyons red stone. The Town of Lyons is a big town in the stone industry; it's a small town (1,500 people) but everybody in the stone business, and most of the world, knows about Lyons' stone."
    Chris Jenkins, inventor of the sandstone cutting machine.
    "In today's time, everything is suppose to be done fast... so the stone masons that get there are more concerned with getting the job done fast... I show them...there's so much effort there in getting it out of the ground, so much history involved. We're working with material that hasn't seen sunlight in 200 million years. It's going to be there 3-400 years. You shouldn't just throw it in the wall; and walk aay from it. You should take a little bit of extra time, and make sure it's cut right; not just cut."
    Lynn Randolph, expert stone mason, an example of the pride that Lyons stone cutters and masons take in their work.
    "My father and uncle were two of the nicest, kindest, most generous people. They helped so many people in so many ways. They were well respected,"
    Cynthia Loukonen, 4th generation daughter who helps run the stone yard today. Many kids grew up in isolated places, without electricity, water or heat, but had fun in safe open spaces where families were close.

    Order your copy today.

    The documentary tells the story of the rough and lonely life of quarry families, and how the business today is owned by a small number of families,and not organizations. It includes experts, like the Curator of Geology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explaining the formation of giant sand dunes in the area, whose crushed granite sand eventually formed the hard sandstone. Also, aerial views of the area make the layout of the land and quarries clear. And, dozens of black and white photos of life in the quarries at the turn of the century. Kathleen Spring was the executive producer, and the main camera person, including interviewing, scripting and editing. Selected research done by Al Pace, local historian and journalist.

    video cover"Lyons Geology,
    Front Range from Boulder to Ft. Collins"

    Includes narration from Dr. Jack Murphy, Curator of Geology, Denver Museum of Nature & Science; on the site of the Murphy/Brodie/Boone sandstone quarry, which was claimed to be the largest such quarry in the West. Three geological maps (color coded), a cross-section map, a stratigraphic map. Emphasis on the Ingleside Fountain, Lyons and Lykins Formations--Today these 250 million year old rocks are exposed in this area. Explanation of the red sandstone color, dendrites (fernlike in appearance), location of the great sand dunes that covered this area, inland lakes, and more.

    aerial view Aerial views of the landscape, including the Town of Lyons, sandstone and limestone quarries, main highways, Carter Lake, Horsetooth Resevoir and more. See the Town of Lyons from the air, as well as many other area quarries and homes. aerial view

    "It's such a clean quartz sand, and it's so hard and breaks apart into these flagstones. This is what makes it a world class building flagstone," said Murphy. "This floor (I'm standing on) is a natural surface. This wasn't cut. This is one of the bedding planes that broke off. You can see the other planes below it. It's quite fantastic. It reflects the original shape of the sand dunes, which are 250 million years old."

    "Lyons Tourist Video", or "Come On and Stay a While"
    for tourists and prospective homebuyers

    A short film on what to do in Lyons--for tourists and prospective home buyers. Get a glimpse of the spectacular scenery, the unique shops, the business/wellness/entertainment services offered in town, and more. Makes a great "memory" gift for a person who has left the Town. Showcases fun things to do for the tourist, including mentioning concerts, river activities, festivals, etc. and takes you inside some unique stores. For the prospective homebuyer, it mentions what local stores (eg, drug store, churches, post office, etc.) will be available to you.

    Sample of events happening in Lyons (other examples are in video).

    $9.95 plus postage. Online special: *ONLINE SPECIAL* $5.00, mention this ad; $2 pstg. media mail; no postage if ordered with any other video/dvd here. Note, this is on VHS tape.

    premiere of latest video premiere of latest video
    Premiere screening of video in Town.

    new The "Quarry Sandstone" and "Lyons Geology" videos
    have now been converted into DVDs.


    Order by mail, or
    in the summer: Lyons Tourist Center and Lyons Redstone Museum.
    ==Via mail, $4.95 priority mail (2 to 3 days) for 1 or 2 videos/dvds. -or-
    ==$2.50 Media mail (up to 6 days for delivery) for 1 or 2 videos/dvds.
    ==Tourist video: free postage if ordered with other videos/dvds.
    ==Order instantly, via PayPal, link on this page.
    Ask for large quantity prices, or for outside USA.

    business details"Our Stones Gather Moss" Historical documentary on families and quarries. Everything you want to know about quarrying, including tools, regulations, formation, etc. $19.95 plus postage (approx. 2 hours in length!)

    business details"Geology of Lyons Area" On the geology of Lyons hogback, running from near the Wyoming border to midway through Colorado, including the complete interview with Dr. Jack Murphy, and the entire aerial view of Town of Lyons, and nearby Front Range, up to Carter Lake (Ft. Collins) and down toward Boulder. $9.95 plus postage (approx. 30 minutes)

    business details "Come On and Stay a While (Things to do in Lyons)" A short film on what to do in Lyons--for tourists and prospective home buyers. $9.95 plus postage. (Online special: This video is only $5.00 if ordered with any other video featured here, and no extra "media" postage).

    history of Lyons 2003History of Lyons, Colorado couples-interviewed
    This book is "in the works"; and anticipated completion is 2011.
    Ten years of pioneer video-taped interviews edited into a comprehensive history of the Lyons area, from the mid-1800s to today. It will include both the history of Lyons and life experiences of residents, such as what it was like to arrive on a covered-wagon, what it was like to attend a high school graduation of 4 to 11 students, etc. Write us if you'd like to receive an email announcing when it is completed.

    volunteersVolunteers. There are often opportunities to help in the video production, including learning production skills, or interviewing skills; also accounting, typing, and transcribing needed. If you live in the Lyons area, please call us for details, or email us at the address below.

    lecturesLectures: E-mail questions or to inquire about LECTURES or BOOK SIGNINGS contact Kathleen Spring at: lyonshistory@ ..yahoo ..com.

    business detailsRe-Sales: If your Museum, book store, or library would like to help support this Project by selling copies of the documentary; please contact us at (303) 823-0997, or the address below.

    touristsTourist Info. For more information about the town that will be of interest to the Tourist as well as the new home buyer, go to the History page.

    touristsDonations: To make a donation to either the Pioneer Interviews project or the renovation of the historic 1881 Redstone Museum, please contact us for instructions.

    touristsHistory Books on Lyons For a list of books on Lyons, go to the Redstone Museum page

    touristsFacebook Become a FACEBOOK fan of "Pioneer Videos" or "Redstone Museum". Go to the bottom of our History and Tourist Info page; or go to: www.facebook.com/RedstoneMuseum or www.facebook.com/LyonsHistoryVideoProject
    Become a Fan you will get periodic updates of events, offerings and anecdotes.

    What's the difference between "historic" and "historical"? If an event changes or makes history, then it is "historic" like the "9/11 attack." But if it is a part of history, such as a document, study, or piece of history, like a personal letter written by Benjamin Franklin, then it is "historical."

    SCFD sponsor Major funding through SCFD (Colorado) 3 grants: 2000-2002,
    Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.
    Lyons Historical Society, LaVern Johnson, and the Lyons Town Council,
    John Ramey (2000-2); and many other generous donors.
    The sandstone video (2001) was made possible by additional donations from
    Blue Mt. Stone, Loukonen Stone, Western Stone, and Arkins Park Stone.
    2008 Sponsor: Blue Mountain Foundation, Lyons
    Web Site hosted by Kathleen Spring.
    VIDEO preview of what the Town has to offer
    is shown in the Visitors' Center (10 minutes in length) and on the Lyons Chamber website.

    Know a friend without a computer,
    we'll send a brochure. –
    Use this Address to send your order and check to:

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    For Information on the Documentaries, contact:
    Kathleen Spring, Project Director
    EMail: videos@ rockymtretreats. com Lyons History Video Project
    P. O. Box 274
    Lyons, CO 80540
    303-823-0997 call 10am to 7pm Mountain MST only please
    For Tourist Information, Contact the Chamber for a Directory
    Tourist Office (303) 823-5215
    or, pick up a copy at the Tourist Center
    (Full time staffed June to September;
    part-time staff October to June) Opens no later than Memorial Day weekend.
    Town Hall (303) 823-6622

    teaserFor more information about Rocky Mt. Retreats & Workshops
    for the Mind & Spirit (sponsors of this website), go to Retreats

    Date last modified: October 24, 2011/ April 2019 9:00 AM

    Disclaimer – Copyright 2001: All logos, photos, and original and html text are Copyright © by Kathleen Spring and/or Lyons History Video Project. Copyright 1998-2012 entire web site. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction or use is prohibited without written permission from owner. – All prices are subject to change at the reasonable discretion of the owner. Videos are for home viewing, unless written permission is given.