I recently attended the Pickens County Marble Festival in Jasper. It was actually the second year I had attended and this time I was determined to also take the tour of the marble quarries.
As most people may already know Jasper is referred to as the “Marble Capital of the World,” being that it produces most of the marble in the U.S. and throughout various parts of the world.
Thankfully I was graciously comped a couple of tickets by Michelle Kuriger who is the Marble Festival and Tourism Director to take the tour and learn about the history of the marble industry.
I have to say it was extremely interesting and I did learn a lot on the 2 1/2 hour tour which took us to two of the major mining companies and a stop through the town of Tate to visit the museum.
Tate is actually named after Samuel Tate, the man who founded and started the Georgia Marble Company in 1884. He also built his own elaborate home there made out of the marble with giant pillars standing 22 feet tall. The impressive mansion still stands there today, used for various public meetings and is also registered in the National Historic Register.
Since that time the marble quarry has been sold several times but retains the same name. It is said that there will still be plenty of marble in that same quarry to last several more centuries!
It was really amazing to learn about the town of Jasper and Tate for all that they have contributed to society since the giant marble mine was first discovered.
It is said that the marble was even used as far back as 800 AD by Native Americans and then later in 1830 when the first marble quarry and marble mill was started by Henry Fitzsimmons.
One of the really impressive sites that utilized the local marble was the Capitol in Washington, D.C. with 60 percent being used in monuments.
Other well-known places used by Tate marble have been the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, the Abe Lincoln statue and National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Ohio, and many of the headstones in the Arlington National Cemetery as well.
In addition to the marble tour the festival had many events and activities especially for the little ones like this huge blow-up four-wheeler!
Not all marble goes into building great fortresses and monuments. I was surprised to learn that some is even crushed and refined into a powder-like substance that can then be used in making products like toothpaste and Tums antacids!
Besides the great educational tour experience, back at the fair I got to shop around for some great hand-crafted items as well and listen to the great bands that were entertaining all day long on the two stages.
There was also a lot of entertainment for the kids to keep them busy such as the rock climbing and huge jump houses as well as clowns doing some face painting too.
Plenty of photo-op places had been set up around the grounds with a lot of fall color and hay bales to get you into that autumn experience.
All in all it was a great day for the family to get out and enjoy the comraderie and beautiful fall weather. The Jasper Marble Festival takes place the first weekend in October every year and is hosted by the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce.