River John

Sandstone was quarried along the River John, Pictou County, in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Two quarries that were adjacent to each other were located about 300 metres north of the River John railway bridge, on the east side of the river.

The H. McNab quarry was a small operation that quarried brownish-red sandstone from the bank of the river. In 1914, it had one steam derrick and one steam drill. Six men were employed at it.

The L. and W. Gammon quarry also extracted from the riverbank. The opening was about 50 feet long and 50 feet deep into the escarpment in 1914.

The Gammon stone was bluer in colour than the brownish-red in the McNab quarry. The Gammon quarry had one steam derrick and one steam drill. Six to eight men were employed.

Both quarries shipped most of their production to Toronto by rail for use as coursing stone. (In building, each horizontal layer of bricks or stone laid in mortar is called a "course"). McNab’s stone was valued at $2 per ton for coursing stone.

The bridge piers and towers of the River John railway bridge were built of sandstone from these two quarries. The highly variable colours of the stone are apparent in the bridge structure.

Both the McNab and Gammon quarries stopped operating in the early 1900s.