Press Releases

Lime Crest Quarry: Eons in the Making, Men and the Mining



“Lime Crest Quarry: Eons in the Making, Men in the Mining” will open at the Sparta Historical Society’s Van Kirk Homestead Museum on Sunday, September 25, 2016. The first major exhibit held on this important and historic Sparta quarry will explore the geology, minerals, men, and companies that held an interest in the quarry’s development over the past 125 years including Thomas Edison’s involvement.  Herbie, mascot of the Sussex County Miner baseball team, will also join us opening day from 1PM – 2PM.   Come for photos and enjoy the exhibit!


The exhibit began to take shape when the Sterling Mining Museum in Ogdensburg decided it was no longer interested in the model and photos of the quarry it had accepted many years prior. Sparta Historical Society’s Museum Director, Jack Clark, a retired mineralogist and museum executive, took a special interest in the availability of this material. With another board member, Joe Warner, he visited Bill Kroth, President of the Sterling Mining Museum, to confirm the availability of the Lime Crest historic material and the fact that this was indeed the same material that had been offered to the Sparta Historical Society long before it had a home at the Van Kirk Homestead.


The collection was soon relocated to the Van Kirk Homestead where plans were initiated to hold an exhibit in its Changing Exhibition Gallery, a facility unique to the historical society that reinforces the educational story of more traditional galleries. The exhibit soon evolved into a much larger concept. First there would be a three month exhibit in the changing gallery but, after that, the Lime Crest material would become part of a larger “History of Mining in Sparta” story to be located in a mine-like basement area of the 225 year old Homestead.

Sign Up for E-News


Former Lime Crest President and owner, Paul Viall, now located in Virginia, took an enthusiastic interest in the project and, in turn, enlisted the interest of former mining colleagues throughout the country. Current owners, Braen Stone Industries, also became interested through their CEO and Chairwoman, Janet R. Braen. All shared an interest in both telling the story of the historic quarry and preserving the documents related to its history before they are lost or forgotten.


The history of mining in Sparta, NJ includes a period when Thomas Edison was heavily involved with both iron and limestone. While he is most noted and remembered for his hundreds of electrical, sound, and movie-related inventions, his interest in mining became most evident in Sparta. With a personal fortune and major investment from John Pierpont Morgan, he purchased thousands of acres on top of Sparta Mountain to develop a large iron mining complex for over 500 miners and their families. With marginal success, the entire operation was shut down in 1899, a victim to more easily accessible iron ores in Minnesota’s Mesabi Range. With a price tag of over $3 million, this failure had a devastating impact on Edison’s financial resources. However, his fascination with mining remained undaunted.


He saw the opportunity to apply some of the processes he had developed for his iron venture to other mining efforts. His interest shifted to the production of Portland cement, a durable concrete first produced in England in the 18th century. Edison’s scientists researched the mixture and processes needed to make this product and, by 1901, had built kilns and processing facilities at New Village, NJ near Phillipsburg. By 1905, this facility was producing 3,000 barrels of cement per day from a nearby limestone quarry.


Thomas Edison did not discover the limestone/marble outcrop in Sparta. Photographs in the historical society’s collections show it being mined on a small scale in the mid-1890s. Owned and quarried by a local Sussex Mills farmer, the rock was the raw material for the production of agricultural lime in many locally-owned kilns. At the time, this was called the Crestmore Quarry.  The need for additional raw material with high calcium lime content was rapidly growing and Edison knew of the Crestmore Quarry on the western edge of Sparta.


This quarry was leased by the Edison Portland Cement Company from 1906 to 1908. Ultimately, the cost of shipping by rail from Sparta to the New Village facilities proved too costly. The quarry, relatively inactive after Edison left, reopened 1919 after its purchase by Limestone Products Corporation of America. The quarry’s name became Lime Crest. This company had a research lab that demonstrated that the calcium in limestone benefited the production of stronger egg shells when fed to chickens. They even had a spokes-chicken, Lady Lime Crest, who appeared on the Arthur Godfrey show!


After many lessees and owners the quarry is once again an active mine under the ownership of Braen Stone Industries. Today, the quarry is approximately 3000 feet in length, 1500 feet in width, and 300 feet deep.


The Sparta Historical Society’s Van Kirk Homestead Museum is located at 336 Main Street (Rte. 517, use Sparta Middle School driveway), Sparta, NJ (mail address: P. O. Box 312, Sparta, NJ 07871). This fall exhibit, sponsored by Braen Stone of Sparta, will be open every 2nd and 4th Sunday through Sunday, December 11th, 1-4 pm with a gallery walk at 2 pm. For information or group tours, use email ( or call 973-726-0883.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Blocked Plate Ends with Drug Charges

April 16, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Phillipsburg man pulled over for a traffic stop, ended up facing drug charges on April 11.  Around 7:55 p.m. on Route 15 Sparta Police Officer Steven Guido stopped a silver Saturn Ion for having an obstructed license plate, police report.

Charles Williams, 29, was driving with two passengers in the car.  When speaking with Williams, Guido smelled marijuana in the ...

Sparta Police: Running a Red Light ends with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A man stopped for driving through a red light on Route 15 wound up facing drug charges.  On March 30 Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Steven Lassends, 27in a black Infinity, on Route 15, police say.

When the officer spoke with the Montague resident, Herd smelled raw marijuana.  Herd, with the assistance of Sgt. Pensado, Cpl. Antonello and Police ...

Sparta Police: Traffic Stop Ends in Pot Arrest

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Ogdensburg is facing pot charges after a traffic stop on April 4 around 11 p.m. Police Office Thomas Herd pulled over a green Honda driven by John Malone, 23 for failing to move to the right lane, police report.

Herd smelled marijuana when speaking with Malone.  Malone admitted there was a “small marijuana roach” left in his car by a friend.

The Issue of Alternatives to Elected School Boards

April 14, 2018

The time of electing local school boards should come to an end. According to the National School Boards Association, “the local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


Fri, May 4, 7:00 PM

Sparta Evangelical Free Church, Sparta

Veritas Christian Academy presents The Music Man

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, May 6, 7:00 AM

Liberty State Park, Jersey City

11th Annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for ...

Health & Wellness

Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton Council Candidates Call for Elections to be Moved

April 12, 2018

NEWTON, NJ – Four candidates for the Town of Newton Council have the same idea; move the election for council members to the November general elections.  Candidates Matt Dickson and Jason Schlaffer and Ludmilla Mecaj and Wayne Levante just do not agree on how to make that happen.

As a Faulkner Act town, Newton originally established their non-partisan elections to be held separately ...

Six 11th Congressional District Candidates Attend 'Town Hall Project Morristown' to Answer Questions on Gun Control

April 9, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Following a massive turnout of over 13,000 people at last month’s March for Our Lives Morristown rally, the students behind the march organized an event called “The Town Hall for Our Lives.” This event brought together 11th Congressional District candidates who were questioned by student panelists about their views on gun control and how make schools ...

Home Buying Myths Slayed

Team Nest Builder wants YOU to know the truths about buying a New Jersey home!

Some Highlights:

The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!

Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.

88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!

The credit score requirements for mortgage ...

Buy A Home To Build Your Family's Wealth

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey. Team Nest Builder wants you to understand what that means for homeowners and their equity positions.

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home ...

Now’s the Time to Buy Your NJ Luxury Home

House no longer fits your needs? Planning on buying a New Jersey luxury home? Now is the time to do so!

Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.  The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these ...

Buy a Home NOW Before Mortgage Rates Climb Higher

Whether you’re a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, Team Nest Builder knows you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At ...

6 Simple Decorating Tricks for Your NJ Home

Ever watched “Trading Spaces” and wondered, “How do they pull together a beautiful room so quickly?”  Team Nest Builder knows! Read on for these 6 simple decorating tricks from the newly relaunched “Trading Spaces” stars.  You’ll be amazed at what a difference they make in your New Jersey home!

Let Your Heart Choose Your Art

Laurie Smith ...

Clean Your Closet and Help Sussex County Children By Donating Shoes

You know those shoes in the back of your closet that scream.”I grew up watching “Friends”’? Team Nest Builder wants to help YOU get rid of them while doing good for Sussex County children, through the Sojihuggles Children’s Foundation.

Now through May 15th, donate your gently worn, used or new shoes to help underprivileged children in Sussex County while ...

Want to avoid gaining weight? Don’t diet!

Researchers aiming to identify lifestyle factors related to weight management followed more than 4,500 young adults (average age 24) for ten years. At the end of the study period, 77% of the men and 72% of the women had gained weight. The lifestyle factors associated with no weight gain among the remaining 23% of the men and 28% of women were regular eating patterns (not skipping meals) and no ...

Marijuana’s Real Deal: The Impact on our Environment, Roadways, Workplace and Youth

April 22, 2018

The Center for Prevention and Counseling announces its Spring Conference to be held at Red Tail Lodge, Vernon, NJ on Thursday, May 31, 2018 from 8:30am until 3:00pm. Featured keynote speaker is Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., President and CEO, Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Dubbed by NBC News as “ the prodigy of drug politics,” author, consultant, advisor to three U.S. presidential ...