Shirley Donnelly: Mountain Stone In Brooklyn Bridge

Under construction, circa 1872-1887
 Prints, Drawings and Photographs: Brooklyn Museum / Brooklyn Public Library

Did you know there is a connection between the Brooklyn Bridge (NY) and Summers County WV?

According to Shirley Donnelly, the stone for the abutment of the bridge came from Sandstone, West Virginia.

Yesterday and Today –

By Shirley Donnelly

While returning home from abroad last of July, we were ferried across New York City in a helicopter in going from one airport to another from which we flew from Newark, NJ to Charleston.

In the helicopter, the stewardess served as guide to us. In the course of the 15-minute flight on the whirlybird, the young woman pointed out some of the landmarks on the landscape.

One with which she took special pains to tell us was the famed Brooklyn Bridge. A number of things about that bridge were told us but there was one thing about the Brooklyn Bridge she did not know.


WHAT SHE DID not know is that the stone in the abutments of the Brooklyn Bridge came from Summers County. Stone used in the bridge abutments was quarried at Sandstone in Summers County a short distance downstream from Hinton.

Just in case you don’t know it or stand in need of a refresher course on the subject, if you already have some knowledge of it, please be informed as follows.

Sandstone is a village and post office on the bank of New River in Green Sulphur Magisterial District of West Virginia’s second youngest shire, Summers County.


SANdSTONE IS on the main line of the C&O Railway. It gets its name from the stone quarry there.

The place was not always called Sandstone. It was called New Richmond at the first. For some time it was known to the public a New River Falls prior to the Civil War.

Some years after the war ended, the name of New Richmond was applied to the settlement. After 1880, the location began to go by the name by which it is called today, Sandstone. Richmond families were pioneer settlers here.


WHEN THE country was going about the job of putting up a tombstone to honor the memory of George Washington it was desired that each state send a stone to be built into the first president’s monument.

West Virginia responded by sending a big block of sandstone from the quarry at Sandstone.

The fact that the railroad ran right by the big quarry helped the operators of the quarry. They did not have far to transport the blocks of stone in order to get loaded on the cars, thus cutting down on transportation cost considerably.

When the C&O Railroad, now the C&O Railway, was building its line down the New River, a lot of stone was required for building bridge piers and ballast for the rails and ties. Those needs put the big quarry into business on a grand scale. The quarry was advantageously located.


IMMENSE GRAIN elevators built of stone at Newport News, Va., were constructed of sandstone quarried at Sandstone Faqlls.

It was Dr Samuel Williams who secured the West Virginia stone to go into the Washington Monument.

William Richmond was the first settler at the New River Falls, and from him the place ame to be known as Richmond Falls. There the C&O depot was called New Richmond for a long time New Richmond was named afther John A Richmond.

William Richmond, the first settler at Richmond Falls, was an Englishman. He fought England in the War of 1812 and then moved from Norfolk, Va., to the falls. There he lived until the time of his death in 1850 at the age of 98. He was the ancestor of Richmond family members living in Raleigh County and the area.

Sandstone quarry -
"From Tower to Tower—the suspension bridge over the East River—view from the Brooklyn Tower", an 1877 artwork
Harper’s Weekly, March 14, 1877, p. 288

The Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s first major steel-wire suspension bridge, uses a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge design, with both horizontal and diagonal suspender cables. Its stone towers are neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches. The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), which maintains the bridge, says that its original paint scheme was “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” and “Silver”, although a writer for The New York Post states that it was originally entirely “Rawlins Red”.

Early plan of one tower for the Brooklyn Bridge, 1867
Plan of One Tower for the East River Bridge, 1867. From the National Archives.
Brooklyn Museum – Brooklyn Bridge, Looking East, New York City Side, July 7, 1899.

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