What is a “galamander?” Many might assume it is some kind of amphibian but Mainers familiar with the long history of stone quarrying in the state would know better.
Along Route 182 in West Franklin, an unusual wagon sits beneath a wooden cover. It earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. This specialized stone lifter and transporter, called a galamander, was a critical piece of horse- or oxen-drawn equipment for the quarrying of Maine stone.
The Robertson Quarry Galamander stands today as a reminder of Maine’s profitable and dangerous stone industry. Just as logging in Maine was made profitable through close proximity to the water, quarrying could be established with relative ease on the waterfront.
From the 1830s until the mid- 20th century, Maine was one of the national leaders in granite and slate quarrying, boasting more than 150 quarries and employing thousands of skilled workers.
A tremendously dangerous occupation, laborers risked injury by dynamite, sledgehammer or dust inhalation from finishing sheds. Talented stone cutters, many of them European immigrants, produced stone products that were shipped all across the nation, made possible by equipment like the galamander.
(Vintage Photo Credit: Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of VintageMaineImages.com, item No. 23396)