Fiborn Quarry was created by a partnership of the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad in 1904. This small company town was built to house the workers (homes and a boarding house), offer a school and a general store. The operations consisted of the quarry plant, crusher house and steam engine shop.
In 1909, the Fiborn Quarry operation was sold to Algoma Steel and continued operating the open pit limestone mine until 1935. In the year of 1935, Algoma Steel required the residents to move; and so the buildings were either torn down or moved. It was briefly reopened when limestone was needed to pave US-2.
Algoma Steel ceased ownership in 1987. Fiborn Quarry was purchased by the Michigan Karst Conservancy.
The sole reason for Fiborn Quarry to exist was a need for its natural product; limestone of a high purity. Why? (Besides the obvious use as a construction material.) Calcium carbide is used to easily generate acetylene gas by placing water in contact with the carbide. Acetylene held broad potential as bright, clean, and economical light source. Calcium Carbide would be manufactured by cooking limestone in continuously operating electrical furnaces in the carbide plants in Sault Sainte Marie. In the summer of 1898 sources of suitable limestone were being sought in the eastern Upper Peninsula for use at the carbide plants in Sault Sainte Marie. Needs for pure limestone would soon bear directly on Fiborn Quarry and its residents.
The Eastern Upper Peninsula is an unlikely candidate for nearly pure limestone due to the rather recent passing of glaciers. Within this surface level â€œveinâ€ of limestone, ideal conditions have been formed in the concentrated wetlands which have formed caves. There is an underground flow of water which eventually drains into the Hendrie River. As of today, the process which formed the caves is also eroding them.
Some of the people who were born here and those who have spent a segment of their lives here, still return occasionally to look at what has become of Fiborn Quarry.
Links and more at Fiborn Quarry and the Michigan Karst Conservancy or just skip straight over to the Michigan Karst Conservancy & Fiborn Karst Preserve for the fascinating history and geology of Fiborn Quarry!