October 2009: For The Record


For The Record

‘Stories in Stone’

I was introduced to another fantastic book recently, “Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology” by David B. Williams (Walker & Co., Here’s an excerpt from chapter five, which talks about Castillo de San Marcos, a famous fort in St. Augustine, Fla., nicknamed “the clam.”

Carolina Governor James Moore was the first to discover the power of the clam when he lay siege to the Spanish colonial town of St. Augustine in 1702‚ĶAs the siege progressed, Moore’s circle tightened. By November 24, he had located four of his biggest guns only 750 feet from the castillo‚ĶThe cannon fire could not break the walls of the clamshell.

Moore’s men continued to dig their trenches closer to the fort, supplemented by erecting rows of gabions, rock-filled cages that provided a protected shooting site for gunners. They also burned the southern end of St. Augustine. By December 19, they had advanced to within pistol shot of the castillo, and still their artillery did little damage to the massive, spongy walls. They would get no closer.

Now that’s a story in stone.

In our September 2009 issue, we mistakenly ran an erroneous opening paragraph in the feature entitled “The Cast Stone Dilemma” by Gary Fry (p. 22). Following are the first two paragraphs, as they should have run. You can view the corrected article in its entirety on the home page of our Web site, We regret the error.

Cast Stone is alive and well in these challenging times. But, the construction industry struggles to maintain its equilibrium as the nation’s economy is challenged and many markets shrink. If the purchaser succumbs to the temptation of making the decision based solely upon price, he will more than likely face a dilemma with the resultant process. It’s a good time to think about basics.

Cast stone is a masonry product that provides ornamental or functional features to buildings and other structures. It gives the appearance of a variety of natural building stones, and applications range from the simplest windowsills to the most complicated architectural elements. Properly manufactured, it has the same or stronger physical properties as most dimensional building stone. In essence, cast stone is a highly refined architectural pre-cast (concrete) product manufactured to simulate natural cut stone. Concrete is a basic building material that serves a multitude of construction applications. The ingredients are readily available, and the skills required to make concrete are relatively simple. So, what does “highly refined” mean? Basically, it means manufactured in compliance with a set of standards.


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