How Limestone Is Extracted at Vetter Stone

Limestone, well-known for its inherent beauty and durability, is a basic building block of the construction industry and one of the main materials in building stone. Making up approximately 15% of the Earth’s sedimentary crust, it is also one of the greenest materials on our planet. 

Limestone is extracted from open quarries like ours in the Kasota-Mankato stone district. At Vetter Stone, we have quarried, crafted and shipped limestone for use in building projects worldwide. We understand and have perfected the process of harvesting limestone from the earth for its final use at project sites. 

The actual extraction of limestone is made by separating the rock in quarry ledges and dividing it into blocks. Here is an overview of Vetter’s Stones extraction process:

  1. The overburden, or the material above the stone that is set to be harvested, is lightly blasted and removed. The majority of that debris (backfill) is temporarily removed for extraction purposes. The backfill will be added back into the earth in place of extracted limestone, while some will be further crushed and used for road bed. 
  2. On one exposed side, a 50-foot horizontal hole is drilled at the base of the ledge where limestone will be extracted. Another 50-foot hole is drilled every eight to ten feet. On the adjacent exposed side, the same process is repeated every four to six feet. 
  3. Wire is fed through the vertical holes, with the ends of the wire saw crimped together to create a continuous loop. 
  4. The saw and string wire are then aligned to the saw’s flywheel. This machine spins wire, pulling backward to bring the limestone block forward as it’s being cut. 
  5. A filled water bag is placed vertically behind the block, providing pressure so the limestone is released (or popped loose) from the quarry face. 
  6. A loader then moves the harvested limestone to the inventory area, where each block is labeled with the date and ledge number from which it was extracted. 
  7. This process is repeated until the full ledge is removed and all limestone blocks are extracted.

As of today, there are still more than 300-years of stone left to be harvested from our Southern Minnesota quarry, allowing us to provide high-quality limestone for use in building projects for future generations.

A fourth-generation family business founded by Paul J. Vetter, Sr. and his four sons, Vetter Stone has earned a reputation through a simple philosophy – consistent high-quality stone, expert technical precision, and superior personalized service. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with you or your business to make your vision a reality. Explore more on our website, Facebook page, or call 507.519.0714 for more information.