Colorado’s Sandstone

Have you ever been to the Colorado National Monument? Think of the red, imposing formations rising high into the air, beautifully carved by millennia underwater. Now, teleport yourself to the other side of the state at Red Rocks, can you imagine that iconic theater jutting out of the earth?

One of these places is a national monument and the other is a concert hall, so what could they possibly have in common? They both feature sandstone formations! Sandstone can be found throughout Colorado. Ever since European and American settlers made their way to Colorado, they have been opening sandstone quarries to harvest the stone and use it for building.  

How Is Sandstone Formed?

Sandstone is formed from, you guessed it, sand. Sandstone forms when layers of loose sediment are deposited on top of each other and hardens into large sheets of rock. Sandstone is often found in areas that used to be underwater, like all of Colorado. Many millions of years ago, Colorado was part of a vast ocean that ran right through the middle of what is now the continental United States. Because of the way it is formed, sandstone often contains lots of other minerals, which oxidize over time and usually give sandstone some variation of a reddish hue.

Colorado Sandstone Quarries

Colorado is abundant in minerals and natural stone! This is why the early history of Colorado contains numerous stories of new mines and stone quarries popping up overnight and turning into towns that still exist to this day. These stone suppliers distributed the beautiful red stone not just across Colorado, but beyond as well. To this day builders continue to choose Colorado stone for its beauty and durability.

There are just too many sandstone quarries in Colorado’s history to list here. Instead, we will offer a few highlights on some of the more intriguing rock quarries — places with interesting stories behind them or that were used in significant building projects. We will be going more in-depth to the history of some of these places in future blogs, so make sure to check back often!

  • Greystone Sandstone Quarry – used to build the outer quad at Stanford University
  • Stout (The Fort Collins Redstone Company) – used to build Denver’s County Courthouse. The former site now sits underneath Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins.
  • Loukonen Bros. Stone Company – our family-run quarry in Longmont has been in business since 1890. Our stone can be spotted at University of Colorado, Coors Field, the Garden of the Gods and the Denver Botanical Gardens!

Loukonen Bros. has well over a century of history with Colorado’s beautiful, natural sandstone. We are still family-owned, which shows our long-standing commitment to quarrying the best stone you can find in Colorado. Our stone quarry is managed so efficiently that we will be delivering you premium Colorado sandstone for many decades to come. You can see beautiful examples of our handiwork all throughout the state, and beyond. Stay tuned to our blog for more stone quarry history and fun self-guided tour ideas!