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A Brief History

More than 450 million years ago, during the upper-Silurian and Devonian period, mother nature created the ideal conditions for producing the dolostones and limestones that formed the basis for the highest grade natural cement in North America. This limestone, which later became known as the famous Rosendale deposit, played an important role in the growth of America. It’s discovery in the early part of the nineteenth century literally helped lay the foundation for the country’s move west and its rapid industrialization.

Mining companies, such as the Newark Lime and Cement Company were formed to take advantage of this high-grade limestone for use as cement. To extract the limestone required the building of room and pillar mines which are considered engineering marvels and are highly stable. Natural cement or hydraulic cement, as it was also known, was used in the construction of canals and some of the country’s most notable landmarks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the United States Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Statue of Liberty.

After mining operations ceased in Kingston circa 1900, the mine lay dormant until two enterprising young men envisioned a new use for it in the 1930’s. Herman Knaust and his brother Henry, who pioneered the mushroom industry in New York State, were in need of additional growing space for their expanding business. The mines in Rosendale and Kingston, New York, proved a natural fit providing the constant cool climate needed to grow mushrooms.

With great insight, Herman Knaust and Paul Sturges, a renowned industrial consultant, designed an air conditioning system for the Kingston mine that was decades ahead of its time. This green technology harnessed the geothermal powers of the mines rock mass in addition to the mines own natural water supply which provided a unique air conditioning system for the facility.

See a short documentary film on the history of the mine here