Tennessee Marble: characteristics of this pink stone

Tennessee marble - characteristics and uses

Tennessee marble is a crystalline limestone which can be found exclusively in East Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. Its pinkish color and the ease with which this stone is polished have made many builders and architects appreciate it. Tennessee marble has been used for the construction of many famous monuments in the USA and in architecture it is perfectly suitable for both interior and exterior projects.

Tennessee marble is not true marble, but it is actually classified as a limestone since it is not a metamorphic but sedimentary stone. However, its crystalline nature makes it very similar to marble, especially when polished.

Tennessee marble

History of Tennessee marble

Tennessee marble began forming over 400 million years ago. Small fossilized sea creatures and other organic material were compressed together by ancient ocean tides against the western edge of what is now the Appalachian Mountains. That is why, even when polished, Tennessee marble preserves a fossiliferous texture with a noticeable presence of indented horizontal gray or black lines, known as “stylolites”, formed during the natural limestone dissolution processes.

Uses of Tennessee marble

Tennessee marble was commonly utilized within the Knox County as a building material for homes, churches, schools and other buildings between the late 19thcentury and the early 20thcentury. Not as common today, Tennessee marble is anyway a much-appreciated stone for builders looking for authenticity, permanence, and beauty.

Tennessee marble can be used for many types of project and it is considered extremely versatile and durable for interior or exterior applications. Among the most typical uses we mention paving, flooring, bathrooms, windowsills, and historic renovation.

Pink is surely the most well-known shade of Tennessee marble so much so that it is also called Tennessee pink marble. Nevertheless, the stone also occurs in gray, dark brown (known as Tennessee cedar marble), and variegated shades.Among the reasons that make this stone esteemed by builders, besides its aesthetic colors, there is its durability, the ease with which it is polished, and the fact that the stone is virtually stain proof.

The quarrying of Tennessee tile and marblebegan in the late 18thcentury and intensified considerably especially during the 20thcentury. TheTennessee marble quarry activity always remained localized in the counties of Knox, Blount, Loudon, Union and Hawkins.

Tennessee marble has been used in the construction of several famous monuments and buildings throughout the USA: just to mention one, the United States Capitol.

The use of Tennessee marble sensibly decreased after World War II, when low-priced building materials became commonly available.

Tennessee marble quarrying

In the 1950s, only five Tennessee marble companies remained in operation. However, the stone continued to be produced on a smaller scale. The Tennessee Marble Company, which was founded in 1993, is currently the only major producer of Tennessee marble and there is no other source for significant quantities.

Tennessee pink marbleis abundant, but only found in East Tennessee. With many advancements in quarrying, fabrication technology and equipment in the last decades, Tennessee marble is now more readily available and becoming a stone of choice for landscaping, tile, fireplace surrounds, walls, countertops, slabs, monuments and more.


Picture 1 and picture 2 by Brian Stansberry, published under license CC BY 3.0

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