Oakley stone is popular in the U.S., Canada, and even in Europe, because of its range of colors, from silver to gold and everything in between, but also because it is efficient. It can be split much thinner than competing rock from other quarries. A ton of Oakley Stone can cover 250 to 300 feet, while a ton of other stone veneers can cover 60 feet or less.
Oakley Stone was formed over the ages when layers of clay alternating with layers rich in quartz, compressed together. According to Terry Maley’s book, Exploring Idaho Geology, the alternating quartz-rich layers were flattened by the pressure so that the porosity of the material was removed and the quartz grains formed an interlocking mosaic.
The quarries for the stone are about halfway up Middle Mountain where they can dig through a shallow layer of dirt to access the tilted layers of sedimentary rock. It’s mostly hand work, chiseling along the front edge of the rock to break away plates as thin as a quarter inch and up to 4 inches thick. The plates can be as big as eight feet in diameter but are usually broken into much smaller pieces. Once on site, the stone is easy to work and shape.
Frank Lloyd Wright specified the stone for the interior and exterior of Teater’s Knoll, near Hagerman. The home was built for artist Archie Teater and is the only one in Idaho designed for a particular site by the famous architect. The color photo, courtesy of Henry Whiting, shows Kent Hale’s exterior rock work on the building. Whiting says that stone mason Kent Hale (pictured working on Teater's Knoll below) was the first to recognize the potential for Oakley Stone in the late 1940s.