Sedentary Rock: Limestone
During Sylvan Grove’s bicentennial in 1976,
Duane Vonada along with many other community members
pondered on their town’s heritage. After looking
around, the answer became obvious. Stone, particularly
limestone, was everywhere, and it truly was their
heritage. After all, there are the old stone quarries,
the limestone buildings, arch bridges and the countless
post rocks for as far as the eye can see.
decided to do something in commemoration. Consequently,
street signs made with limestone stand posts on
each end soon lined the city, thanks to the assistance
of Duane. Nearby Teascot had another celebration,
and it also recruited Duane’s help and was
quickly decorated with similar signs.
seeing Duane’s skill, a friend came up with
a diagram of a stonecutter and convinced Duane to
do a post with an engraved name. The rest is history
and now Vonada Stone Company.
The company was founded in 1986 by the Vonada family,
Duane, his wife Donna along with their son Damon
and his wife Janet. It is located in the heart of
Post Rock County on a third generation farm seven
miles from Sylvan Grove.
limestone is mined out of a quarry just down the
road from the Vonada farm. The feather and wedge
method is the same technique performed by their
ancestors who mined limestone for houses as well
as post rock. In the old days, they needed something
that wouldn’t burn up in the prairie fires,
so limestone rock was the solution, Duane said.
The only difference is that we utilize a power drill;
they used a hand drill. "Today we are able
to do in one hour what might have taken them one
week," Duane said.
is a sedimentary rock made of the mineral calcite,
which came from the beds of evaporated seas and
lakes once covering the region. As one looks around
the countryside, a yellow-gold color captures the
eye. Limestone is everywhere in the hillsides, fence
posts, bridges and buildings.
Stone Company makes the most of the rock to create
anything and everything imaginable. Benches, sundials,
birdbaths, personalized signs and other specialized
products are sold in their shops and at shows across
though the company is a family business, Dan Nagelea
has been with the company for over 12 years. Since
the Vonadas also ranch and manage farmground, without
Dan’s assistance, the company probably would
not be what it is today, Duane said. Dan does much
of the mining as well as the stone impressions with
help from Damon and Duane. Donna and Janet perfect
the products as they paint in the tiny crevices.
Everyone lends a helping hand as often as they can.
underlies much of the area in Lincoln County. The
roots run deep as does the ideas and traditions
of acquiring the stone. There’s lots of stone
here, if you want to have the patience to mine it
and make good use of it, Duane said.