Oakley Stone

Yukon Gold Quarry




Southern Idaho produces its share of potatoes and sugar beets, but the quartzite stone industry isn’t far behind with respects to economic impact.  According to the Bureau of Land Management, stone from Oakley brings more money into Idaho than any other industry with the exception of agriculture.

Cherokee Charcoal Quarry

Even if you’ve never installed it in your home or yard, you’ve been affected by Oakley Quartzite (also known as Oakley Stone, Rocky Mountain

Quartzite or Idaho Quartzite). Ninety nine percent of its sells are outside of Idaho; the millions of out-of-state dollars that the industry brings in each year is a large chunk of Southern Idaho’s economic base that circulates through our local economy.

The industry directly supports about 100 families year-round and provides approximately 600 seasonal jobs. Although the industry relies heavily on seasonal migrant labor, the majority of the income stays right here in Southern Idaho. Most of the local quarry businesses try to buy trucks, equipment and supplies locally – essentially providing dozens of more jobs for those businesses. For example, a handful of local pallet companies exist solely to construct pallets for the local stone industry. In essence, Oakley Quartzite is a major source pumping in dollars that flow through the local community.

If you’ve lived in Southern Idaho – particularly the Mini-Cassia area – for any period of time, you’ve seen hundreds of large trucks hauling out stone. Where is it going? Oakley Quartzite is shipped all over the world. You can find stone walls, walkways and fireplaces from Oakley all across the United States, Canada, Europe and even Japan. You could go on vacation to Hawaii and walk on Oakley Quartzite pavers.

Birch Creek Quarry

What makes the stone popular is its unique quartzite formation. In the mountains south of Oakley, the quartzite is formed in large plates that can be easily split into thin veneers. As a result, masons are able to get more coverage out of less weight. Oakley Quartzite can be split down to a half inch in thickness and still be plenty durable to be used as a floor, patio or building exterior. This characteristic – together with quartBirch Creek Quarryzite’s versatility and workability – allows the local quarries to penetrate markets worldwide because freight costs are not an issue.

Southern Idaho Living – by Ryan Howe – May 2008