Construction Techniques and Equipment

The work on the Capitol and in the quarries was done largely by hand and a number of photographs show the hand tools that were used. The power for hoisting loads was provided by horses and at times by men. When a heavy block of stone or other construction materials had to be moved, however, steam powered cranes and hoists were used. On the Capitol site, several hoists, some on raised tracks atop the rising building, were used to lift heavy blocks and iron girders into place. Quarries used human and horse-powered hoists to lift and move stone blocks, as well as steam powered hoists to raise blocks from inside the pits to nearby railroad cars. Steam-powered drills, channeling and polishing machines to cut and extract stone blocks, as well as pneumatic chisels to shape stone other were introduced during the statehouse construction period for use in quarries and construction sites

Shadow of a ladder on the Capitol construction /Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society. Used with permission. Shadow of a ladder on the Capitol construction site
Quarry Worker using a hand-cranked hoist/Image courtesy Winona County Historical Society Human-powered quarry crane
Horse-powered quarry hoist/Image courtesy Winona County Historical Society Horse-powered quarry crane
Stone workers creating the Capitol cornerstone with hand tools/Image courtesy of Thomas Blanck and Associates. Used with permission. Capitol Cornerstone-Stoneworkers creating the cornerstone with handtools
Minnesota State Capitol, Workers, Tools, and Scaffold, Arch Construction, East Side, 6 1 1899/Image courtesy of Thomas Blanck and Associates. Used with permission. Stone workers hand tools-stone arches, east side of the Capitol building
Minnesota Capitol Construction, Dome, laying Guastivino tile /Image courtesy New York Historical Society. Used with permission. Guastavino Tile layers constructing the inner layer of the Capitol dome
Carpenter's tools used by William Martin Knudsen in the building of the Capitol/Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society. Used with permission. Carpenter's Tools used in the building of the Capitol