Carved in Stone
I haven’t been back to Alfred since I was a young adult, so while writing this article, I took a look at the pit on an aerial image served up on the Internet. Wow, what a change! Lengthy conveyors move excavated material from the working face to a crusher and screens. From there it goes to a surge pile, then to further processing, washing, and finally to stock piles. Process water sits in settling ponds. One part of the pit is fully reclaimed; other parts are just beginning to be reclaimed. Everything is neat and tidy.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The gravel pit at Alfred has made the same advancements during the last half of the 20th century that typify sand and gravel operations across the country. Automated plants have become the standard as operators continue to improve extraction, processing, and loadout techniques. Reclamation is now part of the life cycle of the gravel pit as companies strive to provide a sustainable product to their customers and satisfy public concerns while meeting the ever-increasing (not counting the last few years) demand for sand and gravel.
If I ever get back to Alfred, I might drop by the old gravel pit. Maybe they will let me roll a tire off the pit face or go boulder bowling. Or not.
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