Earth is made of rock, from the tallest mountains to the floor of the deepest ocean, with thousands of different types gracing the planet. Most rocks at Earth’s surface are formed from only eight elements—oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium. But what is unique is that all of these elements combine in a number of ways to create rocks that are all very different. From talcum powder to silver jewelry to the stone we build our homes with, it all comes from inside this great big rock we live on.
When you chat with Bill Carter, you quickly find out that he’s all about rock. Lots of rock. Carter and his partner, Brad Mercord, own Montana Rockworks, located in Kalispell, Montana, just a stone’s throw from Glacier National Park.
Rockworks specializes in architectural and landscape stone, and is the largest supplier in the region, offering their clients the oldest and most beautiful stone in the industry—stone that is only found in Rockworks’ quarries. They help homeowners, architects, and contractors bring the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains into their homes, designs, and building projects.
After a few minutes chatting about their thriving business, Bill turns into a rock hound, explaining enthusiastically, “You know, we quarry all our stone right here in the Montana Rockies.” I was almost expecting to hear, “Hi, my name is Bill, and I’m a rockaholic.” But very quickly, Carter had me fascinated, staring at amazing shapes, color, and textures of, yes, rock.
“I never thought much about rock until I got into the rock business,” says Carter. “I never had a collection when I was younger, but now, I look at rock everywhere. So when you see it as an element to add to your home or landscape as an aesthetic component, maybe to add depth, or a certain feel or shape, you won’t look at rock the same way again. It always leaves a lasting impression.”
Montana Rockworks was formed over a decade ago, when Carter’s partner Brad Mercord’s thriving specialty-stone landscaping firm one day outpaced production capabilities at the local quarry, right in the middle of an upscale project. So, Brad and Bill bought the local quarry, upgraded it, and finished the job.
PROMOTING ECO-FRIENDLY BUILDING AND DESIGN TECHNIQUES
Build Green with Thin Veneer Stone
Rockworks’ continues to elevate their business by revolutionizing the natural stone Thin Veneer industry. There are several green aspects, says Carter. “Because thin veneer stone weighs approximately 70 percent less than full-thickness stone, diesel fuel efficiency is sharply increased. Any truck and supporting equipment, which carries and delivers the stone, now carries several times more square footage than a truck hauling full-thickness stone.” Carter continues, “By reducing the weight and cutting the stone down, it will install easier just like artificial stone, but it’s absolutely the real deal and the footprint on the environment is less.”
Natural stone is a very low-maintenance veneer. Once the material is completely installed, little else is needed to maintain the stone through the years.
MONTANA ROCKWORKS QUARRIES
From the heart of the Northern Rockies to their network of quarries nationwide, Rockworks is able to supply a large variety of stone for any type of architectural or landscape project. The benefit of all the rock they quarry is that it’s produced primarily in a linear/rectangular shape. This makes it a great option for building walls with structural integrity, both dry stack and masonry.
MONTANA ROCKWORKS’ CHIEF CLIFF SERIES
“Our Chief Cliff Series produces beautiful varieties from square to rectangle shapes of natural stone that have parallel tops and bottoms,” said Carter. “This gives you the ability to stack, and at the same time gives you structural integrity. Today, the market trend is a very linear, stacked look and the beautiful thing is that’s how our rock comes out of the ground.”
Perched high in the forests of northwest Montana, the McGregor Lake quarry overlooks its namesake, and produces a prized variety of their very popular Chief Cliff argillite. “The versatile stone from this quarry is mined from a cliff and is visually stunning. It’s light grey in color with strong gold, bronze, and tan tones,” explains Carter. “What’s very prevalent is the dendrite pattern,” he continues. “A dendrite is a crystal growth that formed a molecular pattern when the water was very rich in manganese and iron, and as it dried out in the natural fracture of the rock, it formed a multi-branching “tree-like” shape. This pattern creates a snowflake formation and frost patterns on a windowfern pattern, creating the striking look of a natural, individual piece of art.”
Stone from Rockworks’ Moose Mountain quarry is from a formation, and this rock is grounded in a dark, smoky gray, with dark chocolate brown and tans that blend together for a remarkable material.
THIS PAGE, TOP Stunning lakeside setting in Chief Cliff squares and rectangles. THIS PAGE, BOTTOM Castle Rock Ledge double-sided outdoor fireplace.
Because the stone is quarried from a talus formation, a dark patina is prevalent. Stone from Moose Mountain marries the colors from the nearby Castle Rock and McGregor Lake quarries, which makes it an excellent choice to blend with their most popular Chief Cliff Series stones.
With bird’s-eye views of two different valleys, Castle Rock is a high alpine quarry perched atop a ridgeline. The core of the stone is dark grey, its surface coloring ranging from light tan to a dark chocolate brown that displays the ruggedness of northwest Montana. Carter adds, “The Castle Rock is hand- and machine-picked from talus slopes and the dark patina is from centuries of exposure to the elements.”
Other choices include Montana Antique, a perfect pick for those wanting to achieve the look of the old West, or Autumn Gold, a stunning combination of golds, tans, and greys with splashes of copper throughout, or Echo Valley, a striated stone with long lineal lines, predominately grey with subtle brown and beige tones throughout.
Bill Carter and his team’s intent is to help his clients achieve a lasting impression. “It’s not a necessity to build with rock,” says Carter, “but everyone can, and it’s affordable at every level. It’s a beautiful aesthetic where it’s all about colors, textures, and shapes. It’s art.” Spoken like a true rock star.