Written by Fred Nuffer for 1938 Cornerstone at USU

Old Main at Utah State Agricultural College (USU now), Logan, Utah, about 1900. The iconic front and tower were build in 1902.  Fred Nuffer provided 3,000 feet of cut stone for the construction of the south wing.

From Utah State’s Facility Planning.

“Old Main is the landmark of Utah State University and remains the oldest academic building still in use in the state of Utah.  In 1889, plans for “The College Building” by C. L. Thompson were selected by the Board of Trustees just two weeks after the land for the Logan campus was secured. The site was chosen the next day so that the main tower would be due east of the end of Logan’s Seventh Street —Today’s Fifth North.  Construction began immediately on the south wing of the three -part building and was completed in 1890.

“With more money appropriated in 1892 than anticipated, the Trustees hired [K]arl C. Schaub to redesign an enlarged structure and the construction began for the east part of the central section and the north wing.  It wasn’t until 1901 that the money was assured for the completion of the building. The front portion along with the tower was completed in 1902 with the design of H. H. Mahler.

Fred Nuffer provided his own contribution to the construction of the south wing of Utah State’s Old Main.  Another interesting side link, Karl Conrad Schaub’s widowed mother married Fred’s father, John Christoph Nuffer.  She was Anna Maria Alker who married him Conrad Schaub who left her widowed in 1894.  Fred Nuffer provided stone, Karl provided design.  Karl and Fred’s brother, John were friends and worked on buildings together.

Another entry from “We of Johann Christoph Nuffer, also known as: Neuffer, Nufer, Neufer,” The book was published in April 1990 by Dabco Printing and Binding Co in Roy, Utah. I will quote from the book itself.

The full title of this article from the book was named, “WRITTEN BY FRED NUFFER AT REQUEST OF OFFICIALS OF UTAH STATE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE TO BE ENCLOSED IN CORNER STONE LAID IN 1938, TO BE OPENED IN 1988, THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE COLLEGE.”

Utah State was founded in 1888.  It appears that the cornerstone was opened at 50 years in 1938 and a new cornerstone was sealed to be opened in 1988.  As Fred Nuffer was involved with some of the construction of the campus, he was requested to write for the cornerstone.  This was the original part of Old Main, south wing, of what is now Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

“I will recount in detail, as I remember it, the work done by myself and others in supplying stone for the construction of the Utah State Agricultural College buildings in Logan, Utah.

“In the year of 1891-1892, I made contract with Mr. Venables of Ogden to deliver about 3,000 cubic feet of cut stone.  Mr. Venables had previously tried to get the stone somewhere south of the valley, but found the stone unsuitable, and the party could not fill the order.  As I had furnished stone for several buildings in Logan, Mr. Venables came up to see me.  I lived near the quarry at that time.  He inspected the quarry and pronounced the stone suitable and gave me a contract to fill the order.  The quarry was located about ten miles up Cub River Canyon from Franklin, Idaho, on the left side slope going up the river, on a small tributary creek of Cub River called Sheep Creek.

“All work was done by hand.  The main ledge was about 20 feet above ground and about 20 feet wide and 400 to 500 feet long.  We used 12 foot churn drills and blasted large black loose from the main ledge.  We had to be careful how much powder we used so as not to shatter or cause seams in the stone.  We usually had to put a second charge in the opening made by the first charge to dislodge the block from the main ledge.  The block so dislodged was from 6 to 7 feet thick and about 20 feet long.  From then on, all tools used were hammers, axes, wedges, and squares.  Grooves were cut with axes wherever we desired to split the block, then wedges were set in the grooves about ten inches apart and driven in with hammers.  Then we dressed them down to the right measurement allowing one half inch for the stone cutters to take out all the tool marks we made.  Mr. Venables furnished bills for stone in dimension sizes as needed in the building.

“My brother, C[harles]. A[ugust]. Nuffer, worked on the job the whole time it lasted.  I also had a man by the name of Ed Hollingsworth of Preston, also Mr. A. Merrill and Mr. Abel Smart of Cub River, and Mr. Robert Weber of Providence.

“It took part of two years for the job, 1891-1892.  The hauling was all done with wagons and horses: 30 to 35 cubic feet was a good load for two horses.  The following names were the men doing the hauling: John McDonald of Smithfield, Jean Weber of Providence, and Jake Rinderknecht of Providence hauled more than any other.  He used to leave home at 3 a.m., load up the same day and get back to Logan by 3 p.m. the next day.  It was very hard on the horses.  I also hauled a good many loads with my own team.  All loading was done by hand on skids.

“I got 40¢ per cubic foot, of which 20¢ was paid for hauling.  We had a hard time handling the name stone to go on the front of the building.  When it was ordered it had 30 cubic feet in it and only one foot thick.  When the stonecutters got through with it they had found it too big to be hoisted in place so they made it smaller until there wasn’t much left.

“The most difficulty I had was in not getting my pay from Mr. Venables.  We overlooked a large 4-horse load at the final settlement.  A few minutes after I had signed the receipt for the final payment in full I discovered my mistake.  Mr. Venables refused to pay for it, although I produced the bill of lading signed by him.  He didn’t dispute the debt, but said he had a receipt paid in full.  He didn’t have anything, and the government property couldn’t be attached, so I was the loser of about $15, which seemed a lot of money to me at that time.

“by Fred Nuffer, Sr.

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