Ostergard Quarry was established by Claus Henric Ostergaard, a first-generation Swedish immigrant, in 1791. Sited on a knob of granite 12 miles south of the village center of Maundbury, NH, Claus provided stone largely to the funeral industry for the purpose of grave markers and mauseleums.
In 1801 Ostergaard secured a contract for the delivery of "fine grained granite whiskered grey and black" for the The Armitage Memorial Library, on the town square in Maundbury. At Mr. Armitage's inistence, all granite was dressed on-site, requiring teams of thirty or more oxen to pull drays laden with outsized blocks of stone. The heaviest transport operations were reserved for winter, when blocks could be pulled through open fields on sleds.
It was during the latter part of the Armitage contract that a distinctive vein of flat black granite was discovered in the deepest reaches of the quarry. Unique in the region -- and arguably the world -- the stone was remarkable for posessing virtually no veining or inclusions. It was remarked that the granite "...held no reflection, nor any other regard for light, save that it would drink it all and leave none for any other purpose." Dubbed "Absolut Black" by Ostergaard, pursuit of this vein of stone became his life's obesession. In order to attain suitable supply, Ostergaard's quarry workers invented new techniques for drilling, cutting and blasting. Claus relied on his brother, Ingram Ostergaard, a Doctor of Pharmacology and a chemist by training, to create new formulations of black powder for blasting in the increasingly deep, dank and seemingly inpenatrable reaches of the quarry.
The Ostergaards' were undone -- suddenly, and violently -- when tragedy struck the quarry and its workers in August, 1831. It's unclear whether a new formulation of blasting powder proved unforseeably potent, or whether there was merely confusion over how much was to be used during an otherwise routine base-blasting operation. In any case, a singular blast rocked the quarry. the scale of which is reported to have shattered window panes seven miles away, and was heard and remarked upon in Maundbury, itself. The blast tore a vast hole in the basin of the quarry, where an underground stream tore through the rift. The force of the blast, the water, or both, collapsed the quarry's derricks and towers, and sent no fewer than thirty men to their deaths in the roiling black water, including Claus Ostergaard and his nephew, and brother Ingram's son, Pehr. [One week later, Ingram took his own life by ingesting a potent tincture of opium.]
No bodies were recovered; all were presumed to have been pulled downstream by the forces of the current.