Vonada Stone Company, Sylvan Grove
Vonada Stone Company sign. Photo courtesy Duane Vonada.
Vonada Stone signs can be seen throughout the state proudly bearing a family name. Photo courtesy Duane Vonada.
Duane Vonada uses vintage tools to break apart the limestone. Photo Marci Penner.
Vonada Stone uses a feather and wedge to break out the stone, which is the only way it can have a natural look and include the fossils. Photo Marci Penner.
540 E. Quail Lane, Sylvan Grove, KS 67481 [map this location]
Vonada Stone Company is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce because they use the old-fashioned feathers and wedge system to remove the post rock, they carve the stone free hand and use only antique tools.
These days few stone companies break out the stone with the feather and wedge, which is the only way it can have a natural look and include the fossils. Instead of sand blasting the Vonada's carve over the natural stone by free hand. Another rarity is that almost all the tools are antique.
The Vonada Stone Company was founded in 1986 by
At the beginning of this niche business, the Vonada's started engraving names on the 100-year- old-fence post. Soon they added many other signs, monuments, and garden fixtures, such as birdbaths, sundial mounts and stone benches.
The projects are sketched on the stone free hand using a die grinder, roughed, carved out, and then hand finished. The mill work on the sundials and birdbaths is preformed on a 100-year-old vertical mill that was rescued from the salvage crew when the Sylvan Machine shop closed its doors.
The raw material used is the Greenhorn Limestone. It is found in the Smoky Hills of central Kansas and was used in the past as building material and for the famous stone posts now called Post Rock. The Greenhorn layer is the only workable layer and it varies in thickness from 8 to 12 inches.
HOW TO SEE THE OPERATION
The Vonada's accommodate tour groups who wish to see how the stone is quarried out using the tools of a hundred years ago. Tours are given to customers or those with a great interest in seeing the shop where the stone carving is done and how the old vertical mill turns out bird baths and more. Visitors come to the shop to see the artwork that is engraved on the stone and to order one of their own.
Located: Vonada Farms and Stone Company is located 6 1/2 miles north of Sylvan Grove on K-181 to Quail Lane and then 1/2 mile west.