In 1888, George VanTine and S.W. Fenton located a good deposit of sandstone near Tenino. The bought the land and with Charles Billings started the VanTine Stone Company. This company later became VanTine and Fenton and ultimately the Tenino Stone Quarry Company. The first sandstone was shipped out of Tenino in 1889. Part of the face of this quarry can bee seen today behind the swimming pool in the Tenino City Park.
Tenino's second sandstone operation began soon after. The Eureka Sandstone Company's quarry was on Old Military Road about a mile east of town. In 1889 it had a crew of eleven quarry men and a rail spur of its own. Sandstone was shipped to Tacoma and also supplied to the Northern Pacific Railroad.
By 1891, the Tenino Stone Quarry employed fifty men and shipped as many as fourteen rail-car loads of sandstone a day. New machinery was expected to double the production and orders continued to come in.
In 1901, the Tenino Sandstone and Townsite Company purchased land and platted an addition to the town of Tenino. This company later became the Hercules Sandstone Company and operated a quarry on Lemon Hill just west of the town limits. Later this company also took over the Eureka quarry.
Tenino sandstone is medium hard, fine grained and easy to work when first cut. It hardens after lengthy exposure to the air. It was quarried near an existing rail line and much of it was shipped custom cut to save paying freight on waste. The sandstone was used on building projects over a wide area. The east wing of the Old State Capital; the Masonic Temple in Spokane; banks in Boise, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon and Aberdeen; a railroad depot in Missoula Montana; churches in San Francisco, Walla Walla, Yakima and Tacoma; libraries in Seattle and Portland; and two blocks representing Washington State- one in the Washington Monument in Washington DC and the other in the Freedom Memorial in Philadelphia are among structures built with Tenino Sandstone.
Artisans in Tenino also produced columns, arches, window frames, fireplace fronts and other architectural details.
Orders for sandstone decreased as concrete came into common use by 1912. The local industry had a short reprieve when the Hercules Company goat and order for granite from its quarry in the Skookumchuck Valley for breakwaters at Grays Harbor. But this project ended when WWI broke out. In 1923, Andrew Wilson, who earlier came to Tenino as a stonecutter, bought the sandstone quarry on Lemon Hill and operated it as the Western Quarry until the late 1930's.
In the early 1980's, the quarry on Lemon Hill was opened briefly to supply sandstone for the Puget Sound National Bank building in Tenino (Now Obee Credit Union). The quarry (Hercules Co., then Western) was opened again in 1992 by Northwest Stone, Inc. of Tualatin, Oregon. In 1998 the quarry was purchased by Marenakos Rock Center, a company at Issaquah, WA
Today, the Tenino Stone Company Quarry is a public swimming pool. Typically open in July and August.