GNH Lumber-Outdoor Living-JUNE 2024

Callanan Industries celebrates 140 years

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Sustainability Manager Evan Onuskanych, of Callanan Industries, explains the history of 400 million year old fossils found at the quarry, which pre-date the dinosaurs. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

SELKIRK — Callanan Industries got its start at a quarry in Selkirk and 140 years later has grown to include sites across much of upstate New York, from Ulster to Madison counties.

The company celebrated its 140th anniversary with an open house Saturday and invited the community to come celebrate with them.

“The company was started by Peter Callanan in 1883. Callanan got the very first macadam road contract in New York state back in the early days,” President Don Fane said. “The company has grown tremendously.”

The original Selkirk quarry, which lies on the borders of Coeymans and South Bethlehem, remains the company’s flagship location and employs hundreds of workers.

“We employ, depending on the season, anywhere from between 450 and 500 employees a year,” Fane said. “We have seven paving crews and we have around 45-50 Teamsters delivering ready-mix concrete, aggregates (stone), asphalt and/or TACK, which is the liquid that goes below the pavement. We have six distributor trucks and 13 asphalt plants.”

The quarry at Callanan Industries in Selkirk. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The company has changed ownership several times over the years, but retains its local history, he said.

“We are very proud of being from this area and for growing so much over the years,” Fane said.

At the open house Saturday, visitors could take tours of the quarry in a bus to learn the history of the site and how the products are processed. There were exhibits about the company’s operations, including the products it mines and produces, and its sustainability efforts, as well as children’s stations and displays of heavy equipment used at the site.

Callanan mines about 1 million tons of aggregates, or stone, each year and processes it into materials that are used to produce asphalt, cement and other products that are used in constructing roads, buildings, sidewalks and for other uses.

Assistant Quarry Manager Sean Mooney took visitors on a tour of the quarry and explained the history of the company and its Selkirk site.

“This is Peter Callanan’s original quarry, which he opened 140 years ago,” Mooney said. “He decided that the rock here would be good for making road material — back then it was just carriages. He started to mine it and blast it, and put it out on the roads. He received the first contract with New York state to do highways and roads — that is how Callanan was formed.”

Quarry equipment that processes the aggregates, or stones, that are mined at the site. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The original owners had their share of challenges and tragedies along the way.

“In the late 1800s, Peter Callanan had a tragic death and his wife took the company over, which was pretty unheard of at that time,” Mooney said. “She stepped in, along with her sons, and they were able to keep the company growing. She had many offers to sell the company but she decided to keep it in the family. They had a tragic blasting accident a few years after that where they lost 20 miners, including one of her sons, and she did continue to run the business, and put us where we are at today.”

Site Manager Bob Bushnell said the open house was designed to celebrate the company’s 140th birthday and invite the community in to see what they do.

“This is where it all started and we wanted to do community outreach,” Bushnell said. “Being that we are in mining, it gives a negative [image] — we want to show people what we do and that we love this community just as much as they do. I’m the third generation in my family to work here. We want our neighbors to see what we do — it’s a nice thank you to the community.”

Ryder Williams, 4, and Brealynn Williams, 2, check out one of the children’s station at Callanan Industries as their grandfather, Bob Williams, looks on. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Bob Williams brought his family to the open house, including grandchildren Ryder and Brealynn Williams.

“It’s a very nice event,” Williams said. “My brother worked here in the ‘70s but it was interesting to see what they do here and how it all works.”

Twins Dominic and Dylan Williams (no relation), 4, went on the quarry tour and then tried their hand at digging in the dirt with kid-sized construction equipment.

“This is very exciting,” mother Krystal Williams said. “They loved going on the tour and seeing where all the rock was mined, and then obviously digging is their favorite pastime.”

Twins Dylan and Dominic Williams, 4, try their hand at “mining.” Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Callanan’s Sustainability Manager Evan Onuskanych hosted an exhibit about the company’s green initiatives.

“We have a big wetland project where we created a 30-acre wetland in Hudson to swap out wetlands we had here,” Onuskanych said. “When you do any kind of wetland relocation project, you have to increase the size and the health of the wetland. Our wetland is surrounded by the mine and it has invasive species. We use a company that built a 30-acre wetland and this new wetland has no invasive species. It’s all DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) permitted.”

Sustainability Manager Evan Onuskanych, of Callanan Industries, explains the history of 400 million year old fossils found at the quarry, which pre-date the dinosaurs. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The quarry is also home to several bat caves. Callanan last winter worked with the DEC and the Department of the Interior to inventory the local bat species. Bats are dying nationwide due to an illness called white-nose syndrome, so the state keeps an eye on bat populations and whether they are thriving.

Onuskanych also showed a display of fossils found at the quarry that are around 400 million years old, dating back to the Devonian Period, before the age of the dinosaurs.

Quality Control Manager Jared Borelli and Quality Control Supervisor Patrick Chamberlain explain how materials are mined and processed at the quarry during Callanan Industries’ open house Saturday. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media
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