Have you seen or are you going to see the Maze Runner movie??

What if I told you you could experience a real life maze right here in NY State.

IMAG0108I recently traveled down to the Catskills to visit one of the my favorite places.  Just a short drive south of Albany on the Thruway  is a remarkable achievement, a place you will never forget.

This is where, in 1933  Harvey Fite,  a professor  at the then newly formed Bard College, found an abandoned blue-stone quarry; 12 acres of raw materials for a man with his vision and drive.


That same year he took a position with the  Carnegie Institute to do restoration work on ancient Mayan sculpture in Copan, Honduras. When he returned to the US, he started forming his vision: A large stone landscape with a Monolith Stanley Kubrick would have loved; dozens of levels, many like islands, with stairways and maze-like narrow passageways.  It has become a venue of sorts, playing host to concerts, seminars, weddings and workshops.  Steve Earl recently played a benefit for the Foundation that maintains the facility, as did Pat Methany.

He called it Opus 40 because he thought it would take him 40 years to finish. In the early 60’s he finally obtained a 9-ton blues-tone specimen he had had his eyes on for years, which he was to place in the highest pedestal,  replacing one of his sculptures,  “the flame”  which had been overwhelmed by the scale this project had achieved.

IMG_1345Fite and his neighbor Berthel Wrolsen, a self taught engineer, carefully trimmed the stone so the center of gravity allowed the stone to rest in a verticle position. Their calculations proved to be correct and they raised the rock using a winch and a huge “A” frame made from 30′ timbers.


They would raise and prop until it just slid right in.  I would have loved to have been there.  I would have been 5 at the time, but I know I would have had fun watching them.

IMG_1322I recommend this trip for people of all ages. There is a great Quarrymans Museum with a fantastic collection of old tools, and it is all a short drive to the town of Woodstock, one of my favorite places.  Remember: “The first rule of this Fite Club is tell everyone about Opus 40.”

There is engineering everywhere you look,  and in future posts I hope to show some examples of unique architecture and engineering in the area.  Remember, if you are planning a building project and want to make sure it is done right, contact us here at Nolan Engineering,  and let us help you with your planning and construction needs.