by Ron Sering
photos by Mike Rosso
When Emil Lionelle pulled the odd little rock out of a deposit of Rocky Mountain granite, he only knew it was interesting. But the Lionelles knew a thing or two about stone. The Lionelle family originally came to the area in 1868 as stonemasons for the railroad, and Emil had put two children through college during the Depression by ranching, farming, and mining.
The mysterious stone eventually found its way into a tomato pot. And that’s when the apparent magic happened. The plant flourished, and soon the Lionelles were out gathering as much of the mineral as they could find. Eventually, they found an entire deposit. And US Soil was born.