I own and operate a small roofing company, Stewardship Slate, that specializes in the restoration and repair of slate roofs. We work primarily in the downtown area of Burlington, Vt., where more than half of the houses are roofed with slate—slate that was most likely quarried from a nearby region known as the Slate Valley. Running approximately 24 miles along the Vermont-New York border, this area has been and continues to be one of the largest sources of roofing slate in the U.S. (see map, below).

What makes the Slate Valley distinct is that slate found there comes in a variety of colors, shades, and textures. Green, sea green, gray, red, purple, and black slate come from this area, as well as slate in variegated mixes of these colors. Also, this slate has a reputation of being among the best in the world and is highly durable, lasting as long as 200 years. For our restoration work, we typically use salvaged slate from a couple of family-run slate companies located in the heart of the valley. The weathered salvage slates are a better color match and thickness (they are thinner than today’s standard) for the roofs we work on, which are almost all at least a century old. See author’s JLC July-August/21 article, “Slate Roof Restoration” for information about slating tools and techniques.

Becoming a slater. I grew up in a town just north of Slate Valley and always had a passing awareness of it—

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