What happened to the Becket quarry?
About one-half mile into the woods of southwest Becket, a ghostly scene emerges. There sits the Hudson-Chester Granite Quarry with its 140-foot-deep chasm, a mine entrance, and an abandoned rail grade. Equipped with derricks, winches, drills, generators, and trucks, it appears ready for work except for 50 years of rust and encroaching forests. The impression is that the workers laid down their tools and went to lunch, never to return.
The reality is much less mysterious. For over a century, beginning in the 1850s, rail cars, wagons, or trucks rolled blocks of granite to Hudson, New York, and Chester, Massachusetts, to be worked into monuments and tombstones. The company went bankrupt in the early 1960s. With no immediate demand for the land and tired old equipment, the quarry was simply deserted, becoming one of the most intact specimens of its kind.
Ghostly scenes are fascinating, and Becket residents had long used the historic quarry as a walking place. But a sense of alarm developed in the early 1990s when a new company proposed reopening the business. Expecting noisy and hazardous activity, neighbors collected about $250,000, purchased the 300-acre tract, and donated it to the Becket Land Trust, which turned it into an outdoor museum.
Those who appreciate walking in history call this a rare treasure. As word spread and concerns for liabilities grew, the Land Trust instituted parking fees and security patrols. Learn more: becketlandtrust.org.