The harvesting of granite from quarries in the earth was a tremendous business on Cape Ann between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Granite effected the economy by providing jobs for people throughout the New England region, as well as throughout the world. This cutting of the stone kept workers bust, predominately during the winter months, because the workers could not easily carve the stone straight from its site. They would have to carve large sections out and then extract smaller pieces of stone. By summertime, large shipments of these elements would be transported to distant ports.
There are several techniques to quarrying.
- Rock fragmentation is a very important technique used since the rock sizes produced by a blast must correlate to what the involved machinery can handle. The danger associated with the explosives used for this include fly rock, rock vibration, and noise.
- A common system used now is referred to as “Royex”. It is used in a variety of quarrying applications, such as quarrying for limestone, granite, or marble.
Quarrying in Cape Ann
The quarry workers specialized in the conversion of the rock into paving blocks used to finish developing roads and streets. The integration of granite became popular quickly among the population, and some feared that the business may run out of resources. The Cape Anne granite industry became successful because of this, and the granite was regularly shipped around the world. The location also benefited the industry. They product had to be shipped out by vessel because the railroad system did not exist yet.
Unfortunately, the quarry industry plummeted when The Great Depression ushered in. People were less interested in granite, and their focus was now on concrete and steel for the development of asphalt needed for street paving.
Today, most of the quarries in Cape Ann have been filled with water to form deep ponds. They have been abandoned by people and taken over by nature, creating beautiful spots for visitors to take in the scenery of the past.