The solitary entry read simply this: “Two hundred men lost their lives while the quarry was in operation from 1850 to 1960. And a lone hiker claims to have been chased away by a angry spirit”. An abandoned quarry located in the small town of Becket, MA? Having grown up less than 30 miles away, I was surprised never to have heard of it, and more than a little intrigued.
With a little bit more digging, I came upon a very informative web page, published by The Becket Land Trust. Although there is no information in the land trust’s page corroborating or denying claims of so many deaths or any mention of paranormal activity, I was pleasantly surprised to find maps and photos of the area with a brief history of the quarry’s operation. Still I must say that the hopes of gathering some kind of evidence of paranormal activity were high. The claims that approximately two hundred workers had met their demise there, and that a hiker was chased away from the location sparked my curiosity. So, the very next day we left to explore the living museum with hopes of finding memories of the dead.
We pulled into the parking area and my mind became enamored with images of what awaited us. A information board adjacent to our entry point contained a brochure from the land trust, a sign in sheet and a handy map marking points of interest. After signing in and grabbing a map we began the hike upon the neglected road to our destination a first hand look into the past.
And so we started along the leaf-carpeted road that would lead us to the quarry proper, where a closer inspection of machines and other implements used by quarry workers, right up until the day the location became abandoned, would be possible. Step after step, I couldn’t help but think of how many different people made their way to work on this very strip of land during the hundred years the quarry was in operation. How many workers had walked up this long hill to reach the pit where tons of granite awaited them? What were their thoughts? Though still and peaceful now, I could imagine the quarry road as a hive of activity. Strange to think of it now, but I felt as if we were not walking alone.
The road was littered with small piles of grout (smaller, sharp-edged stones), a definitive indication that loads of granite had once made their way down this very hill. At the quarry’s inception, both man and beast navigated this road to deliver their pay load to waiting customers. Then, when trucks became available, the horses were retired for the more modern and efficient automobiles. Along the roadside, piles of grout, which had been tossed aside as unusable, broke through the blanket of dry leaves.
After a short walking distance, the sight of a large, chaotic collage of grout covering the hillside’s steep grade, brilliantly shimmering gray and silver, caught my attention. Scars from chisels and drills gave a indication that this was one of the sides to the quarry pit and we were getting closer. If the local legends were true, then no doubt the center of activity would be closer to the pit. Just beyond the myriad number of stones sits a quiet landscape, forever changed, where every day for a hundred years men carved into the hard earth to remove prized pieces of stone.
Soon we arrived at a level clearing, where we could see trucks and generators that once served vital functions, but now, in their slow death and decay, rusting into art. Nature’s timely process of decay rotted the floors to crumbling bits and revealed linkages and gears that enabled these vehicles to maneuver on this unpaved mountain side.
It was here at this plateau, next to a collapsed metal generator shed, that I began with some EVP work, attempting to record a disembodied voice using a small digital recorder. After asking a few questions there, I proceeded forward and up a slight incline to another structure that was still standing. According to the map, this small concrete structure with two bay doors was the quarry’s tool shed.
Tucked away in a back corner of the building, a wood burning stove stood alone, broken both by vandals and time. Pieces lay on the concrete floor, covered with dust and leaves blown in by mischievous winds. Across the small building’s span, hanging down from the ceiling across the room, dangled lifeless electrical wires. Sunlight streamed in through a skylight.
Again, I felt as if there was someone or something with us. I reached for the recorder and began again with the standard battery of inquiries to our unseen subject. After I asked a particular question, a loud creaking sound drowned out bird songs and the sound of the leaves that shuffled across the forest floor by a gentle breeze. This occurrence repeated itself three times. The source of the creaking seemed to be a free-standing large wooden box about 20 feet from the building. After the EVP session was over the noise from the abandoned implement stopped, though the breeze continued.
Then I noticed a large, weathered pole reaching high above the trees which grew around the quarry’s rim. Rusting cables ran from the top and disappeared into the surrounding tree tops; these gave away the purpose of this primitive device. This was the “Derick”, a crane that workers utilized to haul granite chunks from the pit below. I was at once fascinated with the simplistic design of this machine, and in awe of how hazardous it was to work with a crane that had no safeguards or protective shields.
It was here, at the rim of the quarry, where I couldn’t help but notice a change in the surrounding atmosphere. The air itself seemed to press down on me. Quickly, the recorder found its way back into my hand and I instinctually began to ask questions. A later review of these recordings would come up empty.
The photos, though beautifully indicative of a moment seemingly frozen in time, also lacked any hard evidence of the paranormal.
But I can’t help but wonder if another trip will prove to be more fruitful.