Where We Went : Historic Becket Quarry
When We Went : Mid-August
Difficulty (Boots 1 - 10) : 1.5 Boots
Trail Length : Varying Lengths - Quarry Trail is under 3 miles round trip
How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours
Overview : Along with Autumn's colorful arrival comes the advent of all things Halloween-y. It got me thinking, fall brings foliage and leaf-peeping excursions, but what about something a little more sinister than chlorophyll deficiency? Something for the spooky season, a haunted hike! New England has more than its share of the paranormal, and the Berkshires are no exception. As I looked back on our adventures, one of our late summer hikes came to mind. And a sentence I had read on the Becket Land Trust website kept replaying in my head:
"...as if the quarrymen had gone for lunch and never returned..."
A certain quiet quarry in the Becket hills is just the place for a weird walk. Rusty trucks and forgotten machinery sits deserted within the site of the Becket Quarry.
Now in a state of arrested decay, the 300 acres was once the thriving site of the Chester-Hudson Quarry, operational from 1860-1947. The large company, once famous for its Chester-blue granite extracted and shipped tons of the stone for tombstones (!!!), memorials and monuments in Chester, MA and the NY area. Even a devastating flood in 1927 didn't stop operations. Until a seemingly fateful day, when the thundering resonance of machinery screeched to a halt and the last steam whistle blew on almost three-quarters of a century of granite production in Western Massachusetts. What happened? Logical explanations point to financial mismanagement and lack of capital for necessary improvements. But if you let the preserved ruins (and your imagination!) speak to you, maybe you'll hear a different story...
What We Dug : If you take the Quarry Trail, an easy 1/2 mile from the parking area brings you to the hollowed-out shells of two deserted trucks, waiting patiently for their drivers to return. Signs placed along the trail describe points of interest and offer "family fun" activities. Farther up, the silent bones of an electric generator shed lay wasting in the sun.
The rebuilt Stiff Leg Derrick site neighbors a beautiful overlook of the quarry itself. The derrick is an impressive reminder of the demanding and dangerous jobs of the men who came to work every day. During a moment of reflection, I stared across the graveyards of granite and felt a shiver run down my back. All that cold, silent stone waiting for the chisel of memorialization felt so lonely and desolate. I'm not alone in my feelings. Other hikers have reported eerie sensations of being watched, apparitions of workers still busily toiling away among the rusted machinery, cold spots, disembodied voices, and sounds of machinery drifting through the trees. The Boston Globe included it in a list of 5 Haunted Hikes in New England!
Oblivious in their innocence, the kids were content to amble over boulders, search for machines, and watch the daring teenagers jump from the quarry ledges (NOT recommended). The view over the 90-foot deep quarry is absolutely stunning, even more so during the fall months, and the trek through a forest slowly reclaiming the imprints of a more modern world is not to be missed. The wind at the quarry seems to echo with the voices of the past.
With 2 kids under 10, we weren't hyping up the spook factor
(nightmares = no bueno), but if you go looking for it - happy haunting!
What We Could Do Without : As a result of the prior misuse of the land (littering, vandalism, drunkenness, animal cruelty) and the foolish temptation to jump blindly into an opaque pool filled with the remains of old derricks and cables, there is a $10 fee to park. I completely understand and support the town of Becket's decision to implement the charge to deter bad behavior, ensure safety and preserve the site. I'm disappointed that the need had to arise in the first place.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Be sure to grab a map at the parking lot or print one from the Land Trusts website, there are so many artifacts to discover and learn about on the self-guided historic walk! Also, look out for vernal pools and red newts.
Must Know Before You Go’s : Open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, on-site parking is plentiful and parking along the road is prohibited. Parking is $10 per car on days when a security officer is on duty. The officer ensures the following rules: No diving, No fires, No coolers, No alcohol, Carry in/Carry out. Detailed maps showing both the Forest Preserve Trails and the Self-Guided Historic Quarry Walk is available at the kiosk located in the parking lot and on the Land Trust website.
Directions : Take Route 20 to Becket. At the intersection of Route 20, Route 8 North, and Bonny Rigg Hill Road, turn onto Bonny Rig Hill Road. At a 4-point intersection, turn left onto Quarry Road. Continue on Quarry Road, until you come to our signs and parking area on the right. 456 Quarry Road Becket, MA 01223
Website : https://becketlandtrust.org
Scroll through for more photos of our Becket Quarry adventure!