Abandoned Becket Quarry, the Land that Time Forgot

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Heading out for a hike in the snow can be an adventure in and of itself, but searching out abandoned Massachusetts quarries adds an extra element of mystery. That’s particularly true when the destination is one where the workers walked off the job and left everything just as it was at quitting time more than 40 years ago.

Welcome to Becket Quarry in western Massachusetts, an unusual Massachusetts hike worthy of the ghostly tales.

Quarries in Massachusetts, the History

old rusting truck left at a Massachusetts quarry
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At one time, quarries in Massachusetts were not an unusual site. For example, there were more than 100 quarries in East Longmeadow alone.

Workers cut tons of brownstone and red stone by hand for a wage of 23 cents an hour. The efforts of their labors can be seen across Massachusetts in buildings such as Trinity Church in Boston.

As the railroad boomed, facilitating simpler overland travel, the Norcross Brothers made East Longmeadow quarries in Massachusetts famous by shipping the unusual brown and red stone across the country.

For Becket Quarry, also known as the Hudson-Chester Granite Quarry, a different fate was in store.

The Fate of Becket Quarry Not Dissimilar to other Quarries in Massachusetts

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It’s not surprising that a search for the Hudson-Chester Granite Quarry in Becket, Massachusetts returns tales of ghostly apparitions and other paranormal pursuits. Such places bear the imprints of our history and are marked by the ridges and whirls of time, but the quarry in Becket is more a living museum than a shrine, haunted only by the hollowed-out shells of ancient machinery and the bowing masts of heavy-hauling derricks. While sorrowful in decay, the remains tell a happier story of nearly a century of rural life and the business of quarries in Massachusetts.

The Hudson-Chester Quarry, also known as Becket Quarry, was once Famous for its Chester-blue granite, the preferred stone for monuments and markers across New England. The quarry in Massachusetts produced tons of the close-grained stone from 1870 until a steely gray day in 1947, when the last steam whistle blew. Shutting down the thundering bass of machinery, it flipped the switch on nearly three quarters of a century of granite production in western Massachusetts. 

At least that’s how I imagine it.  On a sunny December day, when the blue of the sky interlaces with the swaying branches above my head, it’s easy to let imagination get the best of me.  The truth is, there is a loneliness to a place that’s been abandoned, and it can’t be shaken by the sun overhead or the voices of my grown children as they light-heartedly grumble about having to slip and slide through the snow in improper footwear. 

Two of them are home from college and unprepared for a winter hike, but it isn’t long before cross-country trekking has its rewards. We make it to the top of the rise and find the rusting remains of a compressor truck.  I know this, because the sign placed thoughtfully at center explains the remains as it enlightens me about a piece of quarry life. 

A few steps ahead, another sign alerts me to the electrical generator shed, all rusted bones in the cool winter light, before we reach the Stiff Leg Derrick site. Once used to load and unload railroad cars that ran through the property, the derrick plays hide and seek with the snow, appearing from the winter crust at varying intervals.

More uphill climbs take us past sleeping remnants of Massachusetts quarries’ better days, including an icy mine shaft and an abandoned garage, until we reach the top of the hill. This is the end of the line for Becket Quarry and our hike.

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As the sun wanes on the cool winter day, the barren trees guard the rocky edge and warn us of the 90-foot drop into the flooded quarry below. It’s been a site of much contention in recent years, as extreme cliff divers face off against town officials over safety and rights.

Becket Quarry and its governing body, the Becket Land Trust, is right in the middle of the dispute, forced into levying parking fees in the attempt to deter unlawful behavior. Unfortunately, that now includes littering and vandalism conducted by drunken bodies, most likely seeking a partying spot at night or a place to cool off on hot summer days.

However, the Becket Land Trust perseveres, conducting guided hikes and encouraging the public to use the land as its current purpose suggests: as a living museum celebrating the history of quarries in Massachusetts.

Visiting Becket Quarry

Becket quarry is located in Becket, Massachusetts and is separated into two parcels:

  • The Historic Quarry contains the remains of the active quarry operation, including machinery and the flooded quarry pit. Guests may take a self-guided tour aided by several markers bearing descriptions of the various landmarks and artifacts. Along the route, you’ll find several landmarks and remains of interest, including:
    • A reconstructed ‘guy derrick’  with a 55′ mast and 50′ boom, once used to hoist large granit blocks from the quarry pit
    • A large grout pile, the remnant of an active mining operation
    • Portable compressor
    • Sullivan Drill and downhaul ball
    • Old vehicles
    • Views of the old water-filled quarry pit
  • The second parcel is known as the Forest Preserve. The forest is interlaced with miles of trails leading toward vistas and glacial boulders. It’s a place to step out of the modern world and contemplate the simplicities, as well as the harsher realities, of the past.

While many people have used the quarry as a swimming or diving hole, neither is recommended. Just remember you’ll be leaping blindly into an opaque pool littered with the remains of old derricks and cables.Cliff jumping, vandalism and rumors of animal cruelty aside, we found Becket Quarry a peaceful place, perfectly abandoned on a December day, but for the footsteps we left in the snow.

Alcohol and coolers are also prohibited at the quarry. During the summer months, parking attendants will check to ensure that you aren’t bringing such items into the area.

After welcoming nearly 14,000 visitors in 2020, the Becket Land Trust began searching for a new governing authority for the historic property, preferrably an organization with the means to more easily care for the site. They found both the funds and volunteer sponsorship with The Trustees.

How to Find Becket Quarry

We found Google maps to be an unreliable indicator when trying to locate Becket Quarry. Your best bet is to take Route 20 into the town of Becket. You’ll soon come to an intersection with Route 8 North and Bonny Rigg Hill Road. Turn onto Bonny Rigg Hill and continue until you reach a 4-point intersection. Here, turn left onto Quarry Road and look for signs indicating Becket Quarry.

Parking is provided on Quarry Road, where you’ll need to register and pay the $10 fee, if visiting between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During this time, you’ll find that the area closes at 7:00 pm and access to the parking lot will be restricted by a gate. If you’re thinking about parking along the road and entering the quarry anyway, you could end up with a fine. Becket Police are rumored to frequently patrol the area to deter violators.

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Becket, MA

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2-4 hours

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Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughters. Kathleen has been a professional writer for more than a decade, helping businesses craft compelling content to advance organizational goals.

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