Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pitcairn Park, Part 1 - Halibut Point, 1958

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

During much of the 1950s, '60s and '70s what is now Halibut Point State Park was owned by the Richard Webster family of Brookline, who vacationed in Lanesville and became enchanted with the former quarry property that had fallen into decrepitude. I reminisced with Mrs. Cleo Webster and her daughters Kate and Heather about their experiences. Heather, who was born after the days of Pitcairn, sorted through the family slide collection to provide these photographs.
Part One - an interview with Cleo Webster
Welcome to Pitcairn Park
The name Pitcairn referred to the quarry pit and the rock pile, or cairn. When we first opened it up we had nature trails. Everybody was enlisted, all the kids. The first thing we did when we bought it was to clean up the trash. It was everywhere. The children and I had a wagon. We'd fill it with old bottles and clothing. The children used to sing a song, "We have a tow truck, to carry toes in."
 The cairn
My husband Richard had many, many interests. Anything he went into he went into completely, and was very good at. He had a backhoe, and loved using it.

The backhoe
Richard cut trails and tunnels through the brambles, like Peter Rabbit would use. We made a road going around the quarry, and eventually down to the shoreline.  On the lower flat area we used to go down to have our lunch. We called it Down Below.

A working lunch
We moved a huge flat rock to serve as a table. We rebuilt a fallen-down wall between us and the Trustees of Reservations and cultivated a garden along that wall. We didn't have much time to play. My husband cracked the whip.
Stone table
We used a car jack and levers to make an observation promontory on the edge of the quarry.
Quarry swimming
For a small fee you could fish and swim. When the Air Force was still there one of the men acted as life guard. Then the tower came up for sale, in closed bidding. We were on edge until our bid was accepted.

Native kids would jump off the cliff yelling "Geronimo." It was a long drop.

Building toilet facilities
We built Ladies' and Men's rooms and a leaching field along Bay View Road. They were vandalized early on. We were only able to go back and forth on weekends, and seldom in the wintertime. We employed a local watchman but broke that off, not on the best of terms.
Dr. Richard Webster stocking the quarry with trout
Divers told us the rainbow trout the State had put in were all gone by the next spring. But they said there were still some big brown trout down deep in the water. The State had poisoned the eels and existing fish before putting in the trout. They told us we could shoot a seagull and float it on a plank to keep other seagulls away while the trout were little.

Divers also told us there was a locomotive at the bottom of the quarry.

My husband loved nature, and worked very hard. We didn't want to let it go, but there were rumors around Town about our development plans, and the State took it by eminent domain.

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting Martin. I had never seen these pictures. But I had heard the stories. Wonderful to put them together.