transport on Cape Ann|
during the local granite industry's Middle Ages1
Boston thought of itself as The Cradle of Liberty. The Battle of Bunker Hill had been one of the decisive moments in the War for Independence. As the Revolutionary veterans' numbers dwindled and the young nation flourished, patriotic visionaries sought a suitable commemoration. They invited the Marquis de Lafayette, who was touring the United States on the 50th anniversary of the War, to lay the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument on June 17, 1825. Daniel Webster delivered the oration.
|The obelisk under construction, 18402|
The railway was conceived by a young engineer named Gridley Bryant. He was able to construct the three-mile bed so accurately over varied terrain that a single horse could pull the loads, to the wonder of a newspaper reporting on the first delivery of granite to Bunker Hill in 1826:This railroad, the first we believe in this country, was opened on Saturday in the presence of a number of gentlemen who take an interest in the experiment. A quantity of stone weighing sixteen tons, taken from the ledge belonging to the Bunker Hill Association, and loaded on three wagons, which together weigh five tons, making a load of twenty-one tons, was moved with ease by a single horse from the quarry to the landing above Neponset Bridge, a distance of more than three miles. The road declines gradually the whole way from the quarry to the landing, but so slightly that the horse conveyed back the empty wagons....
|Sketch of the Granite Railway3|
|Gridley Bryant's railway cart5|
Once the stones were maneuvered onto a pallet the car would be backed over it. Chains ran to a geared lifting mechanism atop the car. One man could raise a six-ton block above the track for transport.6
An inclined plane brought the blocks down from the quarry to the railroad. An endless chain and pulley system controlled the descent and returned the empty cars.
|The inclined railway bed with pulleys and chain channel7|
|Quincy Granite Railway, mid-nineteenth century9|
|"From the Cambria Steamer, starting from Boston...August 1st, 1846" 10|
Currier & Ives
print celebrating the completion of|
the Bunker Hill Monument, 184310
1. Photo from Pictures from the Past: Lanesville & Vicinity, vol. 1.
2. Detail of Freemen's Quick Step, Cornell University Collection of Political Americana
3. Drawing from the website of the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, Inc.
4. Boston Traveler, October 13, 1826
5. Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy
6. A History of the Origin and Development of the Granite Railway at Quincy, Massachusetts, The Granite Railway Company, 1926, In Commemoration of the One Hundredth Anniversary
7. Historic American Buildings Survey, Granite Railway, Pine Hill Quarry to Neponset River, Quincy, Arthur C. Haskell, photographer, Library of Congress, 1934.
8. Wikipedia, Thomas Handasyd Perkins
9. Photo from the website www.American-Rails.com
10. From the Drawing Collection of the Library of Congress