Thursday, January 28, 2016

Granite at the Wharf

Practically speaking, transporting stone any distance in the nineteenth century meant loading it onto ships.

Federal projects to fortify Boston Harbor islands and to build shipyards provided an early impetus to the granite business. Entrepreneurs at the forefront of these opportunities took note of Cape Ann's geological bounty and the quarried stone already reaching its shoreline. In the same year that the Quincy Granite Railway went into operation, 1826, William Torrey of that city transplanted himself here into a series of partnerships with Gloucester and Rockport quarrymen.1 

People who have never visited Cape Ann, have little or no idea of the astonishing quantity of beautiful granite of which the Cape is composed. There is enough to build many cities as large as Boston....The quantity annually prepared for market, either in a hewn or rough state, is 100,000 tons. To carry on this extensive business, nearly 300 men are employed, and about 40 yokes of oxen. Gloucester Telegraph, August 17, 1839
Loading Granite at Knowlton's Wharf, Alfred J. Wiggin 1852
(Present day Beach and Granite Streets, Rockport)
Painting at Sandy Bay Historical Society
Alfred Wiggin depicts granite sloops picking up cargo at adjacent beach and wharf. Workmen lifting with tackles suspended from the mast use a second rope to swing the stone laterally on board. The wharf gives deeper draft to the ships, brings the teams closer, and eases the men's exertions.

Wiggin painting detail
During the 1830s wharf developments sprouted along the seashore at most of the important shipping points utilized over the next hundred years of the stone era. By 1836 William Torrey owned 6 sloops and had erected the first derrick on Cape Ann. He later partnered with Beniah Colburn in working quarries at Bay View where his son also William carried on.

In 1827 William Torrey quarried the outcrops along Folly Cove to obtain granite for the Charleston and Portsmouth Navy Yards. Those tempting shoreline ledges yielded blocks that must have been challenging to load aboard ships along the still-raw coast.
The late nineteenth century at Folly Cove
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
Wide open to the northeast storms, Folly Cove had always been a hazardous place for wharfage.  It's original name Gallup's Folly Cove is attributed to a Mr. Gallup who built a short-lived timber pier there in early colonial times. Later developments introduced more substantial materials and techniques. Extensive granite deposits on Halibut Point and a stone wharf tucked into the lee of the peninsula in 1869 set the stage for development of the Babson Farm Quarry.

Granite sloop extending the breakwater sheltering the Folly Cove wharf
John and Betty Erkkila, Souvenirs of Pigeon Cove, 2014
 A massive federal project once again propelled the industry. The Sandy Bay Harbor of Refuge was conceived to shelter coastal shipping within a 1.6 mile long  breakwater rising from sixty foot depths. The Rockport Granite Company built a railroad down from Babson Farm Quarry to the wharf at Folly Cove.

The railroad trestle to the Folly Cove Pier in 1915
Trolley tracks visible to the left side of Granite Street.
Charles Cleaves photo, courtesy of Sandy Bay Historical Society

Locomotive Nella delivering granite blocks to Folly Cove
Charles Cleaves photo, courtesy of Sandy Bay Historical Society
The wharf supported the transfer of enormous granite blocks onto ships for capping the Breakwater once its foundation rose above sea level.

Two fishing schooners and a granite schooner moored in Lanes Cove
Annisquam Historical Society photo
Down the coast a bit the Lanes Cove Pier Company juggled the interests of fishermen, coal suppliers, and granite exporters within its diminutive sanctuary. This photograph suggests the hierarchy of vessels. A mooring stone thrusts up a tree-trunk tethering pole in the foreground. Horse teams are delivering paving stones to the schooner at the wharf. Periodically the Pier Company engaged contractors to improve the harbor by blasting out ledge and dredging out bottom debris, some of which was inadvertently dropped in the granite operations.2

Paving blocks from cart to wharf into hold with a loading chute3
A sample of reports in the Gloucester Daily Times, 1894 

Jan 15 - last year Lanes Cove sent 103 large schooners to Philadelphia and New York and smaller vessels to nearby ports with freights of  3,000,000 paving blocks and 20,000 tons of other granite 

Jan 28  - Sch Howell Leeds loaded yesterday by Superintendent Hayden for Wm P Barker 50,000 paving in less than 3 hours for Philadelphia, run down through large chute from wharf.
Dec 5 - Sch Sarah Wood arrived in Lanesville Tuesday 4th 8:00, loaded by Wm. P. Barker's men in 4 1/2 hours, left for Philadelphia with 32,000 paving early afternoon

To accomplish these prodigious wharf-side feats the employers must have sent crews down from quarries to load the vessels.

Granite sloops, Lanes Cove
Photo courtesy of Paul St. Germain, Cape Ann Granite
This Lanes Cove view shows the advance in granite sloop design to integrate a loading derrick with the mast structure. Sloops so rigged could handle large stones self-sufficiently.

Locomotive Vulcan at the Granite Pier, Rockport
Photo courtesy of John and Betty Erkkila4
As time went on the quarry operators improved their methods for saving time and space at the wharf. The Rockport Granite Company's locomotive Vulcan delivered paving stones to Granite Pier in cutout steam boilers ready to be lifted by derrick and poured into the hold of the ship.  

From these wharves granite went forth in rough and finished forms to substantiate roads, buildings, breakwaters, port facilities and monuments along the American coast, and beyond.

1. Allen Chamberlain, Pigeon Cove, Its Early Settlers & Their Farms 1702-1840, 1940.
2. See, for example, Gloucester Daily Times August 23, 1894.
3. This photograph from the Rockport National Bank calendar November, 1997 is otherwise unattributed.
4. John and Betty Erkkila have presented a dandy collection of photographs in Souvenirs of Pigeon Cove, 2014.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Meditation, Halibut Point

Looking east at sunset
A spectacular sky unclutters my mind
Something says come back in the morning

The wind picks up overnight
The sun keeps faith
Froth matches stone

Light ribbons trace the clouds
Gulls peek over the top
A spectrum floats on ink

Water wakes up,
gets busy decorating,
guessing colors

Water lighter than air
blushes pink and purple,
higher than flight

Colors contract in
subsiding light
around black fringes
Edges tilt,
the gift of a day

Receptive dark
reabsorbs the singularity
of myriad forms

Last glimpse
Endless wave
Ceaseless sky

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Revolution on Wheels, Part Eight - Cape Ann Quarries

Granite, the most handsome, durable and challenging material that could be worked by human hands, compensated its masters with structures that would far outlive them. Granite has been the building material of many of the Wonders of the World. One of the wonders lay in accomplishing some of these edifices so far from the source of stone. 

A block of granite was hauled to the Rockport railroad station on Wednesday that required thirteen yoke of oxen to get it through the streets. Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, March 8, 1873.
A two-week walk from Bay View to Gloucester
Annisquam Historical Society photo
A Big Stone.--A block of granite eighteen feet in length and seven in width, to be worked about one foot, is now on the way from the Cape Ann Granite Company's quarry at Bay View. Fifteen yoke of oxen are engaged in pulling it. It is for the new Baptist Church and will probably reach here today. Cape Ann Advertiser, May 27, 1870 [It did not arrive until June 15, the team 'beefed up' by six more yoke of oxen. Part of the delay rose from concern that the wooden bridge at Riverdale Mills might not support the weight. The bridge received additional timbers.]

Bay State Quarry, Lanesville c. 1880s
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
Old teamsters seemed to have an affection for oxen and their plodding pace. Over rough roads they probably covered less than one mile in an hour.
Garrymander at Bay State Quarry
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
A garrymander carried its load suspended beneath the axle. A long lever helped raise the stone high enough to clear the ground. This mechanical concept required unusually large wheels.

Garrymander and team, Rockport Granite Company wharf
"Pictures from the Past: Lanesville, volume 1"
Since the garrymander didn't need additional machinery at either end of the delivery trip, it functioned well for small teams and at locations remote from the derricks.

Bay State Quarry ox team, horse-drawn cart in rear
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
Traditionally oxen powered both the derricks and the transportation for Cape Ann quarries. In the second half of the nineteenth century oxen continued to work in the lower-capitalized segments of the granite industry while steam engines took over in the larger concerns. Horses replaced oxen in teaming the stone to wharves.
At present there is not a yoke of oxen at Lanesville or Folly Cove, and the "slings" formerly used at the blacksmiths' shops for shoeing oxen have been put aside, there being no use for them. Gloucester Daily Times, December 20, 1890.
Loading granite at Cheves' Quarry, High St Lanesville c. 1905
Cape Ann Museum, Alexander Cheves photographer
When Mr. Eli Morgan - now in his 87th year - was a boy there were only three horses in what is now Bay View and Lanesville. They were owned by David Lane, Joseph Lane, and John Langsford. Presumably there are at least one hundred horses now between Mount Locust and the Rockport Line, and not one pair of oxen, so that in these days we do not hear, "haw Buck, back Star, gee Lion." In days gone by when Stimson and Eames carried on the stone business in Lanesville, the only horse they used was the little trotter which took them from over the road to and from their houses in Rockport. Gloucester Daily Times, March 1, 1892.
The inclined railway of the Pigeon Hill Granite Company
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo1
Following the innovation of the Quincy Granite Railway, Cape Ann quarrymen began using tracked systems in the 1860s to get their blocks out of the hills to the shoreline. On the way down, the brakemen exerted skill and strength to control the car. A flagman gave warning to the public where the railway crossed highways.
Horses returning the railway car from the wharf to the quarry
Photo from Marshall Swan, Town on Sandy Bay
Horsecar in foreground at the Trumbull granite works c. 1870-74
Photo from Barbara Erkkila, Hammers on Stone
A gravitational system took quarried blocks to the Stoney Cove pier which still projects into the Annisquam River estuary alongside Route 128 at the entrance to Gloucester.

The locomotive Nella, named for the wife of Jonas H. French,
developer of the Cape Ann Granite Company
"Pictures from the Past: Lanesville, volume 1"
When the Cape Ann Granite Company acquired the former Bay State quarries of Lanesville, which had exported its stone along an ox trail down to Pigeon Cove Harbor, it upgraded the route in 1895 to a railway known today as "the tracks" from Leverett Street, crossing Curtis Street and Granite Street, to The Cove.

 Cape Ann Granite had been the first to introduce a steam locomotive locally. It brought the William French by barge in 1870 to do the heavy transport at its Bay View works. As soon as the railway proved itself, owner Colonel Jonas H. French and his benefactor General Benjamin Butler invited dignitaries to a gala tour of the quarries aboard the train bedecked with bunting.2 In 1879 the company brought in a grander locomotive Polyphemus 2, named for the Homeric one-eyed giant Cyclops.

Finishing and shipping yard
Rockport Granite Company, Bay View
Photo from the Vintage Rockport website collection of Robert Ambrogi.
The Rockport Granite Company eventually acquired the facilities of the French-Butler interests. Early in the twentieth century its steam-powered derricks on tracks enabled Rockport Granite to industrialize as a supplier of finished stone to national markets, from the wharves at Hodgkins Cove (Bay View), Folly Cove and Pigeon Cove.

Trucks played a role in transportation at the very end of the Cape Ann quarrying era. But trucks arrived as part of the revolution on wheels that eliminated a major part of the granite industry. The new vehicles preferred smooth asphalt roads rather than the paving blocks (or 'cobblestones') that had given better traction to horses. 

Additional sources
1. Photo courtesy of Paul St. Germain, who has compiled a wonderful collection of images and commentary in Cape Ann Granite, 2015.
2. Cape Ann Telegraph, September 21, 1870. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Revolution on Wheels, Part 7 - Quarry Origins

Big stones, impressively and usefully massive, have a long  history with human ingenuity. For millennia people used round logs and pebbles to minimize the effort of getting stones to desirable places.  As the railroad era dawned engineering minds were quick to adapt new technology to the task.  The coupling of rails, wheels, and engines gave birth to the quarrying industry as we know it. We can see its earliest fruition here in Massachusetts.

Ox-powered quarry transport on Cape Ann
during the local granite industry's Middle Ages1
The path to monumental achievements since ancient times has often lain through the mobilizing power of a transcendent story. The effort to create America's first great monument, at Bunker Hill in Charlestown outside Boston, engendered its first railroad.  

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 proposed monument entwined the wills and imaginations of a robust cast of men in politics, finance, architecture and engineering. They chose granite as the ultimate building material, if innumerable challenges could be overcome. Designer Simon Willard walked hundreds of miles over the countryside to locate a practical source of stone. Consideration was given to a rudimentary Cape Ann quarry, but Quincy was preferred in the end for its proximity to Charlestown. The novelty of moving great stones by rail out of the hills to the waterfront proved convincing. 

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
After the starting of the load, which required some exertion, the horse moved at ease in a fast walk. It may, therefore, be easily conceived how greatly transportation of heavy loads is facilitated by means of this road. A large quantity of beautiful stone already prepared for the Bunker Hill Monument will now be rapidly and cheaply transported to the wharf at the termination of the railroad, whence it will be conveyed by lighters to Charlestown....4

Gridley Bryant's railway cart5
Bryant bolted wood rails topped by iron bars to eight-foot granite cross-ties. The carriages were kept in place by a projection on the inner edge of the wheels, which at six feet were tall enough to carry the blocks suspended underneath.

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
Gridley Bryant's inventiveness won the backing of shipping magnate Thomas Handasyd Perkins, one of the Bunker Hill  Monument Associates, who became Granite Railway's principal shareholder. Perkins, an archetypical Boston Brahmin, had made his fortune in the slave trade to Haiti and, upon the opening of Canton to Western commerce in 1795, in the importing of furs and opium to China. As a philanthropist he contributed substantially to the Boston's Athenaeum, Museum of Fine Arts, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The Perkins School for the Blind was renamed for his patronage.8

Quincy Granite Railway, mid-nineteenth century9
And so the great wheels of social force powered progress in the American Experiment, while its first monument to itself crowned the Boston skyline.

"From the Cambria Steamer, starting from Boston...August 1st, 1846" 10

Currier & Ives print celebrating the completion of
the Bunker Hill Monument, 184310
The Granite Railway proved the advantages of wheels on tracks, opening the continent and its quarries to commercial development. In the next essay we will note the impact on Cape Ann. 

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
10. From the Drawing Collection of the Library of Congress