History of Cape Ann Granite

Granite quarrying began on Cape Ann during the late eighteenth century and flourished from the 1830s until the 1930s. At its height, the industry was second in importance only to the fishing industry (which is still extremely important, but much diminished). The industry was so successful that some thought it was possible that the business might deplete the area of all granite. That never happened, of course.

Cape Ann granite was typically fashioned into paving stones but was also used in for building construction. Quarrying and carving occurred throught the year and ships transported the finished products from local wharfs during the summer month. Shipments went to New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and even San Francisco.

Most quarry workers were European immigrants, especially Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Scotland and Italy. The quarries themselves varied in size from two-person operations to companies employing hundreds of workers.

The largest companies were the Rockport Granite Company (the last to cease operation), The Cape Ann Granite Compnay, Cheves Green Granite Company, Lanesville Granite Company, Pigeon Hill Granite Company and Bay State Granite Company.

The larger companies had as many as 40 derricks, used to lift slabs of granite from the quarry depths. In some cases, they even built their own railways for transporting the stone from the quarry to the wharf for shipping, though, more often the granite was hauled in wagons by horse or oxen.

Created: Apr 1, 2024
Modified: Apr 3, 2024
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