Monday, November 02, 2015

Boston Fun: Quincy Quarries, A Rock Scrambling Good Time

This last Sunday morning we had a few precious hours to play with the Boston Kiddies before we needed to head back to the airport. The weather was just warm enough for an outdoor activity, so we headed to Quincy Quarries for a bit of hiking, history and rock scrambling.

Quincy Quarries has a bit of a grizzly past; the quarries used to be massive holes filled with water that reckless kids would jump into, leading to injury and death. Thanks to YouTube you can actually see people leaping from the cliff walls and landing in water 100+ feet below.

Fortunately, someone got the bright idea to fill the quarries with dirt from the Big Dig. Now, the Quarries are mostly open green space with rock-climber friendly granite walls. Judging by all the alcohol containers and broken glass, teenagers still frequent the area, but so do rock climbers and others who want to take in the gorgeous scenery. Much of the surrounding granite walls are covered in colorful graffiti; some find this enchanting, Shira found it pretty off putting. I for one was pretty cool with it, and I think the splash of color helps make the area even more eclectic.

While scaling the cliffs needs to be done using real rock climbing gear, we had no problem finding a number of paths up the rocks that were challenging, yet safe for the kids to tackle. All four kids absolutely love climbing on and around rocks, and are pretty much fearless. At first glance, the Quincy Quarries area isn't especially large. But that was perfect for the kids, as they could run around, climb on rocks, and just generally be kids, all without having to go any great distance.

So that explains the hiking and rock scrambling above, you may wonder where history came into the equation. As we tramped through the area, we seemed to approach a road and trail head. What we actually found was an incline filled with long granite bars:

What you're looking at above is the remnant of the Granite Railway:

QUINCY, Massachusetts, a historic town about eight miles south of Boston, is distinguished the world over as the home of presidents, for here John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born. Shipbuilding, too, has spread the fame of this delightful old town. Many are familiar with the fine granite which for over a century has been quarried here, but few are aware of the important part that Quincy has played in the awakening of America to a new era in transportation. On the morning of October 7, 1826, at Quincy, the first railroad in America was opened, and under the direction of a young engineer by the name of Gridley Bryant, the first cars drawn by horses passed over it, carrying huge blocks of granite from the Bunker Hill Quarry to a wharf on the Neponset River, a distance of two and three-quarters miles.

To grasp the full significance of this event, we must know something of the condition of the country in 1826, for, crude as the little railway may seem to us today, it was, nevertheless, the germ from which the whole gigantic railroad system of America has sprung. To build even Gridley Bryant's rough but mechanically perfect contrivance was, in 1826, considered by many of the country's citizens as "visionary and chimerical," and it would not have been built at that time were it not for the patriotic motive behind it as the most expeditious means of transporting granite for the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument.

That's right, the kids were literally standing on the very first public railroad in America. How cool is that? The kids, and Dovid especially, are fans of Thomas the Tank Engine, so they could at least partially relate to this remarkable site.

Like I said, hiking, history and rock scrambling, all 20'ish minutes from Boston. What good times!

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