As Time Slips By Below the Keystone Bridge

“One time last summer I go over Rockport Granite Company quarry. walk down on dock, see stone-cutter’s sheds,
all go to pieces, walk under bridge, along where tracks was, all gone down, pull up…” -Gor Svenson 1935

The two images below illustrate the relative quick return of vegetation below the Keystone Bridge, once the Rockport Granite Company ceased operation. The first image is circa 1930: It looks out toward Granite Pier, with the full complement of RR tracks.

The second image here below is taken but five years after the Rockport Granite Company dissolves.
The steel tracks are gone, railroad ties still embedded. Now 82 years later, there are only tiny traces of what once was
part of the daily quarry life in Rockport…


How the Finn Quarry Workers Slept and Worked


How the Finn Quarry Workers Slept & Worked


Head to toe, head to toe.
Eight in a row.
Eight rows to the floor;
With windows left open
there’s room for eight more.


A sheet on the window
To allow the cold air in,
Keeps the body blood flow
And ready for the 6 am din.


The pay day window faces
The ocean grim,
Trudge across the road
To the company store
And turn most of your cash back in.


Split a few stones
In your back yard lot.
Turn in a thousand
Of choice Belgian cut.
Another twenty dollars
To spend on the family you’ve got.

by Leslie D. Bartlett, March 13, 2014


NAMING NAMES- the 1899 Strike

Strike 1899

“On Thursday morning, April 27, between 7 and 8 o’clock,  a crowd of men composed mostly of Finns, started in procession over Rockport Granite Company’s property, through their quarry and drove about 200 of their quarrymen, paving cutters, blacksmiths, etc., from their work, they demonstrated by” hollering” and hooting  and told the men they must quit work or else there would be trouble, they were  repeatedly told get off the Rockport company’s property and let the men alone but would not move until they were perfectly ready.
Among the number recognized as being the leaders were
Matt L. Jacobson, Oscar Isaacson, John Mattson, Frank Hendrickson, Hendri Hendrickson, Matt Mattson 2nd,
Victor Biglink”

(observations recorded by Louis Rogers, Rockport Granite Company)


A note by Les Bartlett,
B. Erkilla’s “Hammers on Stone,” pp 143-147 recount the general outline of the 1899 strike, I suspect that she had access/knowledge of the kind of name list I now have, but back in the 1960s and 70s, there might have been stronger feelings about naming the names. I am hoping that from this listing, some people will connect with their ancestors and more sharing might come around this vital, often violent chapter of life on Cape Ann. For much worse was to follow on the heels of  “Strike 1899.”
If Victor Biglink comes to your door, give him a cup of black coffee, he’s been working hard days and hard nights.


NAMING NAMES: Fire in the Belly, for I shall name the Union Activists

I shall name for you – you the living descendants,
I shall spell out the trouble makers -those early English Americans, the Irish sloggers, the Scottish skirts,
the Russian Finns, and Italians who could not cut stone enough to drown a duck…
who if you eliminate them, we shall have a first class shop.
I shall return to you, the stone dust and grit in your cough,,,,

RECEIVED ROCKPORT October 12, 1906
Dear Sir:~
“I thought I would write and let you know albout all about this Stricke trouble. The head one of this trouble…..”

[to be continued]

naming names