Money Talks and Granite Walks… (Part 4 of 30)


Of the original investors in the Rockport Granite Company of Massachusetts who came together: John L. Thaxter, John H. Stimson  Salem T. Lamb   William F. Dow (Trustee)
Benj. P. Battles   T. P. Fiske     John Lathrop ,

only John H. Stimson came in with a background of working in the granite industry.

Here is Barbara Erkkila (Hammers on Stone pg. 114) speaking on John H. Stimson

“About 1830 also, John Stimson, a son-in-law of Zachariah Green, came to Rockport where he also owned stock in the company. It was while he was there that he built the granite barn and put up the first pair of heavy-timbered hoisting shears ever used in the quarries. After a few years he left the Gloucester and Boston Granite Company and began quarrying at Flat Ledge. It was from this quarry that he made his famous shipment of paving blocks to Fort Warren. In 1834, Eames, Stimson & Company was organized, consisting of Ezra Eames, John Stimson, and Beniah Colburn. They continued to quarry at Flat Ledge, but had quarries in Lanesville and Bay View as well. About 1845 Mr. Stimson bought out Ezra Eames, Beniah Colburn, and new partners William J. Torrey and Joshua Sanborn. The latter had worked as a foreman for Mr. Torrey when he first came to Rockport. In 1854 Stimson rigged up the first steam pump, the design for which was brought back from the California gold fields by Lewis Lane of Cape Ann. Other partners in Stimson’s company over many years had been Anson and Aaron Stimson, George R. Bradford, J. Henry Stimson, Abraham Day and Jotham Taylor of Lanesville.”

John Stimson became the chief Agent for the Rockport Granite Company of Massachusetts, he was charged with managing contracts, seeking new business, insuring deliveries were on time, and collecting funds from clients.



Hositing the Engines of History

It is August 1, 1933 

Here we are peek down from atop the far North Wall of Lanes Cove, Lanesville, MA. on Cape Ann, we can see the narrow space in which a wooden boom derrick is positioned for hoisting and loading granite .

The image offers a rare full view of the complex of hoisting engines and cabling required to  turn the derrick and hoist the granite blocks. Note the platform which holds the gearing for control of the derrick. With everything out in the open,and exposed to the elements, greasing of the gears received especial attention. No loose clothing on the men working in the vicinity – for fear of being caught in cables or tooth gears.

(At the top back of the image the Harvey Coal Shed is in view.)


Here is another view of the working derrick loading granite onto the barge Fredereck Starr, bound for NY.


In the great hurricane of 1935, the derrick and engines will be destroyed.

  • Leslie Bartlett – January 14, 2017




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…

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quarry


My 10 year historic research on all aspects of life in the quarries of Cape Ann, has led me to undertake the book “BREAK, Stone, Water, Heart -The Lives and Struggles of the Cape Ann Quarry Workers”

I ‘d prepared myself to have it published for book signing on November 2nd at Lanesville Community Center.

2 events have modified that timeline:

A. I began to visit with Barbara Erkkila, to talk and share with her. From these visits I’ve come to understand the amazing efforts she put forth at such a vital moment when all of quarrying could have slid away. And with this understanding comes the knowledge that I am carrying on with a tool bag of memory. This has slowed my rush; wanting full reflection and to honor to those whose lives were spent in the pit.

B. I am working with the Cape Ann Museum on  their Granite Museum; I have completed the photographing of every single Granite object both on display and in storage. In the process, I can say that I’ve held more granite tools in my hands then probably anyone else has for the past 30 some years. A weighty process indeed!

Over the next 3 months, I will be enhancing their website presentation of granite, creating an interactive resource based on the Cape Ann Museum granite objects and research items (especially from Barbara Erkkila) for Cape Anners, students, and visitors eager to know more of Cape Ann Quarrying. I am greatly excited by this.

1. A Kickstarter Campaign for book publication will begin in the next few days.

2. November 2-3 at the Lanesville Community Center will include a pre-publication presentation of the book and talk (1:30 pm BOTH days)

3. On those 2 days, I will also be offering a large selection of my prints at greatly reduced prices.

4. I am planning to have the book out in time for the holiday season.

5. Please try to attend, AND any topics you wish spoken to, any memories you wish to have recorded, either write, email or bring them on the 2nd of November.


Les Bartlett, October 23, 2013





Quarrymen in Suits were the real Swingers

I believe that I am looking at a steam driven swing hoist – standing on its own, its function was to control the side to side movement of the derrick boom.

Cape Ann Granite quarrying never progressed to the point of an enclosed boom derrick operator shed, from which all aspects of derrick movement and lifting could be controlled by a single Hoist Engineer who followed hand signals relayed by the Derrickman.