A Giant Made Prisoner

A Giant Made Prisoner

“Anastasia stared about her, taking mental notes of the relations of light and shade, and trying to fix in her mind the action of the workmen. Bessie was not so cool. Something oppressed her here, and she quite lost the happy tranquility which she had felt five minutes before, in the straggling country road among the peaceful winter gardens. She felt as if in those few minutes she had come out of the happy New England which she knew and loved – a little country which with all its faults is civilized and human enough – into the midst of some great workshop of nature outside human ways and human knowledge. Here with the dark rocks which they told her had lasted since the beginning of the world, and which had seen more frightful changes than Betsy could imagine. And here, at work among them, was a magical instrument, a giant made prisoner, who was fighting the rocks with another natural force even stronger than theirs. ”

Ellen Day Hale, The Cape Ann Quarries,

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, No. 418, March 1885




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