In 1991, a group of concerned townspeople formed the Becket Land Trust, with the goal of protecting Becket’s rural character. Together they and the citizens of Becket raised enough funds to purchase the 300-acre forest that is home to one of the most picturesque historic sites in the Berkshires, the long-abandoned Becket Quarry.
In 2005, the reclaimed, reblazed Becket Land Trust Quarry and Forest Preserve was opened to the public for recreational use. The parking area and gateway to the preserve is located at 456 Quarry Road in Becket, where the kiosk is well-stocked with trail maps and brochures for both the outdoor Quarry Museum and Forest Preserve trails. (Open daily, year-round from dawn to dusk.)
We made our first visit to the preserve in October of 2014, when the kids were just three. It was the morning after trick-or-treat. They were hopped up on sugar and had a few spare packets of M&Ms stuffed in their jacket pockets, in the event that they needed a trail-side pick-me-up.
It’s hard to say if it was sugar-power or the excitement of pretending we were pirates searching for each of the fourteen “treasures” on the Self-Guided Historic Quarry Walk “treasure map,” but they both made the hike to the top of the quarry and back without a single complaint.
Each “treasure” was identified by a stone post topped with a sign to describe the mining artifact and narrate the history of the quarry, which operated in the Berkshires for over one hundred years, during the industrial revolution. Among the kids’ favorite finds were two rusted out, turn of the Century mining trucks!
We climbed a massive stone staircase to a cathedral of birch trees overlooking the water-filled quarry below and discovered carvings in the rocks dated as far back as 1894. We also learned all about guys, derricks, winches, bullwheels, drills and grout pans, as we explored the forest trials that circle the quarry.
After snacking on M&Ms for the entire hike back down to the car, the kids were still hungry. Armed with Go-Gurt and PB&Js, we headed North for a picnic at one of our favorite Berkshire playgrounds, the Becket Town Park.
Just a short drive from the quarry on Main Street/Route 8, the park is packed with a picnic pavilion, sandbox (complete with sand toys), a kids’ picnic table, basketball and beach volleyball courts, tether ball, baseball field, skate park and a unique wooden play structure. And, it’s also just a short walk across the ball field to the Becket Country Store & Cafe, the perfect place to stop in for coffee, lunch, picnic supplies or a bathroom break!
PLEASE NOTE: The Becket Land Trust offers a variety of educational programs, that can be tailored for your classroom or community group’s specific needs.
Themes to be explored include: “granite and granite quarrying, stone cutting and monuments, development of quarrying machinery from colonial times through the industrial revolution (from wood to steel), social history of the quarry community to include immigration issues and influence of quarrying on the development of Berkshire towns, and the relation of area railroads to the quarrying industry.”
For more information, contact:
Dorothy Napp Schindel
413.623. 2100 | historicquarry@BecketLandTrust.org