Headstones have been crafted from various elements over the years. Bronze, wood, marble, granite, slate, sandstone and even cement ones with sea shells imbedded in them. If it comes from the heart and fits the person it is honoring, it is good. Those of wealth, fame or distinction were often entombed in elaborate crypts, usually made from marble, in order to keep their memory alive. Slate was popular in Early America and many are still as beautiful today as the day they were carved. Wooden markers were often the only thing available to suggest an unexpected death, and a simple pile of stones could mark somebody’s final resting place. Granite has become a favorite for over 100 years due to it’s beauty and longevity. It is naturally a hard stone that can polish beautifully and will last eternally. but for centuries, one of the favorite ways to mark a grave has always been marble! On a recent trip to Vermont we happened to drive through East Dorset and saw a historical marker along the road and decided to stop ~ Thus this blog! Since it was time to stretch our legs we took a walk to see what this was all about and found this rock with a beautiful depiction of what the quarry was like in it’s heyday. The workers at the bottom of the quarry were using various wenches and other devises to lift the marble out of what is now, a lake bed. It looks like they climbed up and down that long ladder each day to work. All to mine that marble for headstones, monuments, sidewalks (yes, sidewalks!) building blocks, window sills, door sills . . . you get the picture.Taking a walk on a narrow path that skirts the lake, I found this piece of cable that must have been about 3″ around. To get an idea of how big the cable was that was used to hoist the marble out of the bottom of the quarry, I photographed a piece that is still intact. On the opposite of the “lake” was a little waterfall that was so peaceful sounding. You can see it in this picture if you look straight across, to the left of the ladder, at what appears to be a grey step with white at the top. It looks like a blue ribbon coming down against the grey. People throughout the centuries have always felt the need to let others know they have been there, and this was no exception. The only exception was they did not deface it with spray paint or pen, but rather they carved their names and date into the marble for time and eternity! We know we were there, because we always take a picture of one or the other of us to document our visit. It was Jim’s turn. Is this the quintessential Vermont picture? Fall colors, marble slabs and the red farm house in the back ground?Although the quarry is no longer in use today, it is enjoyed by tourist and residents alike. The tourist enjoy it with their camera around their neck (who else, but me?) and the residents as a summer lake! In fact we found evidence of picnicing, since people are people, no matter where they are. Men will drink beer and leave the beer can and women will throw kleenex rather than put it in their pocket.
The next time I visit an old cemetery and see those marble headstones and monuments, I will think of what work it must have been to get it from the bottom of a pit, up to the stone carver, and out to fulfill an order. It makes you appreciate the beauty of the headstones even more.
One of our regrets on this trip? That I didn’t do my homework and find this postcard in my collection before we left! This is the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry! They have tours! Since we have agreed to go back to Vermont . . . within a year or two . . . this will be on the “must do” list for that trip!