“Wild is tiny and fragile and sweet-baby new. It pushes through cracks and crannies and steals back forgotten places.”
Megan Wagner Lloyd
(from the children’s book Finding Wild)
Don’t you just love a good story about how an abandoned lot became a community garden or how an endangered animal made a come back?
This is the tale of Quincy Quarries Reservation, once a flurry of human activity and now an historic preservation site where nature is creeping back. Quincy itself is full of history: it’s called “The City of Presidents” because John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and John Hancock (President of the Second Continental Congress) were all born there. For many years, it was also called “The Granite City” because it's home to many quarries where tons and tons of granite were extracted and sent all across the nation.
Quincy Quarries Reservation is the historic site of the Quincy Railway Quarry, which sits on 112 acres of land. If you’ve been to Boston, you’ve likely visited the Bunker Hill Monument. The monument was erected using granite from the Quincy quarries, which were active from about 1825-1963 and provided granite for buildings, monuments, and sculptures around the country. If you’re a history enthusiast, there are interesting historical photos of the quarries in this virtual museum.
After the quarries closed, they filled with water and became a place famous for cliff diving, which turned out to be very dangerous and often fatal. Additionally, the quarries became infamous for being a place where villainous people deposited things they didn’t want to be found. This was obviously a huge concern for Quincy.
In 1999, a solution to the problem was determined: the quarries were filled with some of the abundance of dirt from the Big Dig. It's a Big Dig success story, like another place Wike Baby has shared: Millennium Park.
The area reopened to the public in 2003 and is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. It is adjacent to the expansive Blue Hills Reservation—a Wike Baby favorite. With rocks to climb and trails to follow, Quincy Quarries Reservation appeals to rock climbers, hikers, picnickers and naturalists.
Nature is creeping back into this once busy industrial location, and native and nonnative plant species abound. In fact, an interesting recent Blue Hills A-Live video, created by Friends of the Blue Hills, featured Rick Kesseli of the biology department at UMASS diving deeply into the ecology of the reservation—without mentioning the history or the flagrant graffiti he passed!
That’s the thing about this place: while it’s super fascinating to explore the history, ecology, and views of the city, I’d be cautious about bringing children here. Quincy Quarries has attracted graffiti artists for years. While some of the graffiti is artistic and thought-provoking, there’s plenty of vulgarity. If your child is old enough to read, you might have some explaining to do! Additionally, we found tons of trash and broken glass on the ground, which is not only a shame but also a hazard for tiny feet and curious hands.
If you want to visit, and I recommend that you do, leave your children behind and put 77 Ricciuti Dr, Quincy, MA into your GPS. After parking, following the graffiti-covered sidewalk and you’ll find the Granite Railway Quarry, which you can climb for stunning views of the city. Take a look at this map from DCR before you go, so you’ll get the lay of the land. You can hike for a very short time or a very long time-- it's completely up to you and easy to choose your own adventure.
After you finish exploring, head up Ricciuti Drive to Granite Links Golf Course for a beverage at Crossing 9’s Patio & Bar. This place has the most gorgeous views and the perfect atmosphere for relaxing on a sunny day!
If you’d like to read more about the history of Quincy Quarries Reservation, check out this interesting blog post from the Distracted Wanderer.
What’s your favorite place that nature is stealing back?