Known as the Chester-Hudson Quarry during its operating days -- roughly a century, ending in the late 1960s -- the quarry in Becket produced granite used for monuments. When the quarry was abandoned, all the equipment was left in place, as though the workers had left for lunch and never returned.
So while the quarry was an operating mining business until mid-century, it closed and remained dormant for about 40 years. About a decade ago, owner John Casio decided to sell and a miner offered him $250,000. The prospective buyer was unknown to local residents.
After receiving a notice from the Becket Planning Board that Casio planned to sell to another miner, neighboring property owners Josh Schwartzach and Adrienne Metcalf did a little research. They discovered that the prospective buyer was involved with a mine in Holyoke, and had drawn the ire of a local Audubon group. They went to a public hearing and got an earful.
Returning to Becket, they contacted their neighbors, formed a homeowners group and spoke out against the proposal at town meetings. Casio announced he would sell to someone else for the same price. Indian Lakes, a new subdivision near the quarry, would be divided by a road leading to the quarry, under the prospective buyer's plan to reopen the mine.
Trucks carrying loads of stone would pass up and down through the new neighborhood. The residents of Indian Lakes quickly, in seven days, raised the $250,000 and bought Casio's property. Immediately after the purchase, the Indian Hills group donated the property to the Becket Land Trust.
The idea of a historic interpretive site at the quarry was supported by Williams Mining Co. in Lee. The Williams brothers donated old machinery. They cut granite, moved boulders, created paths and erected posts. Donated materials and labor gave the place a start as a historic site. This summer, the tradition of donations continued when AmeriCorps students worked for six weeks at the site, doing cleanup and maintenance.