In 1825, after an exhaustive search throughout New England, Solomon Willard selected the Quincy site as the source of stone for the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. After many delays and much obstruction, a charter was granted on March 4, 1826 for the construction of a railroad to help move the granite. The "Granite Railway" was designed and built by railway pioneer Gridley Bryant and began operations on October 7, 1826.Historic photo's taken from Quincy Quarries Museum
The granite from these quarries became famous throughout the nation, and stone cutting quickly became Quincy's principal economic activity.
The last active quarry closed in 1963. After their abandonment, the open quarries filled with rainwater and ground water. The flooded quarries soon became a popular spot for cliff jumping. However, many people were injured—and killed—while diving into the quarries from great heights. This led the police and the city of Quincy to grapple with what to do with this abandoned space.
During this period, the quarries were also discovered by rock climbers. In 1968, "A Guide to Quincy Quarries" by Willie Cowther and Tony Thompson was published by the MIT Outing Club, containing information about climbing in and around the quarries, with a second edition published in 1970. "Boston Rocks", a later guidebook by Richard Douchette and Susan Ruff, is now in its second edition.
During the 1980s old phone poles and trees were added to discourage cliff jumping. Unfortunately, these were quickly waterlogged and sank two feet underwater where they were not visible to the cliff jumpers above. The injury and fatality rate skyrocketed. Often, divers sent to look for missing cliff jumpers would unexpectedly find other bodies instead.
Quincy Quarries Reservation
In 1985, Boston's Metropolitan District Commission purchased 22 acres, including Granite Railway Quarry, as the Quincy Quarries Reservation. A solution to the public safety problem was finally found with the massive Big Dig highway project in Boston. Dirt from the new highway tunnels was trucked in to fill the main quarries. This opened up new sections of rock to climbers, and the site was subsequently improved to encourage public use of the reservation. The reservation is connected to the trail system of the Blue Hills Reservation and features hiking, rock climbing and views of the Boston skyline. Recently, scenes from the movies Gone Baby Gone2007) and The Invention of Lying (2009) were filmed in the Quincy Quarries