Visiting Rock of Ages Corp. granite quarries is basically a tour of the immense.
The quarry itself is the world’s largest deep-hole dimension granite quarry, and though 600 feet of its depths are under a well of milky-green water, the quarry is astoundingly huge.
A school bus drives visitors up a bumpy road to the site, which can be viewed from behind a gate. What was once an operation requiring the hard manual labor of a few hundred men is today manned by about 7, with the help of some impressive machinery.
The bus ride up passes piles and piles of granite blocks - since 1885, quarry workers have simply dumped pieces of granite with fractures or cracks in these piles, called “grout piles,” which comes from the Scottish word for scrap (many Scots worked in the quarry in its early days). These piles are all over the town.
After the tour of the quarry, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the granite plant, which, again, is gigantic. Huge blocks of granite are moved around, cut, polished, and engraved for gravestones. The plant is a hive of activity, incredibly busy after the slow moving machinery of the quarry. Most of America’s granite headstones come from right here.
Before leaving, visitors can help themselves to some free souvenir granite from a granite scrap bin and roll a few frames of bowling down the outdoor granite lane. The Rock of Ages experimented with granite bowling lanes in the 1950s, but the concept never caught on. This lane was a prototype during those heady years and has recently been restored for family fun. Sadly, the balls are rubber and the pins are light plastic, so the joy of bowling for many of us (throwing a hard heavy thing at other hard heavy things) is lost.