A view of the deserted desert-like bottom of John Swan’s Pit. The reveal is from the granite slab sitting outside the DPW Pump House. Circa late 2002 by Leslie D. Bartlett; the Flat Ledge Quarry is at maximum wall depth, soon the waters will begin their return.
In my 45 years on Cape Ann, I’ve experienced several cycles of extreme weathers. With the resurgent interest in photographing the quarries of Rockport evidenced by several photographers, painters, hikers, and nature lovers, I wish to share back to when I first encountered Flat Ledge Quarry (Swan’s Pit).
From 2001 through 2002, Rockport lost 85% of its stored water capacity. The extended drought revealed a landscape of quarry walls not seen since 1930.
Above – 2002 Flat Ledge Quarry (expand to full size), is a panoramic view that we may not see again in the measure of our lives. As the waters receded and the rail bed revealed along the right side of the quarry, I arrived every morning to document what was being uncovered. This vista was a daily descent into unknown territory. For my friends Skip, Paul, Nick & Gil there is much to absorb from this image: reflections encompassed with an added ring of high water markings, the derelict stone sled in the foreground (invitation into the image plane, and a stop sign of silenced activity). Our enthusiasm for ‘liking’ pales before the descent.
What is there to “like?” At best to bear silent witness, and this is one of the first lessons I absorbed from the great Rockport Drought, to speak on behalf of the landscape. To return day after day, hour after hour, to work the rock walls, to trace the path of the quarry cutters with my own path. Soon, this led to my life long works – ‘Chapters on a Quarry Wall.’ http://www.chaptersonaquarrywall.com
I first entered the Flat Ledge Quarry of Rockport – on – Cape Ann over a decade ago, in the midst of a great drought. A drought which saw the loss of 85% stored water capacity. Every day as the waters receded, the remnants of the Quarry Cutters world emerged. Bits and pieces from a forgotten workplace.
And occasionally a very uncommon piece.
And the unknown, the not encountered, became my guide.
With my nose buried in quarry granite, and my eyes tracking a succession of broken fronts crossing Ipswich Bay across Haul-about-point, I had little time for Plum Cove Beach.
I kept driving by saying, “Just a half moon shell of a cove, not much sand….
Then there was this sunset, with the Life Guard platform and a mother and child sitting there, and everything changed.
For the first time, I saw Plum Cove Hollow..
Here is that image from circa 2002.
“When the good time coming reaches Rockport, we shall all know it.”
Cape Ann Advertiser, October 21, 1877
And so I post a photo in “Rockport Stuff,” I remember, someone remembers. Then someone else remembers. Someone else posts a picture which they have remembered.
A meander of memories….
And the thread moves on. In 2040, I will be 91 years old (all spirits willing), many of you reading what I am typing will (most likely) be dead. Along with the posts and memories, your wonderful memories, of living your lives in Rockport. So here is a question, would you like to hear my thoughts and wishes toward a true “Rockport Timeline?” A timeline
in which you play a role, beyond the breadcrumb of Facebook. Comments invited.