While we wish it had been under different circumstances, Don and I had a rare day together in Maryland last Friday. After lunch, Don had a surprise for me; he wanted to show me a place near to where he grew up and where his mom still lives. (Which, by the way, is less than ten miles from where I grew up. For those of you who don’t know, Don and I graduated from high school together and reunited at our 20-year high school reunion.)

It ended up being a Stand by Me afternoon. You remember the movie based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, don’t you?

It was a damp day and the skies were grey. The weather fit; we had just been to Don’s dad’s memorial service that morning.

Don’s mom dropped us off just a ways up the road. Here’s where we started:

As we walked, Don explained that in his youth, he never dared coming here without his dad because it was off-limits. About a mile into our walk through the woods, we came upon this:

The old Dickerson Quarry with its beautiful blue-green waters:

Off-limits to us as children, because it wasn’t a safe place. From the 1950s through the 1980s, the quarry was an attractive nuisance as a popular swimming hole for young adults. Unfortunately, quite a few people have drowned in the quarry’s 90 feet of cold water.

Apparently, the quarry is still today an attractive nuisance for some young adults:

Here’s a bit of history about the quarry, excerpted from The History of Dickerson, Mouth of Monocacy, Oakland Mills, and Sugarloaf Mountain [MD], authored by Dona L. Cuttler:

The D.C. Quarry opened in 1898 on part of “Beall’s Good Will.” The smaller of the two quarries at 17 acres was owned by the D.C. government, and it supplied bluestone for curbs in Georgetown, and crushed stone for the water filtration plant.

The smaller quarry closed in 1905. The larger quarry was originally part of the 20 acre tract “Doe Neck” granted to Daniel Veatch in 1764. It was purchased by William H. Dickerson and sold to Standard Lime and Stone and later the Bakers sold it to Otto Anderson when he came to Montgomery County in the 1930s. Later owned by Mary P. Anderson, the 451 acre quarry opened in 1900 with seven workers and closed in the 1930s. This quarry shipped crushed rock for railroad beds. The rock was locally referred to as “trap rock” which was dark-colored, fine-grained igneous rock. 

The quarry employed 30 workers at its zenith, six days a week from 7:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Men received from $2.00 – $2.50 per day. There were houses down near the stream where Italian workers lived and tended the mules at night.

These houses, which included foreman Silvro Albensen’s house, were taken down after the quarry closed.

Each worker had a tract or section to which they were assigned. Stones were loaded in the carts, pulled by mules to the incline. Here the cart was attached to a cable, and when the boss signaled, the cart was pulled up the incline by a boiler. There were seven 100 horse power boilers supplying steam power to operate the crushers, hoists and incline. At the top of the quarry, the stones were crushed, sorted and dumped into railroad cars. When 10 – 20 cars were full, the Brunswick station would be called for a locomotive to pick up the cars. Some stones had to be dynamited, at which point the men would wait in the dynamite shack for protection from the blast. 

Two pumps ran continuously to keep spring water out of the quarry. Occasionally windows of nearby residences would crack during charges, or from debris, and repairs were paid for by the company. One holiday weekend the pump attendant got intoxicated and fell asleep, and water came in too fast to save any of the equipment. The gas motor which ran the pump ran out of fuel too long to rebuild the pressure. Carts, incline sections, and steam shovels are immersed in 90 feet of water. Other out buildings include a blacksmith’s shop, a boiler room, crushing building, pump house, and stable.

Oops. That’ll teach ya to fall asleep at the pump.

We headed back in a different direction from which we came, walking through Maryland corn fields:

And then finally on the railroad tracks:

It was one forbidden, rebellious act after another and we loved every minute of it!

Our walk ended at the old Dickerson Railroad Station:

Dickerson’s station house was constructed in 1891, sporting a trackside central bay with a unique and practical V-shaped projection, allowing the station master to see in both directions on what was then a single line track.

The original building still stands and is one of several designated Historic Sites in Dickerson, Maryland:

Remember what I said at the beginning of this post about Don never daring to go to the quarry without his dad because it was off-limits? What I think we failed to realize at the time was that even on Friday, we weren’t there without him.  Because of Don’s memories, his dad will always be there.  ♥