The Pigeon Hill Granite Co.’s wharf was just north of the present-day Granite Pier (which was the Rockport Granite Co.’s wharf). The location was known as Colburn’s point and is now the location of private homes. The building in the center was the powerhouse and the sheds to the left were probably cutting sheds to shelter the stone carvers. In the right foreground is a pile of stone dust.
This same picture, although not as a postcard, is included in Barbara H. Erkkila’s book about the history of Cape Ann granite, Hammers on Stone. She estimates the date of the photo to be 1890.
The railroad tracks you see to the left were for an inclined railway that ran down from the company’s two quarry pits, the quarries known today as Steel Derrick and Parker’s. At the time, Parker’s was called the Pigeon Hill quarry and Steel Derrick was called the Upper Pit. For a view of Steel Derrick as it looked then, see my earlier post. According to Erkkila’s book, a rail car broke loose at least once.
It was in February 1875 that a stonecar high up near Upper Pigeon Hill Pit, not far from the cutting shed, rammed into an empty car ahead of it, sending the second car forward with a terrific spurt. It broke its brake and hurtled down the hill, shot across Granite Street, and zoomed clear to the end of the wharf. There it leaped thirty feet into the air and fell with a tremendous splash beneath the surface of the water.
The Pigeon Hill Granite Co. was formed in 1870 by George R. Bradford, Anson Stimson, Amos Rowe and Levi Sewall. In 1871, the Massachusetts legislature authorized the company “to construct and maintain a wharf from the land of said company in Rockport, extending in a north-easterly direction towards, or to Colburn’s point, and to construct a breakwater from said Colburn’s point, in a south-easterly direction, to Bartlett’s, Dodge’s or Half tide rock, so called.” In 1914, the company was sold to the Rockport Granite Co. for $100,000.
This postcard identifies no publisher or date. It appears to be from the same publisher that produced the postcard of Steel Derrick that I mentioned above.